As a mom who works full time outside of the house, I am constantly guilt ridden. There are several reasons for this guilt. Some are justifiable and some are not but who am I to argue. I am, and always have been, full of guilt. I am a people pleaser so it is in my nature.
Here are just some of the reasons I feel guilty. 1. For leaving Luisa Monday to Friday (yes using her name, she is real after all) 2. For knowing that for me, working outside of the home is much easier that being a stay at home mom. I truly believe any other working mother will tell you this. I deal with adults that can speak their minds. Sometimes they act like babies, but at lease they can "use their words" (for the most part) 3. For missing out on her daily milestones 4. For never having had a total breakdown because I went back to work (I swear, I love her, I just like working too)
Last weekend though, I had the best time just playing with Luisa and hanging out. She is almost 10 months now and she is so animated and funny. She is a little mimic and just hilarious. Come Sunday night, I knew I couldn't leave her on Monday morning. I made the decision to take Monday off and hang out with her all day. Two of my other mommy friends were taking their babies to the beach so we would join them. y Husband also had Monday off because, well, he takes about every 4th Monday off to do God knows what.
Monday morning arrived and Luisa woke promptly at 5:30 am. I jumped out of bed so excited for our day. We started off with breakfast with Daddy. We ordered Luisa a giant fruit bowl and laughed as she squirreled away melon in her cheek. Luckily the restaurant was empty so we didn't have to worry when she decided to play a song by banging the bowl on the table. We left the restaurant and Luisa decided that she needed a little nap. Funny, she never naps with her nanny but for mama? A nap. I cleaned up a bit and got her things ready for the beach.
We met a good friend for a walk on the boardwalk and then headed to the beach. We spent the rest of the afternoon there with her friends. The babies ate sand, the mamas drank coffee and I just enjoyed my daughter and my friends.
The day ended with a sand filled bed (mine, I didn't want to change crib sheets, stupid idea) and dinner with Daddy. Oh, and the ENORMOUS feeling of guilt for calling in sick. Sometimes I just can't win.
My very first failure as a now mother was that I only breast fed L for three weeks. She was born ready to breastfeed. She latched on minutes after she was clean and warm and wrapped like a little pink burrito. The problem was that I had no idea what to do. She latched on incorrectly and the damage was already apparent after the first night.
Every time she she woke to eat, I would call the nurse to come in and help me latch her on. The nurses I had were phenomenal. I loved them and they were very helpful, but it hurt so bad I didn't know what to do. On the second morning, our nurse came in and told me two things.
1. She ordered the lactation consultant to come in that day.
2. She was bringing me a nipple shield. (a what??)
When the lactation consultant arrived, I could tell by her demeanor that she and I were not going to get along. She was abrasive and rude. She took one look at my breasts and told me that I had done so much damage that I should not feed L for the rest of the day. I needed to give my body a break and some time to heal. This was at about 9 am. She said to wait until that evening to latch her on again.
All day we waited. At about 6 I called a nurse and asked her if she could send in the lactation lady so I could feed L. She seemed confused because the lactation consultants leave at 4. I couldn't believe it. By the time the nurse got to my room, I was in tears. She helped me feed L and got me through the night.
The next morning, the night nurse came in and told me that she was having a new lactation consultant come in that morning. She know the first lady and I were not a match. I was relieved when the new gal came in. She was nice, patient and helpful. She got the pump, helped my husband and I learn how to finger feed (L had jaundice so she was already being given formula to help with that) and explained how we could get L the formula she needed while breastfeeding her.
We left the hospital a mere 36 hours after L was born. I knew I wasn't ready, but I also knew my husband could not take one more night in there so home we went. I was so afraid to latch L on due to the pain that I only pumped for the first few days. We went to a breastfeeding support group when L was 4 days old. This was the first time I had latched her on since I left the hospital. For two weeks, I went to every support class for breastfeeding. L still had jaundice so we were still supplementing her with formula. I was a wreck. I was tired, overwhelmed and really just a mess. I was so scared of breastfeeding that I would have my husband finger feed L while I pumped. It was a nightmare.
Slowly, her jaundice got better and I became more confident with the feedings. At two weeks, I stopped supplementing her with formula. I was going to breastfeeding support group three times a week. From Friday until Tuesday, I only breast fed her. I was so proud of myself! I felt great, until I got to support group. I let the consultant know that I had stopped supplementing and had only breastfed L for the past four days. Then they weighed her and she had not gained the one ounce per day that they wanted her to. She had only gained 3 oz instead of 4. I was crushed. They recommended adding another feeding into our day. WHAT???? It already took all I had to get her to stay awake for the feedings she already had, how was I going to get one more in?
I went home, defeated, devastated. I was so disappointed in myself. It was about this time that L developed a severe case of reflux. (I refer to it as severe, the upper GI only said it was minor. They were not in charge of feeding a screaming infant!) She would latch, eat for a minute, unlatch throw her head back, arch her body and scream. I had no idea what was going on. When she would do this, I would prepare a bottle because it was easier to feed her that way as I could keep the bottle in her mouth while she squirmed. It was terrible. Several trips to the doctor revealed that it was reflux. I began to pump only and feed her breast milk in a bottle. This lasted an entire week.
At four weeks of age, I had to make a decision. Keep pumping, start to breastfeed again, or pack up the pump and go with formula. I was still feeling so defeated over the entire breastfeeding situation. I packed up the pump and went the formula route. When I called the hospital to let them know that I would be bringing the pump back, Sally answered the phone. She was the first lactation consultant that I dealt with at the hospital. I panicked and lied to her. I told her that I had been given my own pump and would not need the hospital one any longer.
I cried for two months. I was failing my daughter, my husband, our families. How could I have not gotten the hang of breastfeeding? I didn't understand. Surely L would not get into college. She would of course loose IQ points. We would not bond the same way. TERRIBLE THINGS WERE GOING TO HAPPEN! Then I got a grip. Vowed to stop crying, forced myself to look forward and just be okay with my decision. L was thriving. She was growing, gaining weight, making all of the milestones she should. She was fine, better than fine, she was glorious.
The other day, I got an email from my girlfriend that she was beginning to wean her daughter. Without notice, all of my insecurities about not breastfeeding L came flooding back. I cried again as the wounds of my first failure as a mother opened again. I realize how silly it is, I know deep down that L will be just fine. That she will get into college if she chooses that path, that we are bonded as only a mother and daughter can be. I guess sometimes you just can't help crying over spilled milk.
My husband's favorite thing to say to me is "are you done getting high on the baby yet?" No, I am not. Not even close, not even kind of close.
At nine months pregnant, there were days when I wasn't so sure about having a baby, being a parent, changing my life style, my habits, my spending. There were so many unknowns, as there are in every one's transition to parenthood. I felt at times overwhelmed about what I was about to embark on.
When L was born, I loved her, I knew that much, but I was not one of those moms who falls completely in love with their baby the moment they are pulled, kicking and screaming, from your groin. For me, it was a journey. I loved her, I would have thrown my self in front of a bus for her, but, I also had to talk my self out of giving her to some firemen I saw in the grocery store when she was four days old. What was I doing at the grocery store when she was four days old you ask? Picking up my groceries because my husband was in the early stages of PNEUMONIA!
As the time and struggles went on, I felt that maternal love finally kick in. I remember when it happened. L was two months old. I finally felt like I had a handle on this motherhood thing. At least I knew how not to have a meltdown every time something new happened, and I was finally convinced that she would survive being my child, that she was not going to be taken from me. I let my guard down and the love flooded in. I literally felt it running through my veins, the Oxytocin was flowing. (And I was not breastfeeding anymore so for all of you guilt ridden bottle feeders out there, you will still bond with your child!)
When L was three and a half months, postpartum depression kicked in. Even though I was crying again every minute of every day, I still felt the overwhelming love for her. PPD is real and the pain and guilt are unimaginable. Through it all, the love struck obsession, the addiction to my daughter was still there, persevering through it all. That and good medication pulled me out of my PPD in one piece and it has only gotten better by the day.
As the months fly by, the love I feel for this child intensifies beyond anything I can explain. Sitting here, writing this post, I can smell her, hear her little voice babbling, feel her little hands run across my face, even though she is miles away with her nanny. When I get home at the end of the day, I smell her head, give her as many kisses as she will allow and just feel her in my arms. This is what I carry with me every day as I leave for work. This unquestionable love. I am fully aware that she will break my heard a thousand times over my lifetime. I can only hope I will survive.
See how dramatically your life changes with one tiny little baby? I could be blogging about sex or promiscuity among teens, or any of a myriad of other interesting topics. But instead, I am blogging about REFLUX! Yep. At three weeks, just as I had stopped crying every 30 seconds and just as L and I were finally figuring out the whole breastfeeding thing, she begin to scream her head off every time she ate! Good times people. Let me tell ya.
Here's how a feeding session would go. Baby cries, mama gets situated with My Breast Friend nursing pillow, nipple shield, wipe cloths and baby. Baby latches on, takes a drink, and another, unlatches, arches back, throws head in same direction and screams. I had no idea what to do. I re situated myself, latched her back on only to go through the same scenario. I would end up in tears and feeding her a bottle. Sometimes filled with pumped milk and sometimes filled with formula. I didn't know what was going on. Even with the bottle, she would scream but it was easier to get her to eat a bit from the bottle.
This went on for a day or so and I called the doctor for an appointment. They checked her out, weighed her (she was gaining weight), smiled and said, well it may be a little reflux, but she is doing great! We'll see you in a month at her next well baby visit.
I reluctantly left the office only to go home and have the same thing happen. We must have returned to the doctor's three times before they prescribed Zantac. "Okay, here's your prescription. One ting though, it takes a full 7 to 10 days for the medication to start working" she said with a smile. I would be serving 20 to life if I had done what I wanted to do at that time which was rip her face off. The doctor, not the baby!
Home we went and we waited and waited and waited for the medicine to work. Only it never did. The only time she would cease crying was when my husband would come home an feed her while holding her up in a standing position. His hands were just big enough to do this. She would suck down a full bottle in the same time it took me to get her to scream through one ounce of food! I am embarrassed to write down how many FULL bottles I hurled against the wall in frustration. (it was that or the baby, I feel I made the right choice!) I panicked every time I took her into the doctor's office. I feared they would tell me that some babies are just fussy, that this was how she was. But I knew enough to know that was not true. The second she stopped eating, she was smiling, laughing, playing. It all had to do with eating.
Our last resort was Previced. A drug used for extreme cases of reflux. A drug not really tested on babies. A drug that does not dissolve, that you have to learn how to administer through a syringe by mouth. A drug that MY INSURANCE DOES NOT COVER and costs $300 for 30 pills. I finally understood what it would be like to be sick and uninsured.
On the Prevecid, she was better. Eating was tolerable at best, but she was eating, gaining weight and thriving despite my crying, worrying, bottle throwing fits. I knew then that we would make it. Some how, some way my little girl and I would make it.
Let's start at the beginning. I guess it really started about 10 months prior to September. On a cool day in December. We were painting our living room. All of a sudden, I stopped painting.
"Babe, let's do it. I think we should, right now." He turned to me. "Really? Right now? Mid paint? Me: "Yep, I'm ovulating."
I was right. The last time I would be right about anything, or so it seemed, for a long while.
After the perfect pregnancy and the perfect delivery, she arrived.
We'll call her L.
I was 32. I was prepared....or so I thought. Apparently I knew I wasn't really prepared. At one point during my labor I observed that it wasn't the party I thought it would be....out loud. Excuse me? I should have known then that it might take a turn for the worse!
I, well we, stayed in the hospital for an entire 36 hours. If I had it my way, I might still be there.
We brought L home, put her car seat down and stared. I was afraid to vocalize my feelings. I was afraid to be mortally afraid. I didn't get it. I wasn't sure what to do. Where oh where were those maternal instincts? Here she was, that baby I wanted. That baby I predicted was ready to be conceived on that December day. Wrapped in pink, complete with hat, little fingers, little toes, sleeping like an angel and she was completely alien to me.
I spent the first week of her life in tears. Actually the first two weeks. I would call my sister (my childless sister) and tell her how hard it was. "Why is it hard? What is hard about it?" she would ask lovingly. "I don't know, it just is" I would say between sobs. "I will call you right back" she said. Moments later, my sister's best friend, who has a son, called me. My sister had to bring in reinforcements. Nothing she said helped me stop the tears. There was no consoling me. I was a 32 year old "I want a baby sooooooo bad" wreck.
Now, NINE months and some great medication later, I understand. Here was the issue. I brought this baby home with a stack of papers and a 500 page book on new babies. Here is what the papers and book said:
1. Your baby should eat every two hours
2. Your baby will poop several times a day, at least three
3. Your baby will .........
4. Your baby will........
5. Your baby will.........
Okay, great info for a new mother to have right? Not so much. L slept a lot and she didn't eat every two hours. More like three or four and guess what? She would latch on to my boob, eat for a minute or so and FALL BACK ASLEEP!!! She hadn't pooped since we left the hospital, over a week ago. I was panicked. I thought she would die FOR SURE! To top it all off, she was jaundiced. So much so that the doctor almost didn't let us out of the hospital with her. Every time I would take her to the breast feeding support group they would take one look at her and ask me if her doctor knew how yellow she was. YES! I go there every day to make sure she is less yellow than the day before!
All of these questions, all of this uncertainty led to a full on melt down on her one week birthday. It was Saturday. I had been crying all week. She hadn't pooped, was a yellow, sleepy, quiet and content baby and I thought she was moments from death. I kid you not, I prepared myself that she might not make it. I finally called the emergency hot line at L's pediatrician's office. The message I left was almost undecipherable. Moments later, the phone rang and it was the on-call doctor. I was so wound up that speaking was difficult.
"She doesn't eat every two hours. She hasn't pooped since we left the hospital, she falls asleep every time I try to feed her.....SHE'S DYING I KNOW IT!!!" The doctor talked me down from my self made ledge. L was fine, some babies don't eat every two hours. It was okay that she wasn't pooping, some babies only go once per week....for a breast fed baby, this is fine. The one in danger? It was me. My husband got on the phone to tell the doctor that he thought L was fine. I could hear the doctor on the line. "Yes, your daughter is fine. Your wife, however, is not. She is sleep deprived, has zero hormones and is in a completely new situation. And it is all okay. You have to understand how this affects her. You have to support her and realize that this is all very normal". Thank god someone told him this or this blog may be titled "Doing it wrong and alone since 2008"!
So started my sometimes turbulent, full of love and possibly medication, leap into motherhood. Enjoy the ride!