Tag Archives: Pain

‘The Bond’

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‘The bond’, without doubt, was the topic I most enjoyed hearing about from parents. I loved hearing the stories of togetherness, friendship, and the joys that fatherhood brought.
Every parent spoke about it. I have met other families and witnessed first-hand the connection, the unbreakable togetherness, the invisible thread which linked these families, creating an unbreakable pact.
 
In hindsight, perhaps these families were not telling me the whole truth. Perhaps, as is often the case, when I spoke to other mums and dads they were painting their own fantasies and dreams of family life, but I was an eager father to be, hoovering up the fantasy wherever I could find it, my mind’s eye in overdrive. Maybe this was a somewhat romantic notation of ‘ family’. Maybe I let the ideal cloud my judgement, but that is truly how I imagined myself, Melanie, and MJ would be: all three of us together, with MJ at the centre, filling us with joy and happiness as we grew together as a young family taking on the world.
 
As we blissfully  journeyed through Melanie’s pregnancy dreaming of the future and the utopian fantasy I had created in my head, not for one minute thinking anything catastrophic would happened to our unborn child I would listen gleefully to parents describing ‘the bond’ they had with their children, and how nothing prepares you for that kind of love and closeness you have for your child- “it’s instant”, they would say.  
 
The utopia I had created in my mind was soon to be replaced with a dystopia – “what the hell were all those parents talking about, have we given birth to Damien?” I said despairingly towards Mel during one of MJs many screaming fits, or, as I christened them, “atomic super cry” – the whole street took cover when he began one of these fits – thank god they’ve passed!
 
Interlude – I must stress at this point that both myself and Melanie now have a very close connection with MJ, and although it might not be the same as parents with normal toddlers it’s still a special connection which we have both had to work bloody hard to forge.
 
When MJ was born we were both obviously overjoyed. MJ was whisked to the neo-natal word for four days after Melanie’s emergency C-section. I could tell this was tough for her but as always she put on a brave face. She would not see MJ for a couple of days. MJ was stuck in an incubator for three of the four days he was in neo-natal. I was desperate to pick him up and start the bonding process, but that was not possible, and I believe affected my relationship with him.
 
It was strange how I felt about MJ in the months after we left the hospital. Obviously I loved him and wanted to protect him, but I did not feel close to him. What an awful person I must be not to have that bond I had been so looking forward to. Looking back I think I might have had a form of post natal depression!
 
If you are reading this thinking ‘my God this guy is full of self-loathing he needs to snap out of it’, you would be right, I did loathe myself and maybe even felt sorry for myself and the situation that had been created by MJ’s arrival into our lives. I was not proud of the way I was feeling or the person I was becoming, but please try to understand what I was going through and put yourself in my shoes. This was a life changing event, seismic!
 
Due to his CP he was constantly crying, never settled, if we put him down he would cry, if we moved a millimetre he would cry. I was slowly starting to resent him and hating myself because of it. ‘How can I resent my own baby?’, I would ask myself. As always with the way I deal with issues I internalised my feelings, repressed them, and got on with it. ‘Nobody needs to deal with your issues, Luke, get on with it!’ So I put on an act for family and friends while the sadness spread throughout my body like a sickness.
 
The bond that all these families had talked about was a myth to me, a joke. Instead of the utopia I had dreamed about I was now living in a nightmare which had no ending or hope – truly miserable is how I would describe my state during this time.
 
Obviously, the issues MJ was going through were far greater than I ever envisaged or was aware of. Perhaps if we had known from birth it would have been easier to handle. We would have had an explanation why he would not engage with us, a reason why he was not smiling, a reason why he had a complete lack of interest in toys, or anything, for that matter. I would often find myself staring at MJ and wonder where he was, what space was he in. Looking back he looked like a prisoner in his own body. All the tears and screams where borne of frustration and desperation. How I wished I could have helped him more during the first few months.   
 
This feeling continued for more than six months. I cannot speak for Melanie and that’s not the purpose of this blog. I believe, however, she was probably feeling as low as I was if not more so as she had carried the wee man and felt him moving inside of her. I can’t image how she must have felt having to go to mother and baby sessions with the screaming firecracker we had created, but attend she did. Melanie’s mental toughness is a credit to her and one of the reasons I love her.
 
The biggest turning point in our relationship came when I realised how much MJ loved music  – we had something in common, FINALLY a breakthrough!
 
Music has lit up MJ’s brain. Barriers that once stood have been breached and cast aside.
 
His beautiful  smile and his hearty belly laugh have started to become more frequent. Eye contact has improved. Finally ‘the bond’ between father and son had begun to blossom. The gloom that had been hovering over me had passed and the resentment disappeared. I could begin to like myself again and start loving MJ the way a father should.
 
Sometimes a bond takes longer than an instant to forge, and I like to think these types of bonds which are forged with difficulty over time will more securely stand the test of time than those more carelessly made. 
 

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