Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Mother's Separation Anxiety

When my 6 year old was still a toddler, she used to sleep beside me. Even after I had weaned her, she wanted to sleep with her body close to me and her leg usually up on my hip or leg. She loved having my arms around her and sometimes her hand is on my armpit.

When our second child was born, I placed the new baby on my right side while my older child was on my left. There were times when I had to nurse the baby and could not cuddle my older daughter to sleep since I have my back to her. Not wanting to make her feel bad, I just encouraged her to hug me instead while I'm holding her hand. It worked! She did not feel left out and she still felt close to me.

Months passed by and our second daughter grew and developed her own mind. Even though I still placed her on my right side, she preferred sleeping beside her older sister and have some "tickling fun" with her before going to sleep. Because I wanted them to enjoy bonding with each other, I did not discourage my younger daughter to sleep beside her big sister. It put a stop however to my bedtime cuddles with my older child.

With her younger sister between me and my older child, we contented ourselves to just plain hand holding. After a while, I encouraged her to be cuddled to sleep by her daddy until she pushed me away when I tried to cuddle her to sleep while my younger daughter was with my husband. I felt really bad. I felt like my older child no longer needed me. It was at that point I thought about having my own separation anxiety which led me to think about what's going to happen in the future when my kids are older and have their own families. I felt like crying then.

With my anxiety in mind, I slowly tried to renew bonding with my older daughter. While in bed, I lovingly rub her arms and tummy and hold her hand. I also tell her I love her as often as I can. At first she would push my hand away but lately she does not mind anymore. Whenever possible, she would like for me to cuddle her and hold her hand. I hope we'll stay close even when she's older, same with my younger child.


FOOTPRINTS (aka ourfootprints aka Annita) said...

Thank you for this post!! Now I know some mothers also experience mother's separation anxiety. It's from other mother's experience then I learn more abt motherhood.

I don't have a 2nd child but I'm beginning to wonder how my only child (for now) would handle the arrival of a new baby one day.

Some may disagree with us BUT I also let Emily to fall asleep on my side. And YES, I also hold her little fingers, rub gently her back etc etc.

I agree with you that it would be so awesome if mother-daughter bond survives the test of time and remains strong till our final days on this earth. Every mother's wish, isn't it? ^_^

God bless you and the li'l princesses!

~ Annita

cardiogirl said...

My first reaction to this was: didn't you find it difficult to nurse your baby ONLY on the left side all night. I, too, engaged in co-sleeping when my girls were infants due to the nursing. But each time I nursed I switched sides. (Just the practical chick in me coming out.)

Funny you feel that separation anxiety. I feel the opposite. My kids are always with me and the youngest (2 years old) is always touching me. Either a hand on my leg or a thigh next to mine as we sit on the couch.

I love my kids, but I don't think I'll be experiencing empty nest syndrome.

Good luck!

samantha said...

i don't know if is a natural feeling to experience some sort of separaton anxiety. while your pregnant the child is part of you. is everywhere you are, in later stages you feel every movement and every hiccup. When you lay or sit down you have to get comfortable together. it is the thing i miss the most of pregnancy. When she's born she is a seperate being. You have to allow other people to hold or touch her, to put her down to do house chores. even when i give my little girl to her father i want her back after 5 minutes, then i go find some chore to do to fight the feeling to take her back. I don't like sleeping with out her by my side, feeling her body against me and listening to her breathing. I don't like being separated from her full stop.

Anonymous said...

I find all of your heartfelt stories uplifting. I have two boys, 3 and 14 months. I adore them both and can't imagine life with out them. And I know my husband would agree. Since my first was born its been very difficult to seperate from him. I love being with him. Wayching him grow, mature and develop. I don't want to miss anything!
I get a lot of pressure from friends and family to let him go. Seperation happens, I know this, but when he chooses it to happen. He's not pushing me so why would I push him away. I too want our amazing bond to last forever. He will do it when he is ready. I probably wont be but I will be ready for him.
Most recently I have been putting him in a morning program that has me saying good-bye at the door. I hate it. He hates it. He screams and cries and I cry. It goes against all that I believe in as a mother. Even though he is going to a wonderful nuturing school its the seperation that is killing both of us.
At the end of the day, I know whats best for my son. He is my son after all.

Anonymous said...

I am a mother to a 4 month old little girl and I am having the hardest time coping with going back to work. I thought my first week back would be tough, but I am now starting my second week and the Sunday night before the work week, I find myself crying hysterically in the shower. I am only working 32-34 hours a week, but I feel like I still do not have enough time with my daughter. I carried her for 9 months and stayed home with her for her first 4 months, so I feel such a close bond with her. This is the worst my heart has ever hurted and I have been crying all the time. I wondered if adults could have seperation anxiety? Everyone tells me its life and I will have to get over it and that it will get better, but everyone also tells me they grow up so fast so enjoy every moment. I have a couple friends that just had babies also and I feel like I am having a harder time coping with leaving her everyday. I also spend most of my time when I am home and she's sleeping crying and thinking about how I will have to leave her the next day. Any advice?

eagerblogger said...

Everyone is unique and how much one is affected by her separation from her child varies from one mother to another. Just because you feel more wretched being away from your baby, compared to your friends, does not mean it's not normal.

If it is imperative for you to work then the best that you can do is to make the most of the time you can spend with your baby. Knowing that you're working for your family's future will help ease pain of separation.

On the other hand, please make sure you're not suffering from post partum depression. A visit to your doctor can help determine this.

Kari Hammond said...

@ eagerblogger. I would be more concerned for people who find it easy to separate from their baby. It is not natural for human mothers to be away from their young. We are designed to be close at all time to our babies. We should be as close and secure to our children as we can be until they let you know they are otherwise ready. A lot of people will give you grief for nursing, co sleeping, responding quickly when your baby is upset, or not letting him/her be watched by anyone else, but your baby will feel happy secure and confident. You will have an amazing bond built on trust. My son is 7 mo old and he has not once been with a babysitter I haven't left him alone with family. We are together all day everyday. (of course he has time for play and self entertainment and he has company of many people who love him but I am his caregiver. Even when we first brought him home I let my husband sleep through every night and cared for him. He is incredibly happy. Every single person I have met has noted how happy and calm he is compared to other babies. So don't think you are in the wrong for Feeling anxious about leaving your little one. It means you are a good mother because every one of your natural instincts tells you that you should be together.