Friday, December 6, 2013

I want to talk about Mom Guilt.

Ok, so, this update isn't a style file or really a update on the girls. In the middle of all my 45minute nursing sessions, I've had time to reflect a little bit about mommy guilt. I've spent a lot of time feeling guilty/sad/depressed over things that are not within my realm of control. Of course it doesn't help that  before this week, the girls would pretty much be awake and crying with very little awake and happy time-- unless they were nursing of course. That was very trying and made me question everything. It got even worse when they would be fussy ALL DAY and then get even worse in the evening. Needless to say... I am so glad that this week they've been MUCH happier. It makes me be more confident as a mom that my babies are awake and happy. Oh, and that I was able to put Eleanor in the swing and Amelia in the bouncer and they STAYED NAPPING. That is a huge victory. Basically for the last 11 weeks I've had a baby on me at all times. That in and of itself is exhausting.

All of that fussy time made it impossible to do things like tummy time or other play time to work on some of their developmental skills. We had a pediatrician appointment yesterday for their "2 month" check up (never mind that it's actually closer to three months. Oops), and I had to fill out this HUGE questionnaire about how they're developing and I was very generous in my assessment of them and they still scored in the "grey area" in some areas. My babies don't really recognize me as their mom, Eleanor doesn't push her head up during tummy time, they only sometimes follow a toy with their eyes but will usually follow it with their heads, among other things. That's when mommy guilt kicked in. "I should have been doing x,y, and z differently because now my babies are BEHIND!" I spent some time sad about that but then realized a couple of things. 1.) They were premature. 2.) I was in survival mode. I can't do tummy time or help work on skills when we're still working on not crying if you're awake 3.) there is an obsession in the medical arena with making sure your babies develop at a certain rate, gain weight at a certain weight, etc. It's silly.

Also, at the appointment she freaked out about Amelia's weight gain and was "very concerned" about it-- but she was only looking at one piece of the puzzle. In six weeks she only put on 300ish grams which is not a lot, admittedly and definitely not following the WHO curve. BUT. I was aware of it. For two or so weeks I just let it go to see if she would start gaining, when she didn't I called in a lactation consultant to help and for a week tried a couple things to see if she would gain. When she didn't gain in that time I began supplementing her. For the first week of the supplement she put on four ozs in a week-- on target for the low end of normal. She did that for a while. Then this past week her gain kind of exploded and she put on four ozs in three or so days. The supplement is working and I'm comfortable at the rate she's gaining now. In fact-- in a month's time she's put on a pound. When I said that first, the doctor kind of brushed it off and continued to try to scare me into feeding her more formula. Here's the thing, I know why they freak out about this stuff. There are situations of neglect they have to keep track of, slow weight gain can be indicative of a medical problem, whatever. I am aware of the situation, though, and addressing it. She finally got talked down after I explained to her that in basically three weeks she put on 11ozs. In fact, from yesterday to this morning she put on 1.5ozs! Eleanor isn't quite where she wanted either, but I told her I just started supplementing her too and she's been doing fine ever since.

So back to this mommy guilt stuff. I felt guilty for having to give the girls a very small amount of formula-- they're each only getting 2ozs total per day. That's 1oz supplement after the last two feedings of the day before bed. Not a big deal at all. The guilt voice in my head, though, screamed that I SHOULD BE ABLE TO EXCLUSIVELY BREASTFEED! IT HAS TO BE ALL OR NOTHING! Then I felt guilty for NOT supplementing sooner and possibly contributing to the developmental stuff. Then I felt guilty for this little diaper rash, or the fact that I only get a chance to bathe them once a week, or this or that.

When I got home I decided that it's all silly. The developmental stuff is just what it is. We need to expect that they'll be a little behind because they were essentially four weeks early-- there is a reason babies need that 40 weeks inside! They are beautiful and I can already tell they're very smart girls and  they will catch up. The doctor wasn't actually concerned about this at all. Didn't even bring it up, so why was I feeling guilty about it? The weight stuff is silly because babies grow at their own rate. The weight gain is only one piece of the puzzle-- they are growing just fine in length and all of that. They have plenty of pee and poop diapers so they're NOT malnourished or dehydrated.

Basically, I've decided a couple of things. First, in regard to the weight gain obsession. It isn't my fault at all and I just need to do what is best to make my babies grow. I have done what I feel is best every single step of the way and that's all I can do. I have made informed decisions based on (real) research about breastfeeding and weight gain so I have no problem doing what I'm doing and not increasing their supplemental formula just yet. Regardless of how the numbers look right this second, I am comfortable with where both of the girls are. I have not done anything wrong in trying to make exclusively breastfeeding work, nor am I doing anything wrong in feeding them formula. Even if I chose to fully formula feed, that is no reason to be guilty.

Second, mom guilt is going to be a constant until...well forever I would imagine. I can't let it run my life because it's not correct thinking. If I am doing my best and doing what is best for the babies I have no reason to be guilty for any reason. So, moving forward I am trying very hard to not allow faulty thinking in regard to my mothering to drive me to feel upset, depressed, sad, or to make uninformed decisions. It isn't easy, especially in the midst of sleep deprivation, but once I decided that mom guilt is has seemed much brighter. Especially because these moments happen:


Bekah Turner said...

Very wise and powerful! Love that you're thinking through this and are stronger for it. May God continue to give you clarity!

Debbie said...

After 26 years of running a daycare I seen every parent have guilt over so many decisions they made. But those child progress reports after Dr visits were the worse. Working parents always panicked they were not doing enough to help their child. Your girls are beautiful and will develop perfectly in their own time! Glad you figured out not to waste your time feeling Mom guilt.
So enjoy seeing your posts!