Preparing for Motherhood
I am a person that likes to plan (see: overthink) and be prepared for everything. My husband and I purchased baby development and child rearing books, downloaded numerous apps and asked my friends with children endless questions. We even signed up for weekly childbirth prep classes. We completed the birth plan at 32 weeks and submitted it (like a term paper) to my midwife. I packed my hospital bag at 34 weeks with all the necessary essentials listed on the mom blogs. And my wonderful best friends decorated my nursery by 36 weeks. We washed and folded all the baby clothes, stocked up on diapers and wipes and enjoyed the Christmas Eve like anticipation of welcoming our new bundle of joy. However, I have since learned that mom guilt is a bitch and can’t be prepared for.
The Beginnings of Mom Guilt
On June 29th I went on maternity leave, one day after my expected due date. I wasn’t eligible for FMLA because I had only been employed at the health insurance company for five months. Therefore, I needed as much pay as I could get to stave off dipping in to my savings. Since my midwife, and the internet, assured me new mothers rarely go in to labor on time, I stayed later than was recommended. The midwife, and the internet, were right. I didn’t go in to labor on June 28th or the 29th. Nor did labor start anytime in the week that followed. By July 6th I was ready for this kicking, constantly hungry, awake at the wrong time little
brat blessing from God to vacate the premises, post haste. Being pregnant was an amazing and magical experience, but even Disneyland can drive you insane if you never leave.
On July 6th I went to, hopefully, my last prenatal appointment. My midwife saw how little progression I had made and scheduled me to be induced that following Monday. This unexpected addition to my birth plan was disappointing and not at all in line with the “Neo Soul music, essential oil diffusing, soy candle burning” ambiance I envisioned for my birth experience. I’d done some research and found having a serene and relaxed environment helped both mother and baby deal with the trauma of child birth. I really wanted that for my new child. However, avoiding medicinal intervention was no longer an option. Which also meant the water birth I prepared for was off the table. I didn’t realize it then, but mom guilt was already budding, deep in the back of my mind.
A Vow is Made
24 hours of labor, 30 minutes of pushing, and 1 hour of immediate postnatal care, in which I almost had to have a blood transfusion, and our baby is here! We named him Gideon Amias Jones and he is the most beautiful ray of sonshine (I know, the cheese has already started to melt) I’ve ever seen. He also won’t eat, and I am freaking out. Gideon was born tongue tied. He was also 7 pounds and 11 ounces, about the same size as one of my titties. Trying to fit my jumbo nipple in to his little mouth was nerve wrecking and stressful. I felt like I was torturing him and, surprise surprise, stress reduces your milk supply. A milk supply that hasn’t even fully come in yet. The guilt grows.
By the second day in the hospital I am dazed and confused. Between the euphoria of motherhood, the lack of sleep from round-the-clock feeding and the pain meds I received (I had a 2nd degree tear AND internal tearing, they were giving me that good-good), I don’t know if I’m coming or going. However, I’m no quitter and I make a vow, right there in the hospital bed, to nurse Gideon for the first year of his life, if not longer. I want to give my son every advantage that’s in my power to do so.
The Verdict Is In
I stopped breast feeding Gideon last week. We made it exactly 3 months, 5 days, and 30 mins from his birth. I felt like shit at first. Not because I couldn’t make it, but because I felt such immense relief. It has been such a trial these last three months tying to keep him fed. There were many factors that went in to making this decision, I didn’t come by it lightly. I tried my damnedest to not quit, but it just wasn’t working out.
First, Gideon had to have his tongue clipped. Turns out he inherited his short tongue from me. Guilt. Because he wasn’t latching I was not producing enough milk and we supplemented with formula. Guilt. I went back to work sooner than expected and had trouble pumping. Guilt, guilty, mom guilt. I felt like a hamster on a wheel; running and running, but getting nowhere. I went from pumping 2 ounces, to 1 ounce, to half an ounce. I dreaded hearing my phone alarm announce every 2 hours that it was time to pump and fail, again.
What finally made me decide to stop was something an old co-worker and Facebook friend told me. Her name is Rae and she’s a lactation consultant, or as I like to call them, Boobie Angels. She’d made a post about nursing during National Breast Feeding Month and I commented on it. At this time I was still breastfeeding Gideon. I can’t remember everything she and I said, but one comment she made stood out. Fed is best. Meaning, as long as your baby is eating, then you’re being a good mom. That resonated with me and it was something I clung to during my most difficult times. It was that phrase that gave me the courage to say, enough, he’s eating and that’s all that matters. He’s well fed and that’s best.