When Babe was just four or five days old I felt like a complete failure. Her billi was so high and she was so lethargic. She didn’t want to suck, just wanted to sleep. People were telling me to supplement and I was determined not to. But I was a serious mess. Finally my midwife told me a tiny bit of formula to get her energy up would not be the end of the world.
I gave her one ounce. Her eyes got wide and she became so alert. I started crying hysterically. I felt like I had been starving my baby! I was at once so ashamed that I had let my stubbornness prevent my baby from getting the nourishment she needed AND I was terrified that I wasn’t producing the milk my baby needed.
Then I got a pump and the midwife showed me how to connect a tiny tube to a syringe and tape it next to my nipple so Babe would get more reward for her efforts. (If I had known then what I know now, I would have put an SNS on my registry, just in case.) She started responding much better to my breast and in just a few days she was strong enough to suck well. We dropped our makeshift supplementer and that was that. (The only other time she for formula was when I was in the hospital and we were waiting for donor milk.)
I have had a few bouts of serious exhaustion and thankfully Hubby was there to take Babe for a long walk or just hang around the house while I Postpartum Depression. A few good hours of sleep always cured me so I realized it was just new parent exhaustion. (Trust me, Husband has had his share of exhaustion too!) But let me tell you, I feel like I’m failing Babe at least once a day!
Babe wants to be held A LOT. That was very tough in the beginning because, between my DSP and my gallbladder removal surgery, I was in pain most of the time. (I still am but now most days it’s maybe a 3 or 4 on a scale of 1 to 10 and not the 7 or 8 it used to be.) But she was a newborn so she didn’t mind if I had her cuddled up in my lap while I say in my recliner. Now she is nearly seven months old and she wants to be everywhere and see everything! But she’s starting to play with toys so sometimes I’ll sit her in front of one and try to get a few things done.
She’s fine by herself for a while but then I realize she stopped playing and is just staring up at me. When I make eye contact she gets a huge smile across her face and I feel like she’s thinking, “Momma, what are you doing that’s so important you can’t play with me?” CRUSH!
I was talking recently with a friend that had suffered from Postpartum Depression when her baby was a newborn. She said there’s so much guilt that comes along with feeling like you failed your baby. I can’t relate to the PPD but I can definitely relate to feeling like I failed my baby.
I think a lot of Moms have guilt that they don’t talk about because they feel like their guilt is over something less challenging than the next Moms guilt and they’re afraid they’ll be seen as the skinny person saying they need to loose weight. And I think plenty of stay at home Moms feel like they can’t talk about how hard it is to be a SAHM because they made the choice to stay home and people will think that they should just go back to work if they need adult stimulation. And breastfeeding Moms feel like they can’t talk about how hard breastfeeding is because they’ll be told to use formula. And formula feeding Moms can’t talk about their reasons for using formula because they’ll be told they should have found a way to get their baby breastmilk.
I saw an amazing TED talk at Upworthy where the speaker, Ash Beckham, pointed out that “Hard is not relative. Hard is hard.” She said “We need to stop ranking our hard against everyone else’s hard to make us feel better or worse”… “and just commiserate on the fact that we all have hard.” And what I’ve come to think is that guilt, like hard, is not relative. It doesn’t matter if you’re a stay-at-home-parent, a work-at-home-parent, or a working parent. It doesn’t matter if your baby was fed breastmilk or formula. It doesn’t matter whether or not you vaccinate. It doesn’t matter if you CIO or WIO.
We all know that being a parent is no walk in the park. (Unless you’re actually taking your kid for a walk in the park. (Except, of course, when said kid has a nuclear meltdown in the park!)) That is why it is so important for us to have people with whom we can speak truthfully and from the heart without fear of being judged, or compared, or weighed and measured in any way.
We need to commiserate. We need community. We need to hold each other up.
Where do you turn when you need to talk?