Written by Catie Wilkins


The advice is Bond. Baby Bond

Her baby may still be firmly on the inside, but that hasn’t stopped the world and her midwife telling Catie Wilkins it’s time to start the bonding process.

Illustration by Claire Jones

“Remember to make time to bond with your baby,” said my midwife, baby books and preparing for motherhood apps.

“Okidoki thanks, I’ll get right on that.” I replied vaguely, in the same voice I use to say I must write to my gran.

Because how am I really meant to bond with my baby? I mean, really? Sure, it has ear bones now, and can hear muffled sounds. But it’s still sort of trapped in a dark womb (as in uterus, I don’t have a writing impediment).

It can’t see anything. It doesn’t have language.

It’s not like we can marvel at the Grand Canyon, or experience an amazing sunset together. We can’t spend the day by the seaside and then buy matching hats (well we can, but the baby will be none the wiser whether there’s a baseball cap balanced on its bump or not).

Buying it an ice cream would also be pointless. (You can buy yourself an ice cream though, and then eat it. Then it’s kind of like you shared it. This is partly why so far I’ve mainly been bonding with my baby via the medium of ice cream.)

I’m not deliberately trying to be difficult or lazy. I just feel a bit like some of the suggestions from the experts aren’t necessarily going to work for me. Let’s take a look shall we?

Sing to it

Thing is, I can’t sing. I’m completely tone deaf (to the point where my husband thinks I deliberately tricked him and hid this information until after we were married).

If I sing to my baby, there’s a decent chance I’ll be teaching it all the wrong notes, perpetuating the trouble for another generation.

I would love to be able to sing. But I know my lullaby limitations and I care about my unborn baby too much to put it through that.

Hmm. I guess I must have bonded with it a bit already.

Play it music

This I can do. Though obviously I don’t know what its musical tastes are. I’ve had to play it an eclectic mix of the classics. Everything from The Beatles to The Jackson Five to a bit of 80’s Whitney. Then someone pointed out none of that was technically classical, although the dictionary definition of classical just means ‘something of established excellence’, so Whitney totally qualifies.

That argument aside, I panic-downloaded The Best Of Mozart because I don’t want to be a bad mother.

Then I thought, well while we’re ‘educating’ I probably have a duty to teach the baby about all the different cultures of the world.
My baby could be gay, for example. So I’ve been playing lots of Dolly Parton. (I’m kidding. I know there’s way more to gay culture than that. I’m also playing it the Pet Shop Boys.)

As I’ve always believed the best relationships are founded on honesty, I focused my next attempt on just being honest: “Hello there. Me again. Please stay alive and don’t hurt me too much on the way out.”

Basically the whole thing has got out of control and stressful. And somewhat off the task of simple bonding.

Talk to it

I felt awkward at my first, tentative stab at this.

I said: “Um, hi. I’m really glad you attached yourself to my womb lining.” A bit formal perhaps, so I added: “And make yourself at home. Mi útero e su útero”.

But honestly, I’m not the kind of person that can get away with throwing some carefree, jaunty Spanish anatomy talk into my conversations. Soon enough, my baby will realise this and remember me as a fraud.

As I’ve always believed the best relationships are founded on honesty, I focused my next attempt on just being honest: “Hello there. Me again. Please stay alive and don’t hurt me too much on the way out.”

The latter half of my maternal plea made me wonder if the actual biggest obstacle to bonding is the fear of pain and the unknown. Giving birth seems like a lady Iron Man challenge for the vagina. And I’m really much more of a 20-minutes-of-light-swimming kind of girl.

You would never be expected to bond with any other person you lived in fear of violently ripping up part of your body. Everyone would tell you this was a toxic and dysfunctional relationship. You could probably even get a restraining order. But just because it’s a baby doing it, everyone lets it off.

Anxiety-ridden anticipation aside though, I continued with the attempts to bond with my unborn child, even though it felt incredibly one-sided and lacking in potential for success.

Then my husband decided to have a go. He put his mouth on the bump to have a little father-child chat, and the baby responded by kicking him in the face.

It turns out we may have bonded a lot more than I thought.

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Written by Catie Wilkins

Catie Wilkins is a writer, comedian and children’s author who likes jokes and stories.