How reading helped me bond with my baby boy

Published on: 12 January 2018 Author: Jess Hible

Mum to two children already, Jess didn't expect to get post-natal depression with her third. When it happened, it knocked her sideways. So how did reading with her baby get her out of those dark early days?

Reading has always been a big part of my life. Since I was very small, I've loved stories and been surrounded by books. I always knew that when I had my own children, I wanted to introduce them to the wonderful world of books.

But I didn't realise how important reading would become.

Weekly family routine

When we had our eldest son in October 2006, I was amazed when we got asked if we would like to register him to the library at only four weeks old. I thought it was a really silly thing to do because he couldn't go pick his books, tell me which ones to read, and he didn't look too bothered. But we did in fact join him – and going to our local library became part of our weekly routine.

This carried on when I had my second baby in December 2008. She also became a regular member and we read and enjoyed lots of stories together.

I cannot count how many times I've taken a stroll in the deep, dark wood with the mouse and the gruffalo.

So when I found out I was pregnant in June 2016, I was so excited to do all these kind of things with our new much longed for bundle: all the baby classes, playgroups, going for walks, catching up with friends over coffee, and (the most important thing) spending quality time with my baby.

In March 2017, I welcomed our gorgeous boy into the world: Edward. It should have been one of the most happiest times in my life. But it did, in fact, become one of the darkest and hardest battles, so far.

Admitting I wasn't OK

The newborn days started going by in a blur: each minute felt like an hour. Deep down, I knew I wasn't feeling right but hoped it was just exhaustion and hormones. Those two things really don't mix well together.

Every time I looked at our gorgeous little guy or anyone would ask me a question related to him, it would fill me with dread as I didn't know how I felt about him.

Eventually, when he was around eight weeks old (and after weeks of acting like I had it all together), I broke down to my husband and admitted the words that were so terrible for me to say. The sentence 'I don't love my baby' left my mouth. Going to seek help was the first change in my journey and it felt like such a massive hurdle to overcome. However, the biggest hoop to jump through was looking into my baby's eyes and wanting to feel something other than dread and numbness.

Story time snuggles

One day, and a big part in our journey to bonding, I picked up a book that my friend had bought Edward as a gift. It was the tale Guess How Much I Love You, about Big Nutbrown and Little Nutbrown hare.

This little reading session was one of the first times that I actually sat and held my baby without wanting to pass him to the next available person. It was just myself and him, and it actually started to feel how it should. So every day, from this particular afternoon, reading and books became part of our everyday routine.

Now Edward is ten months old and reading is still one of our favourite activities to enjoy together. He really does love his story time. He's quite the bookworm, just like his older siblings.

Reading really did save our relationship from going down an even darker path – and it helped cement the bond we needed to survive and get through those dark days. 

I'd also like to say to other mums out there: please do go seek help if you feel like you need to. It really is OK not to be OK. 

Want to read more? Jess blogs at and also has a YouTube channel.

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