The guilt…it eats at you. No matter what I do as a mom, I am always second guessing my decisions, wondering if I made the right choice. It started when I was pregnant. Was this really a good time to be pregnant? I live in a 1 bedroom condo, where would the baby fit? I had only been working at my job for 5 months, was this really the time to be telling them I need to go on maternity leave?
Then you move on and start picking out what to purchase for your baby, and what to put on your registry. Not only was that an overwhelming experience walking into Babies R Us with a list in one hand and a zapper in the other, but how do you really know what are the “best” products. I didn’t have hours to research the latest findings in science about whether to use glass bottles, or plastic bottles and should I put them in a dishwasher. Then I walk to the car seat wall and there are at least 60 styles, next to 50 different types of strollers. Do I read all the recommendations online? Do I do my own research and try to find out which is safest, which wears the least, has the best ratings? Or do I stand there and think, “oh, I like that color and pattern, and this seems to be lightweight so I can lift it myself?”
I had a difficult birth that resulted in an emergency cesarean and I was unconscious for his birth, and then a week later I was back in the hospital with complications from his birth including sepsis, e-coli, c-diff and a variety of other ailments. While I was lying in my hospital bed I would cry and cry because I felt guilty that I wasn’t with my son. My week old baby was in the world without me, and the hospital wouldn’t even allow him to visit. Mind you, he was perfectly content with my parents who not only raised 3 of their own children, my mom owns a nursery school that she has ran for over 36 years. Due to the medication I was put on I had to stop breast feeding, and I felt so guilty because I had always been told that “breast is best.”
For months even before I gave birth, I would lie in bed at night crying and trying to scheme a way that I didn’t have to go to work, that I could be a stay at home mom. Every time I visited the center that he was to attend, I would leave in tears not wanting him to be somewhere with strangers, I was so guilty that I couldn’t take care of him.
I have a “friend” from high school who posts online all the time the latest and greatest information that she finds, with condescending comments. Lately it has been stories like the sun really is good for you, the sunblock you are putting on your kids is what is bad. There was a link to a story about how Cesarean Delivery May Cause Epigenetic Changes In Babies DNA. Immediately I was horrified, how did I let my poor baby have epigenetic changes, what was wrong with me? The guilt came rearing back.
Then I stopped. What is an epigenetic change? How will that actually affect my happy and healthy little boy? My aunt had cesareans for both of her children’s births and they are happy, healthy, well-adjusted 20 something year olds.Also, I didn’t choose to have a cesarean, in fact I had spent 4 days being induced, trying so hard to have a vaginal birth. But life got in the way. As my mom would quote, “The best laid schemes of mice and men, often go awry…”
Well…you know what… I am sick of feeling guilty! Not every decision I make is going to be perfect, but as long as I try to keep my family healthy and safe, and have the best intentions, there is not much else I can do. We moved to a bigger house and sold the condo. My work was excited to hear about my pregnancy and threw me a surprise baby shower with lots of gifts, cupcakes and decorations. So the birth wasn’t as planned, but we both recovered and are healthy now. He has not suffered at all from formula, and actually is in the 95+percentile for height. He hits all major milestones on time or even early. Currently, at 5 months, he has two teeth with a third about to poke through, he sits up almost completely on his own, gets up on his hands and knees and rocks back and forth as if he is a day or so away from crawling, he smiles at everyone he meets, and has been sleeping through the night since 8 weeks old.
The daycare that I cried and fretted about for months before he was even born, he loves! They send me pictures of him smiling, interacting with other children, going on walks, and making projects. He sings and coos in the car on the way to and from daycare and always gives his teacher a huge smile in the morning when he is dropped off. When I peek in at night he is usually playing with a toy, taking a snooze or watching the older children with a smile. The stroller and car seat seem to be working out fine, however his legs almost look too long for it. And the week he spent living with my mom is nothing but a happy distant memory for him. Between her, my dad and my sister I am sure he was spoiled with love the entire week.
Where did all that guilt, worry and stress get me? Nowhere. I would love to say that I had a great awakening now, and will never feel guilty about any decision I make for my son moving forward. I would like to say that but even as I type it, I know it is ridiculous. However I am going to make a conscience effort to try and stop beating myself up over elements that are out of my control. I am going to try to make an effort to live in the moment with my son, and not sit there worrying if there is a better car seat he should be using or if I am doing some sort of irrevocable harm to him by putting a hat and sunscreen on him when we are spending the day at the lake. And I am not going to let the guilt eat at me… or at least I will try.
My happy baby at daycare: