Susan looked at her baby lying in her husband's lap. Instead of that overwhelming sense of joy she expected, she instead felt fear, apprehension, that deep down worry that "I am over my head here." Susan's baby was born two weeks ago and Susan, the adopting mother, and her husband were in the delivery room.
Sammie was born full-term, robust, and healthy by all accounts. But whenever Susan would hold and talk to her newborn, he would turn his head and look the other way.
"I think he is looking for his real Mommy!" Susan confesses in tears during this first well baby check-up.
Susan is a first-time mother who comes to motherhood through the long and turbulent road of infertility, disappointment, and ultimately (and thankfully) to adoption. Her feelings of insecurity are normal, but unfortunately, her interpretation of her baby's behavior is mistaken.
Sammie is not "looking for his real Mommy." He is instead demonstrating a normal newborn behavior call "Switching Off." (See video clip at http://www.hugyourbaby.com/skills.html) Some babies who are slightly over-stimulated may actually turn away from an enthusiastic mother's talking face. This ability to "Switch Off" is actually a sign of Sammie's amazing ability to keep himself from being over-stimulated. He looks away from Mom for a second to keep himself calm.
Susan is startled to learn from Jan that "Switching Off" is a sign of Sammie's competence, NOT his rejection of her mothering. She is encouraged to stop speaking to Sammie for a few seconds if he "Switches Off." Right there in the exam room Susan practices this advice. When she stops speaking and just looks at Sammie, he holds her gaze. In this moment of mutual sharing a new step toward bonding to one another occurs. Susan now knows that Sammie IS looking at his REAL Mommy--right now!