Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mommy Guilt

...The two loves of my life...

Okay, so the reason I wanted to start a new online journal/blog/whatever they are calling it these days, is because I've just become a mommy for the first time. I'm so excited and happy and I love my little boy more than I could ever imagine. However, there are also a lot of feelings, emotions, thoughts, etc. that have nothing to do with the arrival of this amazing little person, and everything to do with "how the heck do I get my body back to normal?!" and "if boobs are meant for breastfeeding, why the heck isn't it working out?" Which, of course, in my mind, is then followed by "what then, is wrong with me?" or "what am I doing wrong?"

The logical answer? Nothing, of course.

BUT, that would be the rational thing to think- and way too easy for a worrier and easily guilt-tripped person like myself. Right? Right.

So, those are the two thoughts that I am most struggling with right now. Yes, I admit, one is entirely vain (but seriously, how do you get yourself back to normal after someone cut open your stomach muscles and left all that extra baby weight?! I mean, couldn't they  have just given me lipo since they were already in there?!) and the other is something I'll probably never have a real answer to.  

When Owen was born, I had just been through 30+ hours of labor, then a c-section. I honestly don't remember much during those first 2 days of labor and the ensuing hazy hours after, but I do remember attempting to breastfeed (mostly).

I knew, from the moment I found out I was pregnant, that I wanted to be able to provide this for my baby. Before he arrived, I always wondered how a shy person, such as myself, would deal with whipping out my boobs in the hospital for all the world to see, but also how I would deal with that on a more regular, day to day, basis once we left the hospital. That was my biggest worry. Otherwise, I never once thought I would have any trouble breastfeeding, and I knew that no matter what I would deal with the uncomfortableness of it and enjoy providing for my baby.
So, what's the big problem then, right? Well, I did get over the modesty, asap, and I was ready to start breatfeeding. (And, btw, you get over any shyness or modesty faster than you can blink, once you've passed through those labor and delivery doors!) So, the nurses helped, the lactation consultant helped, everyone freaking helped. They were all great and supportive. However, those first few days in the hospital, after 30 hours of labor, I guess I was out of it and my body had had enough. I don't remember having much energy, and despite the drugs they were giving me, my incision was making itself known. I could barely hold on to Owen, when he would struggle with learning how to latch. But, I persisted...we were in the hospital for seven days, and I continued to try every day, all day. 

On his second day, Owen was poked, proded, circumcised, given shots, and became jaundiced all in the same day. Then, he became really weak and didn't want to try to latch. So, he started losing weight and the jaundice got worse. After the first few days, when my guilt at not being able to give my little guy the sustinance he needed became out of control, a kind nurse finally convinced me that supplementing would not be the end of the world. Then, the lactation consultant said the same thing- she said the most important thing was to get Owen healthy and strong again, so we could go home. So, I relented (and was very relieved to have "professionals" telling me it was okay) and we supplemented. He recieved mostly breastmilk, but when he went to the nursery at night, the nurses gave him formula.

(On a side note, he went to the nursery, because he was under biliruben lights for his jaundice AND he had been spitting up to the point of milk coming out of his nose unexpectedly and suddenly- Craig and I were both so exhausted that we were terrified we wouldn't hear him choking and we wouldn't wake up fast enough.)

Anywho, SO, we get to go home, and I'm pumping like a mad man, (I had plenty to go around, that's for sure) and I'm trying to get Owen to latch...but we just couldn't get it to work. So, the week after we got home, I called to meet with the lactation consultant again. That's when Owen's vomitting got worse...much worse. Literally, every ounce of milk (and it was all breastmilk at this point- I stopped supplementing once we left the hopsital, and I just pumped, again, like a mad man) that went in, seemed to flood right back out, 30 minutes later. And it would choke him, pour out of his nose, he'd wake up screaming, panicked, and gasping for air. To make a long story (sorry) slightly less...long...after meeting with his pediatrician on numerous occassions, and numerous panicked late night phone calls, the decision was made to place Owen on formula for sensitive tummies. So, when Owen was 4 weeks old, I stopped pumping and trying to breastfeed.

Yet, I've been dealing with monstrous guilt at not having been able to make this work. And, I know it wasn't "me"...I still feel like "what if there is something else we could've tried?" (We did try adding cereal to the breastmilk, he still wasn't holding it down)...

It's hard not to feel inadaquate as a mommy, when everything you read and hear states that breastfed babies are healthier. It's even harder when there are so many people that I know that have been successful at it with their babies. On top of that, you add the extremely opinionated view points of some people, who unabashedly make mommies who don't breastfeed feel like the scum of the earth, and you've got a recipe for one supersized serving of G-U-I-L-T.

All I want is for Owen to grow up happy, healthy, and strong. I don't know if feeding him formula will cause him to have ear infections, allergies, or other problems, but I certainly hope not. All I know is, yes, he still struggles with keeping his food down, and he is taking medicine to help, but I am a less stressed person now that I'm not hooked up to a pump 24-7 AND he is gaining weight again. I know I'm doing what's best for my family, but that's the rational side.

Like I said, I'm a woman, a wife, and a mommy- therefore I'm irrational and I think many other mommies would agree- doesn't "guilt" sometimes feel like it should be your middle name?! In general, I've always felt like there was something I wasn't doing right, or well enough, for someone. It's just gotten even worse now that I know I have a little guy that depends on me, and that I would do, or give, anything for, to make happy and healthy. I guess it's just going to take time to realize that I am not super mom (and no one has asked me to be- that's in my head, I know), and nothing is ever "perfect"...oh, and you can't please everyone, so why try?

Whew, it feels good to get that out.

Until next time...

♥ Belle ♥


  1. First off, I'm soooo happy you started blogging. Second, a really good post. I can imagine that it felt like a weight off your shoulders to get all of that out. I'm not a mom, but I can imagine the guilt that you felt about the breastfeeding not working. Sometimes, I think that stuff just happens. But girl, you tried and tried. And I think that people who criticize others for not breastfeeding are really criticizing those that don't try and don't want to try. I heard the stupidest thing once. In a college class, a woman said "I'm not breastfeeding because my breasts are for my husband.".... Ummmm....ok. I just don't understand people who wouldn't try to. You had intended to, and you tried, so I wouldn't beat myself up over it. I am so happy to hear that you and Owen are doing great. I can't wait to hear more. Love you, girl :)

  2. Thanks Aleta- the great (and funny) thing is, the people that matter most (i.e. Craig, my Mom and family, and my friends) have been super supportive and kind- yet it was (is) still a struggle for me to not beat myself up. I'm trying though- I just know anytime in the future that he gets sick my brain's going to go "that's 'cuz he wasn't breastfed!" Stupid brain. LOL.

  3. Well, sister...I work at NFRMC L&D & let me just tell you...DO NOT FEEL GULITY!! Who cares how your baby eats as long as he's eating & growing!! I was a bottle baby and I think I turned out pretty fantastic HAHA!!