Mom guilt. It’s sewn into our mental fibres, the moment our little bundles are placed into our arms. In that moment we make the promise to do our best by this beautiful tiny gift, that will become the purpose of our existence.
I first experienced “mom guilt” when my son was born. I was the first time Mommy, who read every book on parenting, when baby arrives, the how to’s of nursing, the ten principles on how to make your baby sleep through the night, and any other how to book that I could get my hands on. I thought I had this Mommy thing in the bag! I was prepared and ready. You can imagine my surprise, when my son arrived and I immediately tried to breastfeed, and nothing happened. I mean, literally he wouldn’t latch and if he did latch, he didn’t properly latch. I tried everything…from positioning him differently, to hooking myself to a mechanical breastfeeding pump…I looked like a freaking dairy cow! By this point I was exhausted, depressed and my nipples looked like they had been run through a cheese grater. I had hit rock bottom. Now I know some of you experienced Breastfeeding Moms will read this and begin disecting the details and want to make recommendations on “things I should have tried”, please don’t. Not only am I way beyond this point in my life, but I am also ok with my decision. Now getting back to where I left off. It got to a point when I knew this breastfeeding thing wasn’t going to happen and then an immense rush of guilt fell over me like a blanket. I felt like a complete failure! Every book, every piece of literature I had read up to that point stated this was the best nutrition for my baby’s development, prompted higher IQ scores, boosted their immune systems, and made them less likely to develop frequent ear infections, amongst other wonderful things; and now, here I was this mother who couldn’t give her baby, what should come naturally, the best form of nutrition possible. I had to except the horrifying fact (at least that’s the implications I felt ) my baby would be bottle fed…da da da (insert gloomy sound affect here).
I would talk to other mothers and listen to their stories of how “nursing came so easy” and would be secretly loathing their existence. In my mind I’d be like, “if you only knew”. Then that blanket of guilt would reappear and I would be beating myself up, saying in my mind, “you didn’t try hard enough”, when looking back, I honestly couldn’t have tried harder.
I never thought I would get over that feeling of guilt, but it helped when I had a conversation with a very wise woman….my husband’s grandmother. I loved this woman, but even more once these words left her mouth. She said to me, “you are his mother and know what is best. Relax, because if you are stressed, he can sense it, besides, I fed all my kids Carnation canned milk and look how good they all turned out.” Honestly THE BEST advice I ever received and to this day, it not only makes me smile, remembering those words, but when the “mom guilt” peers it’s little dark eyes, I replay that conversation in my head. I remember to not sweat it, I am their mother and doing my best IS enough and the same goes for all you mothers that beat yourselves up. You are doing great jobs! You ARE doing enough because simply by questioning if it’s enough, you are loving your children and wanting only the best for them.
For the record, my son is now 10 and he is a very intelligent, happy, and healthy young man, who makes me proud each day…even if he was a bottle fed baby!