Before I start, I want to update all on why I haven’t posted in over a week. I was in the hospital with horrible gallbladder pains (I was diagnosed with gallstones years ago) that would not go away. Turns out I had a rogue gallstone making its way to my liver causing me immense, end-of-the-world, worse-than-contractions pain that only narcotics could subdue (not morphine because spoiler alert: I’m allergic to morphine come to find out) and jaundice just like the new babes get, yellow skin and all. So in one day I had surgery to remove my gallbladder (finally! why didn’t I do this sooner??) and then a fun endoscopic procedure to break the stone in my liver duct so it wouldn’t cause my duct and gallbladder to burst inside of me. Yes, that was quite vivid- I have pictures if you want to see. But I’m a mom and I don’t know the true meaning of TMI, so thanks for reliving it with me.
So after four days in the hospital and another four in a zombie-like state in which I was only awake a total of maybe three hours a day, I’m happy to say that I am off the pain meds and living comfortably but restricted at home with my family. I can’t lift anything heavier than 5 pounds for another three weeks without chance of a hernia, so we’re all still getting used to that. Life is so complicated when your child still eats in a high chair, sleeps in a crib, and can’t get into his carseat by himself and YOU CAN’T LIFT HIM! But we’re working through it. So anyways, thanks for the break. I’m grateful for the time to heal on my own without the rush of a day job to return to and family to help with the child. So if you’re still reading, here’s today’s #MotherhoodMonday. As always, see below to follow the other ladies in the link-up. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join us.
So I can’t speak for all mothers out there, but I feel like I make motherhood mistakes every single day. Today I made the mistake of scaring my son because I got onto him big time for something my husband and I have agreed to ignore. This is something I actually have told my husband over and over that we will ignore, ignore, ignore until he’s done and then make him clean up. Eventually he’s bound to get tired of cleaning the rest of his dinner off the floor and he’ll stop throwing it there right?? Well I gave up on my own strategy of ignoring today and flipped out. That sent my son into a tailspin of “ohmygosh Mama is so UGLY when she’s angry!” and “but I thought you LOVED ME!” So yeah, mistake. Maybe not lose my crap on my not-even-two-year-old when he’s acting like, well, a not-even-two-year-old.
Those mistakes are part of motherhood, unless you’re a perfect mother. IN THAT CASE KEEP WALKING. THERE’S NOTHING TO SEE HERE. But seriously I feel like those mistakes aren’t even worth harping on. It’s important to recognize them, but then MOVE THE FRICK ON. AMIRIGHT? I’m a believer in regret, really I am. But not the life-changing regret that seeps into your bones and ruins your existence. Save that stuff for the soaps and learn that having regrets doesn’t mean you hate how life turned out. I have plenty of things I have regretted over the years, and I’m still regretting them. Like where I went to college- you would think after three colleges I would’ve gotten it right. But it is what it is; I wouldn’t change it because too many other great and fantastic parts of my life would change along with it. I’m about to shower you with some real hard truth here: I totally regret the first 3-4 months of my child’s life. WHOA. And here’s why.
I was so excited to be mom. I was ready and prepared. Then it happened. He wouldn’t latch. I saw specialists, had the doc check and recheck for lip and tongue ties, and read everything I could. Why would my child, a perfectly healthy full-term baby, not feed in the most natural way possible?!? So I pumped because “breast is best” and by golly, if he wasn’t going to take it through the boob, he was going to take it another way. I pumped and pumped and pumped, every 2-3 hours around the clock for the first three months of his life. If I couldn’t plan around my pumping schedule, whatever it was didn’t get done. I pumped in the car. I pumped in restaurant, store, and church bathrooms. I pumped while driving! Then I went back to work and was allowed two pump breaks a day for 15 minutes when I was used to 30 minute pumping sessions. My 300 ounce stash was dwindling, and I saw my one year goal of breastfeeding falling away. So I freaked. I started obsessively counting ounces and shamefully limiting what he was allowed to eat while I was gone, not accounting for difficult transtions and growth spurts. I was keeping it healthy, but not ever allowing extras for on-demand feeding. In fact the whole four months I exclusively breastfed, I was obsessive about it. Have you ever spent four months of your life never sleeping longer than three hours at a time? I mean honestly, he was sleeping for 8-10 hours at 8-weeks (sorry, but it’s true), but here I was still setting an alarm for three hours so I could get up and pump. Let’s not even talk about the time hell opened up when I spilt a bag of milk. Like, I was a crazy person.
Baby? What baby? He was a machine that needed milk to survive and I was the only, sole provider of that milk. Nothing else was good enough to keep him alive but the very milk filled with my stress and sorrows. And that was the attitude I had for the first four months of his life. There was no bonding happening because I was not there for pesonal and emotional well-being; I was there to provide nourishment and that was it. These were my own pressures. No one put these pressures on me besides myself…and maybe mean moms on Internet mommy boards. No doctor was telling me my child would suffer horribly without my breastmilk. My husband was ready for his normal, non-crazed wife back, so he wasn’t pressuring me to do anything I was overwhelmed with. It was all me and my own standards.
So I stopped pumping and suffering through lame attempts to breastfeed on Christmas eve when my son was 4.5 months old. One day it just hit me that this was a horrible day to live, and my attempts to get through this for his first year would be futile. I would have to go with the flow of how this was going to go. So I stopped. I wanted to burn, bury, or smash the breast pump, but I kept it because next baby. But honestly I’m here to proudly stand up and say I don’t know if I will even try to breastfeed the next child(ren) because the pressure of it ruined my life for 4 months. It stole the first four months of my child’s life from me. I can actually look back at the time I quit breastfeeding and pumping, and I see where the shift happened. I can see when I started to actually bond with my child as if he was a human being instead of machine sucking me dry (pun intended). As a mother, when you can actually remember that visible shift in life like that, it’s super hard to wrap your mind and heart around why you lived in that bubble of stress and anxiety for so long.
I don’t regret breastfeeding, and I definitely don’t regret quitting. But I do regret the time I spent letting it overwhelm me to tears, frustration, and anger. I regret letting my son become the manifest for all my own pressures of not being good enough. I regret listening to so much of the same “breast is best” and “here’s what your child is definitely lacking by not drinking breastmilk for the first two years of his life.” That may all be scientifically true because I don’t tend to doubt science (ask me where I stand on vaccinations), but what Mama feels matters too. What Mama is able to safely and sanely provide her children factors into what is best for the child also. I could have done more harm to my child by continuing that cycle of bitterness for an entire year than nutritional and biological good.
This mistake early in my motherhood shaped my outlook on this whole parenting thing. Babywearing? Eh, my son hated it so I haven’t subscribed to that club yet. Baby-led weaning? We had a bad experience. Co-sleeping? Are you kidding? I’m such a light sleeper. Plus my son has slept so well in his own room since he was two months old. Why fix what’s not broken? First birthday party? Life happened, party didn’t, so why dwell?
I haven’t done a lot of typical mom things, but I’m totally okay with that. I seriously feel like I should not and cannot put unwarranted pressure on myself. So until my son asks for it, begs for it, or seriously needs it, I don’t even want to talk about it. This includes all Halloween costumes, birthday parties, and overpriced baby things.
So to all moms, especially new moms, DO NOT become entagled in the same web of expectations and outside worldly pressures that I did for my son’s first four months. Sure, we all turned out okay. But don’t think I don’t run that regret through my head all the time. I want those four months back. I cringe every time I remember crying into my husband’s shirt over how I never want a newborn again. The newborn asleep in the other room wasn’t the problem. I was the problem and the overbearing pressures I had put on myself were the problems. That’s my motherhood mistake.
- Being home with my family
- My brilliant husband for rescuing me
- Having a bed in the guest room finally