Bonding Over a Bucket
“Ok, Lord, this is NOT helping with our bonding!” I was screaming the words to God in my heart as I tried to murmur reassuring words to my retching son, willing myself not to gag. I do not deal well with vomit. And, ironically, I had prayed earlier in the morning for help in bonding with my new son. He had been in our home for less than two months and I loved him but did not feel that strong maternal bond yet.
When my children have colds or fevers, I love to snuggle up with them and read books. I whip up homemade chicken soup with lemon, hot chocolate and warm cinnamon applesauce. But when the vomiting begins, I want nothing more than to run away. I break into a cold sweat and hyperventilate. My stomach twists and tenses and my gag reflex kicks in overdrive. I hold my breath until I about pass out. I become a compulsive hand-washer and will change my clothes and hand towels every hour. Cuddling is not going to happen unless I am covered in towels and the child has a bucket under their chin. Impressive mothering, huh?
So we had a sick little boy who is also grieving and emotionally needy and a crazy woman drenched in sweat and gagging as she rubs his back. Not exactly the nurturing mother he needed to bond with during this critical time.
A few short hours later, the situation became very serious. My son was unable to keep down even a teaspoon of liquid and he was very lethargic and unable to speak. It was time to head to the hospital for medical intervention. In the emergency room, I cradled his little head in my arms as the nurses tried a third time to find a vein able to support an IV. He was so dehydrated his veins had become sticky, and they were unable to insert the needle. He quietly cried, but did not have enough moisture for tears. Instead, my tears were running down his cheeks as I kissed him and prayed. “Ah, there is that maternal love I was longing to feel. Thank you, God, for this gift. But please heal my baby quickly.”
That day was a huge step in our bonding process. My son was able to sense my love and devotion to him, in spite of the thick layer of towels and a bucket between us. I was able to feel the maternal stirrings for this sweet boy instead of feeling like his babysitter. Some days we seem to take a few steps backward but we know with patience and reliance on our Father’s unfailing love, we will continue to knit together as a family.