One of the lovely things about being a mum is there is this unspoken understanding and acceptance that we are all in the same boat. I was walking around the park with Awena in the pram the other day and passed 3 mums together with their little ones. They gave me a polite smile as I passed them. I then bumped into them again on my way back and one of them called out “I feel I should say hi, so hi!” There was a sense of connection and a bond over the experiences that we all encounter.
Only today I was standing in the park with Poppi and Awena was sleeping in the pram. A mum I knew came over to say congrats and peer at the sleeping angel. Naturally, as mums do, and because she was a lockdown baby, she asked how things were. I told her the brief story including that Awena has been in neonatal for three weeks. She asked me a question which I haven’t asked myself since Awena was in hospital; “have you bonded ok?” This took me by surprise and I answered: “I think I have but I guess we’ll have to wait and see if she has.”
In those early days one of the things I was concerned about was attachment bonds, and in particular, Awena’s bond to me. I loved the little bonding patches the neonatal unit gave me for Awena but as I left her in the evenings I still worried that she would attach well.
A steady base is foundational for a child’s secure attachment to be formed. I felt with not being able to be there for her whenever she needed me her base would be somewhat shaky. I had to remind myself, and learn through my own experience, that kids are incredibly resilient. Not only that, but it is possible to reshape and create new pathways in the brain. Being so new to the world Awena has plenty of time as she enters our family to learn that we love her and are committed to being there for her.
I went to a conference held by the Trauma Recovery Centre in Bath. One of the speakers described this image which is really helpful in understanding how the brain forms and loses pathways. Imagine a field full of grass. You are standing in the middle. There is a gate on either side. You start making your way to one of the gates. What happens to the grass? Not a lot. However, you keep making the same journey. What happens to the grass then? It starts to flatten and form a pathway. After a while, you decide to go to the other gate so you stop walking the pathway you created and start a new one. What happens to the grass now? Over time it will grow again and the initial pathway will be lost as the new one is formed. Repetition is key. If Awena felt unloved initially (which I am 100% convinced she didn’t (the neonatal team were so loving in their care as well as Daf and I)) the love she has received since being home with us will be enough to create a new pathway and the other will fall away into a distant memory. That’s not to say that some emotional memory hasn’t be stored but its recall will be so faint that her secure attachment should remain secure.
It’s such a minefield being a mum and we feel responsible for so much, but our children still love us. Poppi calls me perfect regularly and I’m far from it (and I mean FAR from it) but clearly what I do get right is enough for her to feel secure. You got this mamas. That’s the mummy bond.