Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I have a question for you, one you probably have not heard too often. Is it possible to not love your child? I know this sounds horrible and I can’t believe I’m writing this to you but I really need to know. You see, I really have no maternal instincts to fall back on and give to my child.

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I looked at other mother’s in the maternity ward and they were all cooing and cuddling their babies, while I had no urge to pick up my baby girl. In fact I felt something on the verge of revulsion and didn’t want to touch the bassinet, did not want to nurse or even bottle feed her and asked the nurses to do it. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I had an uneventful pregnancy, labor and delivery but no maternal instincts kicked in. Now I’m afraid of what will happen when I go home tomorrow with this little, squealing person whom I don’t like or feel anything for. What am I supposed to do? I’m terrified for her, for myself, because I think there’s something really wrong with me and I shouldn’t be taking care of her.

 

Dear Friend,

Thank you for enclosing your phone number so that we could speak and discuss why you find yourself unable to love your newborn and to better help me understand what may have cultivated such deep rooted fears of motherhood, that would have you withhold love and emotional nurturing of your child, to the point of revulsion.

In our conversation, I asked you to describe your own mother’s relationship with you. Your answer explained volumes. You could not remember your mother hugging or kissing you. She never complimented you on anything but was heavy with her criticism, and quick to point out faults and failure. Your mother was seldom home and you were raised by a housekeeper who would often neglect and abuse you when you were younger. You were sent away to study abroad and dorm on the school premises, also supervised by a strict and cold dorm ‘mother’. Were it not for your friends and their families, wherein you got some idea of what caring should be, that you managed to find your husband, who cares for you and loves you, but you have trouble reciprocating that love too.

So here’s what we need to understand: how are you supposed to love and nurture your baby when you have NEVER experienced it or felt it? You grew up devoid of a mother’s love and understanding, encouragement and self-worth. It left a massive hole in your growth process that did not allow these emotions to develop in you! You had two invisible parents, in name only, and no other example of what normal, natural parenting entails, so how were you supposed to manufacture those feelings that you should have experienced and enjoyed as a child? It is little wonder that you are at a disadvantage now.

What you need is immediate and intense counseling. No time to waste here. I have given you two names and numbers of therapists who specialize in emotional deprivation issues who will come to the rescue once you agree and I call them. All you need to do is pick which one you feel better with and I will see to it that you get the help you need. I think your husband will benefit from this, as well, as you mention that there are fissures in your marriage, that only promise to grow if they are not attended to. Please reach out to me so that I can get the ball rolling. Also, imperative would be to get someone in to help care for the baby and watch how this woman handles and cuddles your little one. Don’t deny her all that you’ve been denied. The beginning of love is to care enough about another so they won’t suffer the same pain you have. Let’s start here.

There are all kinds of tragedies in this world, most of them manmade. Those who suffer the most for the longest time for things they are not guilty of, are the innocent children. Let the suffering stop here. Reach out for the help and make a better life for yourself, your husband and your child.

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