First-Time Dad Feels 'Like a Reptile' for Not Bonding With Newborn
Welcoming a new baby into the family is a tough transition. It’s hard work, yes, but sometimes when new parents don’t feel they’re bonding or falling immediately in love with the newborn — which is perfectly normal, btw — they start to question themselves. Our hearts are breaking for a guilt-ridden first-time-dad who took to Reddit to admit that he isn’t head over heels for his baby.
“I don’t know if anybody will read this, but I don’t feel love for my 2.5-month-old son. I know people are supposed to be overfilled with joy and just want to spend time with their babies all day, but I just don’t have any of those emotions. It totally feels like a chore,” wrote Redditor Wherewillwerow in a post titled, “First-time dad not feeling connected to my son. Feel like a reptile.”
“I still soothe him. I still change his diapers. I still burp him. I play with him on the play mat. I talk/make sounds to him. I do what I’m supposed to do, but I don’t feel any connection with him. When he isn’t crying or fighting sleep, it’s nice to see him change and grow, but it doesn’t fill me with joy,” he added.
“Friends tell us to cherish this time but I see no value. ‘My favorite is 8 months!’ or ‘Oh, it’s so fun when he starts to interact with you!’ — 8 months?! That’s fucking August, and that seems like light-years away,” he continued. “Yes he has started to smile and that’s cool, I’ll admit, but frankly, it doesn’t undo all the chore aspect and the frustrations of taking care of him. Don’t get me wrong. I still take care of him and try to find ways to help him feel more comfortable but I feel absolutely no satisfaction. My wife thinks I’m stone-cold-blooded person, and I never thought I would feel this much apathy — especially towards my own son, but here we are.”
This poor dad! The early months are so hard!
“Judge me. Tell me I’m a horrible father and that I don’t deserve my son. I feel so trapped and helpless feeling this way… I don’t know if I will ever connect with him. I loved my dad growing up and I want to have that relationship with my son, but right now he’s just a crying potato that poops and is a complete annoyance 95% of the day. What the fuck is wrong with me?”
Reddit parents were quick to come to the rescue with similar anecdotes, explaining how it’s totally normal to not feel connected to your new “crying potato.”
“Nothing is wrong with you. This is so normal. For many people, both men and women, it takes time to connect,” replied Reddit user Rosendalen. “Some feel that love instantly; for others it takes months or even, like in my case, a year. None in my immediate family has felt a connection instantly, and if you read the various childrearing subs, you will see it is a common theme. The truth is that it is a chore and with very little reward.”
“Life isn’t a movie,” said Redditor MrsCandySmith. “I think the rush of love is a great concept if it happens, but not exactly realistic. Getting to know your son is like getting to know any new friend, it can take time and you are NOT a bad person for needing time.”
More than one commenter pointed out that dads can develop postpartum depression as well as moms.
“Dad to a 9-month-old, just want to add to all the supportive comments here that postpartum depression can affect dads as well; it did to me,” wrote PineapplePoltergeist. “Shortly after my son’s birth, I had to seek help and go on antidepressants to help with my issues. I too felt disconnected and was quick to frustrate or anger. Your concern over not having that connection is the biggest reason you’ll get there. It usually takes 3 months to get your ‘sea legs’ as a parent. Once it does, it gets a whole lot more fun! It also helped me to reframe my time at work (which I also enjoyed) as me providing for my family. Instead of feeding the baby, I’m working to buy the formula. Instead of changing a diaper, I’m buying the next case! Changed my perspective. Try and be kind to yourself. August will get here a lot faster than you think!”
We really hope this dad cuts himself some slack and realizes what he’s going through is not abnormal and he is not, we repeat, is not a bad dad or a reptile.
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