I’m a bad mom…but I’m damn good at it!
“Don’t let your baby sleep on his stomach!”…”Just do what you have to to get him to sleep!”…”Are you back at work already? Take more time to bond!”…”It’s been six weeks, when are you going back to work?”…”Oh, you’re a working mom?”…”Oh, you’re a stay at home mom?”… “So you’ve decided to breastfeed?”…” You’re not breastfeeding?”…
It’s enough to make your head spin and make you doubt yourself on a daily basis. I know I have. My seven-week-old son has been a joy to have. He is goofy and loves to smile at you. He loves nothing more than when he sees it’s time to eat and I’m taking out a boob for him or my husband is making him a bottle. If I am completely honest, becoming a mom has been the hardest transition of my life. Going from doing what I wanted, when I wanted to know that about every two hours I would have to feed my son, that I have another human being that fully depends on me and my husband for its life right now has been difficult, but we are getting the hang of it and our son is thriving.
It seems that no matter what decision I make for my son, there is someone who has something to say about it and it started before he was even born! When my due date was approaching and I was becoming extremely uncomfortable, I told a few close people that I had discussed inducing on my due date with my doctor. I was either met with positive affirmations that if I thought that was best for me and my doctor was okay with it, then it was great. There were also those who lashed back at me, telling me how I would regret it, that my body would decide when it was ready, that I would end up hating my birth experience if I went that route. Everyone seemed to have an opinion on how I was going to give birth, even my doctors! When the topic of pain management came up in an appointment, I told them I wasn’t sure, that I’d see how I felt when I went into labor; I wasn’t ready to commit to an epidural just yet (spoiler alert: I got an epidural). I was told that I was being a martyr and that I didn’t get bonus points for feeling all the pain. It wasn’t about that, though, it was about the fact that if I didn’t feel it was necessary, why would I have a needle stuck into my spine?
Who would I want at the hospital, or who would be told I was in the hospital would also be called into question. A co-worker had decided she had the right to tell the entire office every time I felt a twinge and even told everyone when I went to the hospital because I was having bad contractions that turned out to be false labor. She also decided that she had the right to be one of the first to know when I went into the hospital. Long before I was even thinking about giving birth, I decided that my father would be the only one to know when I was admitted. I didn’t want the pressure or people checking on me every ten seconds. I wanted to lay there and focus on what was happening and have that moment be private between my husband and I. This was, of course, met with criticism about how I would want others there with me, how I wouldn’t care who visited, that it wouldn’t matter. No, it did matter to me. Let’s be real, birth is messy. I was a wreck. I hadn’t showered, I was pretty much topless the whole time with how much my son wanted to eat and don’t even get me started on how many times I had to change the giant pad they gave me with how much blood there was. I didn’t want a parade of visitors while dealing with all that. I wanted that time for my husband and for myself to start our adjustment to parenthood.
Breastfeeding was another giant controversy. After my son was born, a nurse literally ripped my shirt down and started showing my son where my breast was, only after he had latched the first time did she think to ask if I wanted to breastfeed. Of course, I was all for it as it is best for the baby, it helps the mother a lot as well (and let’s be real, it’s free!) but, ask me before you grab my damn boob! Breastfeeding was easy for us. Other than the excruciating pain that comes along with it until you adjust to each other, my son had no problems latching and sucking and when the lactation consultant come in, she was perfectly happy with how we were doing and that was that. About two days after we took our son home, though, the cluster feeding began. For those of you who don’t know, cluster feeding is a baby’s way of upping his mother’s milk supply. It can last for HOURS…my son would be on my breast for six straight hours. My husband would sit up with me at night while this was happening trying to comfort me as I cried and cried from exhaustion and not understanding what was happening. That is when the discussion about a bottle began. at first, I didn’t want to give him one so soon. It was after my first big meltdown that we decided I would pump and my husband would take over one or two feedings at night.
The bottle brought on a whole new round of judgment, so much that I actually changed pediatrician TWICE. I am all for breastfeeding my son, it is a bond that I would not trade for anything in the world. But, when your body is giving out because it’s so exhausting and you’re mentally breaking down because you have to get up every hour and a half, it becomes extremely difficult. Once we told the pediatricians about this, we instantly got the lecture about how being on my breast was best for him and blah blah blah… I am surprised with how sleep deprived I was that I didn’t lash out at them for the judgment. My son was gaining weight like crazy after having dropped over 5% of is birth weight. He was still getting breastmilk, just from a different source and he was still on my breast about 85% of the time. Instead of letting them make me feel worse than I already did, I changed doctors. When the next one did the same thing, adding to the lecture how easy breastfeeding was once you got the hang of it, I again, said, nope, and changed doctors. Our third doctor has been very supportive, he has as baby about the same age as our son and seems to understand more the pressure and stress of breastfeeding and he didn’t even blink an eye when I told him we started giving our son formula a night because it meant he slept for 5+ hours instead of 2 hours.
Guilt has been a big thing for me. Mom guilt is REAL. I felt terrible when I would have breakdowns, I felt defeated when he would cry and I didn’t know what was wrong, I cried the first time he had a bottle and I put off giving him formula to help him sleep longer stretches for an extra three days because of how bad I felt. What I realized, though, there is no reason to feel guilty about it and in the end I realized, that everyone has an opinion on how I should raise my son, how I should feed him, who should watch him, when I should go back to work, if I should go back to work, how many vaccines he should get, what vaccines he should get…that list could go on for DAYS. In the end, I realized that the only people who had any say in how my son was raised were myself and my husband. If we want to give him formula to help sleep, I will, because we function better with more sleep, we are more alert, more attentive and less stressed out and I am a happier mom when I sleep. If I want my husband to take over a few feedings so I can run some errands on my own or get an extra few hours of sleep in, there is nothing wrong with that.
In the end, I came to a conclusion. I am a bad mom, but I am damn good at it.