I didn’t bond with my daughter when she was born.

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I’m just going to say it.

I didn’t bond with my daughter when she was first born.

In fact, when they put her on my chest, I asked them to take her off. I was consumed by anxiety and just kept asking “Is she okay?” because somehow, I couldn’t believe she would be healthy and that I could be this blessed. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, and her birth was the first moment of a long journey of feeling like I couldn’t allow myself to just love her without being all consumed by worrying about her- also known as postpartum anxiety.

But that’s a story for another time.

When they checked on Sienna after she was born she was wailing on the table, surrounded by nurses and doctors.

I yelled at Dave to go check on her and, in my panic-stricken voice, kept asking “What is wrong with her? Is she okay?” Dave went over to check on her. She continued wailing then suddenly I hear Dave talking in this sweet, calm voice: “Sienna. It’s okay. Honey, honey, it’s okay.” And…. I swear, like magic, she stopped crying, and moved her head towards the sound of his voice. My mom caught this all on video, and I cherish that video more than any of the hundreds I have taken of my daughter since.

The nurses proceed to tell Dave to stop talking to her, because they want her to yell to clear her lungs out and to be able to check on her. Every time he speaks she becomes silent and transfixed on his voice. Dave walked away (in happy tears), and their bond was forever solidified, as she already knew him before she was born….. his voice, the first to calm and soothe her out of the womb.

In the hectic weeks to follow, Dave (and, frankly, my mom!) were Sienna’s primary caregivers. I would obsessively worry about her. I struggled with breastfeeding and pumping and was consumed with how much she was eating. Was she breathing while she slept? Was she safe? But when it came time to care for her, I just couldn’t do it. Dave did it all. He was with her every moment. He rose to the occasion and has never let me down since. When he left for work after 3 weeks, Sienna may not have “known” he was gone (object permanence not quite formed yet), but when he came back she sure as heck knew her “comfort” and “calm” was back. Dave left work early almost every day, working feverishly and skipping lunch and any breaks to get home as fast as he could to help me, knowing I was suffering at the time and needed all the help I could get.

I don’t really have the words to describe how much you can love someone when they save you, but save me he did. Dave was meant to be a dad, and meant to have a daughter, and put on this Earth for me and Sienna, I know that for sure. Watching him love her, and watching him continue to be that calming influence he was from day 1…. there is nothing like it at all. I am forever thankful to have married him. I can’t think of those first early weeks without tearing up, knowing how things could have gone differently had I not had a partner like Dave there. While I have since bonded with Sienna in the most incredible way, I know that even though she grew inside of me all those months, it was Dave who she first recognized and bonded to….. and for that I am grateful.

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kelly Cunha. Submit your story here. For our best love stories, subscribe to our free email newsletter.

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