Let me first start this off by saying that I am not trying to start a debate about breastfeeding vs formula, or natural births vs epirudals or whatever. We are all parents and we all do what WE feel is right for our child. No one else should ever tell us that what we are doing is wrong, and we shouldn't feel guilty for what we choose. We should be supported in whatever it is we choose. (I could write a whole other post how breastfeeding is not, but like I said, I'm not writing this to start a debate. I am writing this from deep inside my heart.)
I am just as this mom said, pro feeding babies'. I, like many moms' experienced birth, parenthood and so many other things about my child in a difference way than I expected, and with that comes emotions. Comes life.
A recent article came out that said "The lives of nearly 900 babies would be saved each year, along with billions of dollars, if 90 percent of U.S. women breast-fed their babies for the first six months of life."
As a mom who is pro breastfeeding to the core, it got to me. Underneath my skin, deep in my blood, and a dagger straight into my heart.
It a one word answer. One word mommies know all too much so it be about boobs, being a working mom, or not getting him that new toy.
Hands-down the worst guilt we guilt ourselves with.
You all know how I struggled with breastfeeding, and I am not sure if I ever posted the end result. I am not sure if I did it out of guilt, or just lack of time or maybe it just didn't cross my mind to but my battle with the boob ended almost 3 months ago.
Reading articles like this make me fee like a failure. I know I am not deep inside, but it is everywhere I turn. Even on the formula sites, or bottle pamplets. It's everywhere. Breastmilk is best, and if I give my child formula, I'm not giving him the best.
Do you know what that does to a parent?
Um, hello mommy guilt!
If I have learned anything by being a parent, I have learned that you have to roll with the punches. Babies don't come with instruction manuals (trust me, I've asked) and every day the rules change.
I had done my research, read numerous books, blogs and articles regarding parenting, birth, labor, and babies. Before that stick dried, and before those lines showed up, I knew how I wanted his birth to go. I knew I wanted to breastfeed, and I knew what I didn't want (ahem, c-section!) When it didn't go the way I planned, I was so confused, and in a giant hormonal shift from, you know, BIRTHING A BABY, and I was a mess. For a moment, I questioned my choices, and the cycle of guilt continued.
The more I read, I started noticing a pattern. I even notice it now as I meet other moms. We as mothers always feel like we need to defend our choices. It starts even before the child comes out, and the questions spread like wildfire.
Are you going to breastfeed? Ew, you are going to BREASTfeed? (I actually got that) Are you going to get the epidural? Say YES to the drugs! Drugs are bad, they hurt the baby! When do
you find out the sex? When are you due? Are you excited? You are going to use cloth diapers....that is crazy! Disposable diapers kills the environment with each poop. Formula is evil. Breast is best!
Then, the child comes into the world and it gets worse! I only feed my child organic. Your potty training now? Your letting your child CRY? You need to let him cry it out. Starting solids is bad! You need to give that baby some real food!
Those that formula feed, go on to explain why they couldn't breastfeed. Those that choose to birth naturally are judged, and those that want an epidural are criticized. Whatever our choice, there is always someone who adamantly disagrees, and so is life.
Coming from someone who struggled, and finally lost the battle with breastfeeding, and had to have a c-section, this gets under my skin...right down to the bone. I struggled (and I find myself STILL struggling) deeply when my body did not provide my child what I wanted to give him. I found myself ragged with guilt with each scoop of formula. Every book, and article and website goes on to say, "breast is best." Each time I read that it is like a stab in the back. I have only been a mother for 5 1/2 months and I already know of this guilt we put on ourselves. I gave my child three months of breast milk, and I should pat myself on the back for at least trying and dealing with the crappy hand i was given. I know I did everything I could and that is all that should matter to me.
We put so much pressure on ourselves that when things do not go our way, we struggle. We feel the need to explain the why's and how's. I asked myself why a million times.
Our child's birth is such a personal, and emotional event. We chose the path best suited for our child. Yet, we find ourselves defending each decision and explaining our actions because we know we did the best we could do, and we want others to feel that too. We don't want others to think we gave up, or that we were weak, or that heaven forbid, we are bad parents. When it all comes down to it, we should all be proud of ourselves.
We are mothers. We have the single most difficult job on earth, and yet we never give ourselves the credit we deserve.
Then, I learned something 5 months later, and talk about mommy guilt exemplified.
When Brady was born, my water broke the night before and it had been so long since he was down in the birth canal without fluid so when he took a big breath when he came out and it tore a hole in his lung. That big breath that tore his lung was the cause of his NICU stay. The cause of so much fear, worry, sadness, and so many other emotions. Emotions I can feel when I think of that moment.
I kept thinking if I had given in sooner to the c-section I could have prevented it. I could have had that magical first time meeting. Breastfeeding would have worked out. Life would have been perfect.
Then, I told myself to shut up.
Trust me, it took me a long time to be able to tell myself that.
Really, Amy, Shut the hell up!
Guilting myself wasn't going to solve anything. Guilting myself is stupid. He is here now. He is growing healthy and fat.
So, for anyone who feels this mommy guilt, do what we would tell our kids not to say.....
tell that little guilty voice to shut the hell up!