Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Oh My. Mommy Guilt. WTH, self?

We’ve all heard the term “mommy guilt”. It usually refers to feeling bad about our mothering choices, right? Whether it’s the sadness of leaving the children to go to work or wondering whether we’ve prepared them well for school to whether we are taking good enough care of them, there always seems to be little layers of mommy guilt here and there. Yet, it almost is mentioned in a playful sort of way – like a little tug of the heartstrings that we can all relate to and get a chuckle out of.
I consider myself a pretty tough gal. I never thought I let mommy guilt bother me much, but gosh, you guys, I just have to share this with you! I was just freed of a mommy guilt I didn’t even know I had held onto so long. And it was in there deep, ladies, I mean – really, mega, entrenched in the soul deep. And now its gone! And it all happened because my dear husband took my 3rd son to the doctor. But let me give you some background first…
In 2008, my sweet third baby was induced early because they feared I had pre-eclampsia. It was a brutal labor with Pitocin and extremely long. When he was born, I only got to see him for a minute and then he was whisked away to the NICU because his lungs were having trouble transitioning. I was in a whirlwind of confusion. In the recovery room I passed massive blood clots (size of footballs – insane – the bathroom looked like a warzone), I called for the nurse. She came in all annoyed that I was bugging her, but her mood quickly changed when she saw all. the. blood. She got to work and I got even more pitocin. I was NOT a happy camper. I’m pretty sure I cried through that entire next hour.
In the midst of the blood drama – I get a call from a NICU nurse berating me for not pumping well enough and not coming to see my child. I felt so awful. My husband had gone back home to check with the sitter and the other children. No one had come in to offer to wheel me over there. No one had even offered me consolation on what was happening to him there. And yet, she goes on and on reprimanding me. Well, they did then get me over to him and we had our time together and soon he was well enough to come home with me.
Then the pediatric doctor said I wasn’t nursing him right because he wasn’t gaining enough weight (he was only 1 week old at this point) and I needed to nurse him better. Nice. That always helps a worried new mama – judgment.
He started to gain, but we had such difficulty nursing. And he seemed never very interested. I had this feeling then that he did not need me or did not want me – I knew it was silly, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had let him down at birth and created a distanced feeling between us. I pumped a little for my working hours, but after three months I let my husband feed him a bottle of formula milk when I wasn’t there. I was so stressed about his older brother’s illness too that the pumping just wasn’t happening. He later became my only child who actually weaned himself and at nine months (all my others nursed at least a year). And I connected it all back to not being there for him when he was in NICU. And then, even though so many people said it wasn’t my fault, I guess I just ignored the feeling and it settled down, deep down in my heart.
Back to my husband taking this now 6 year old to the doctor. He went in for an ear ache but asked about his tongue. He weirdly couldn’t lick his lips and we didn’t know if it was neurological or physical or what.
As it turns out, he is “tongue tied” and we just never knew it. Now, when the pediatrician asked my husband if there was any trouble nursing him, he said not, not that he remembered, but – ah – I remember.
I was in my bedroom when my husband was filling me in on the phone. It should have been diagnosed right away by the baby’s pediatrician, but never was. It can cause much difficulty in nursing and most doctors can easily snip it when the baby is a newborn.
As he was talking all those memories came rushing back with a vengeance and rewriting themselves, letting me see it all in a different light. I wasn’t a bad mother! I wasn't neglecting him by nursing incorrectly! I hadn’t created some cosmic rift between us because I didn’t rush down to the NICU. He just physically couldn’t nurse without extreme effort – so that’s why he never seemed interested. It was too dang hard.
I startled my self (and my poor husband) by sobbing uncontrollably as I held the phone. But those tears were good, cleansing tears. Releasing six years of compounded mommy guilt. Just. letting. it. all. go…
Sheesh! How silly I am!

all my boys. #3 is second from the right. :-) Happy as can be!