Category: Newborns

Mother Guilt

In the past two months, I’ve really been initiated into the cult of Mother Guilt.  You know, all those things that you do or don’t do as a mother that you’re told you should feel guilty for doing or not doing.  Or just the things that cause you to feel guilty for no apparent reason.  It’s total crap, but it’s very real.

I’ve discovered that I have a skewed sense of Mother Guilt.  I don’t feel guilty for doing or not doing most of the common things.  Instead, I feel guilty that I don’t feel guilty.  I think it’s my repressed Catholic side coming out.  😀

For example, breastfeeding.  I’ve been having tons of trouble breastfeeding, keeping my supply up, so we started supplementing with formula and pumping/bottle-feeding rather than directly breastfeeding.  I didn’t feel guilty about that, not really.  What got me feeling horrible was that I hadn’t enjoyed breastfeeding, had started resenting the time and the discomfort (pain sometimes, because the Munchkin never really got his latch quite right and would jerk a lot from all the gas — little guy just about took off my nipples on more than one occasion!), and was secretly glad to be hooked up to a machine than to my child.  Which sounds horrible but I have to admit is true.  Hence the Mother Guilt.  After all, La Leche League calls it the “Womanly Art of Breastfeeding,” so I should be rejoicing about my opportunity to practice this most feminine of tasks, or something like that, not feeling resentful.  😦

Another parenting decision that tends to set off Mother Guilt: babysitters and leaving the Munchkin for an extended period of time.  Before this week, the only person who had kept the Munchkin for any period of time was my mother, and she’s been helping out since he was about three or four weeks old, when I was about to break down from being alone with him nearly 24/7 (which was another source of Mother Guilt, although I don’t think I had backwards Mother Guilt there).  She even kept him overnight when he was about five weeks to allow us to get some serious sleep.  As I was on the way out the door, thinking longingly of our bed, mom was telling me about how hard she cried the first time she left me overnight, and I realized that that sort of reaction was expected from me.  Only I couldn’t summon it because I was so exhausted and overwhelmed and because I had realized that leaving him with her was actually one of the best things I could do for him — he needed parents who weren’t on the verge of melting down or falling asleep — so I felt guilty that I didn’t feel guilty.

(Holy run-on paragraphs, Batman!)

I suppose at least I cried Monday when I had to take him to day care for the first time.  Everyone talks about how hard that is, and how much they wish they could stay home.  It’s expected that a mother feel guilty that she, for whatever reason, can’t be the primary caregiver in the home.  Even if she’s the primary breadwinner instead.  That’s solid Mother Guilt, right?

Why are there so many things that mothers culturally seem to be expected to feel guilty about if they can’t provide or do?  People don’t expect dads to feel badly about sending their children to day care instead of staying home with them.  And they seem to dote on dads who help with middle-of-the-night feedings as though doing so were some major miracle instead of, I don’t know, parenting (I know that it’s not always practical for dads to help with this, but the massive mountains of praise heaped on dads who can and do).

I just don’t get it, but I do refuse to feel guilty over these things anymore.  Is the Munchkin healthy?  Is he developing normally?  Is he happy?  If the answers to these questions are yeses, then I’m doing fine, damnit.

Oh, also, the comments about how I don’t look like I had a baby.  Is it expected that new moms never shed that extra weight in less than months or years?  I can’t even tell you how many women I’ve had say something like that, and not always in the friendliest fashion.  So then I’m reduced to pointing out that not eating and not sleeping for three weeks, combined with eleven weeks of all-day morning sickness, go a long way toward shedding what weight I did gain, just not in any sort of doctor-approved manner, much less an enjoyable one.  *sighs*


Let’s just post-date this back to nine day ago, since that’s when I started writing it and promptly got derailed by a gassy baby or something:

It appears that my leave is coming to a close, and I’m getting ready to start weaning myself back into the work environment.  That definitely throws a new kink in the works of adjusting to being a new parent and coping with a fussy baby.  So, in preparation (and to hopefully help with the fussiness), we’re trying something new: supplementing with formula.

Breastfeeding has been something of a bust for me.  I know that it’s supposed to be this awesome bonding experience between mom and baby, but it’s been more of an exercise in futility and frustration.  The Munchkin could try feeding for over an hour and not get enough to keep him from being hungry.  I can pump for half an hour and barely get enough for his bottle.  I can barely keep caught up, much less get ahead.  End result?  Sore nipples and frustration all around.

On top of that, he’s been extremely gassy, to the point of being in discomfort and sometimes pain for hours on end.  This is apparently my fault, as in something I’ve been eating.  So, I’m cutting out dairy products to see if he’s lactose intolerant.  Farewell, milk on my cereal.  Goodbye, hot chocolate.  And stop teasing me, brand-new carton of Breyer’s mint Oreo ice cream in my freezer!

Five weeks in

Well, the Munchkin turned five weeks old yesterday.  I almost can’t believe it — I feel as though I’ve missed a lot in the last five weeks simply from lack of sleep, and that makes me sad.

What makes me sadder is knowing that I’ll have to go back to work at least part time in just a couple of weeks.  What else am I going to miss while I’m at the office every day?  (Aside from the tantrums when I’m not holding him the way he wants me to, anyway.)

These five weeks definitely haven’t been without their challenges, though, and I’m not sure I’d go through them again for all the money in the world.  With the shop opening, Southern Honey has barely been home at all, and when he has been, it’s mostly been to sleep.  That’s left me picking up the slack with the Munchkin, all the time.  And the poor Munchkin has been dealing with some hideous gas issues that have left him crying for hours on end (there was one night where he screamed for six hours in an eight-hour stretch).  If it weren’t for my mom alternately babysitting him and letting the two of us stay at her house on nights when Southern Honey worked third shift, I would have gone completely around the bend, and that’s not hyperbole.  I don’t know how single moms do it!

The Munchkin’s current thing, now that his weekend bout with gas, probably brought on by the formula my mom gave him on Saturday, is over, is refusing to be put down unless he’s asleep.  Seriously, if I go to set him in his vibrating bouncy thing at the wrong moment, it’s meltdown city.  And you can forget about the Boppy.  Or the crib.  Or the play yard.  If it’s not close to body heat, he doesn’t want anything to do with it most of the time.

This includes going to sleep and staying asleep, too.  I’m only able to type this because he finally fell asleep deeply enough for me to put him down without waking him.  And I just realized I put him down on top of my breast pump tubes, so I’m going to have my work cut out for me trying to get to them so I can pump while he’s out.

Breastfeeding definitely complicated things.  I had to start pumping early on to stimulate my supply and to start stocking up.  When he was eating every two hours and I was by myself, this basically meant I was hooked up via the boob to something just about all the time.  I barely ate or slept, and it took me less than two weeks to find myself back down below my weight when I got pregnant, only not in a good way.

Now he’s eating about every three hours during the day and every four or more (!) at night on good nights, and I’m exclusively pumping — he wasn’t getting enough even during hour-long breastfeeding sessions going back and forth between breasts, and it had the added bonus of making him gassy as all get-out.  So I’m hooked up to something quite a bit, but it’s not as bad as it was before.  Although it is harder to pump when I’m here by myself with him.  At night, Southern Honey feeds him while I pump out the next meal, and we manage to get back to bed quite a bit quicker as long as the Munchkin is ready to go back to sleep (he was not after his 7:45 feeding this morning).

Despite all that, I wouldn’t trade him for the world.  Ask me again next week after our road trip for my little brother’s graduation, though.  My opinion may have changed.  *laughs*


That one word pretty much sums up the past two weeks.  Well, that and “single parenting,” now that the shop is open.  I’ll be so glad when Southern Honey is off his night shifts at the mall so he’ll get more sleep and be home to help at night — I’m still going to be by myself during the day, but going 48 hours solo right now is just not working when Southern Munchkin is willing and able to scream for three hours at a stretch, pause to eat, and then go for another three hours.

It’s not all bad, though.  Just tiring.  I mean, he’s sleeping quite a bit at night when the gas isn’t really bad — he’s capable of going four to four and a half hours between feedings for three or more feedings when he’s really tired out (after, say, a day of screaming).  That can mean three hours of sleep at a stretch for me if I can get him fed, burped, changed, and back to sleep within an hour.  Usually it’s more like two hours of sleep for me if I’m lucky, though, with three hours between feedings.

We did manage to get to the mall today.  I was impressed.  We’re paying for it now, though, since he won’t settle down now without being asleep.

He’s here!

At last, after nine months of growing anticipation, Southern Munchkin has made his debut:

Mandatory gross picture

"Wow, that's really ... gross ... I mean ... cute."

Sebastian Alexander, 7 pounds 12.5 ounces, and 19.5 inches.

Can I just say that I think going in for that may have been one of the scariest things I have ever done?  I had a lot of time to sit there in the hospital bed by myself pondering how much everything was going to hurt before the epidural would be administered.  And that is never a good idea.

Also, it hurt a lot more than I thought it would.  😛

Get ... on ... there ...

Is there anything more difficult than keeping a hat on a newborn? Aside from keeping mitts or socks on their hand, I mean.

Anyway, long story short (because apparently I have swiss cheese memory of Tuesday morning and what I do remember is mostly boring), best laid plans notwithstanding, Southern Munchkin joined the world at 11:14 am Tuesday morning in the same inimitable fashion he’s done everything else this pregnancy.  I went in to be induced at 6 am, with plans of an epidural and a day of boredom.  About the time I requested said epidural, I had two hard, nasty contractions that pushed me from 3 cm dilated to 6 cm dilated.  And about the time the anesthesiologist showed up, I had two more with a strong urge to push and was at 9 cm, thereby torpedoing any thoughts of pain relief.

Somewhere around twenty minutes and one heck of a rush by my doc to get from one end of the hospital to the other, he made his debut.

My poor parents, who both showed up fairly early in the day for some serious in-room awkwardness (I was really proud of them, ultimately, since this is really only the second time they’ve been in the same place at the same time since their divorce was finalized, and I know it was not the easiest thing ever), stepped out for the epidural and ended up stuck in the waiting room with no idea what was going on for quite a while.  Southern Honey and I had about an hour with the Munchkin doing skin-to-skin and just getting to know him after he was born and before he was taken out to the nursery, and we hadn’t had a chance to let them know we were planning on doing so.  Thank goodness for camera phones and text messages…

I am displeased.

"Get me outta here!"

While I might give the Munchkin a hard time about being completely impatient to join the world, leaving me with some incredible hemorrhoids and stitches from an episiotomy (if you’re not sure what that is, I recommend not googling for images; let’s just go with it involves a scalpel and makes enough room for the baby’s head to emerge if you don’t have it), he had a good reason.  Most likely during those first two hard contractions — his heartrate abruptly decelerated and they gave me oxygen to bring it back up — the umbilical cord got wrapped around his neck. Fortunately, I think, I didn’t really realize it until after they had taken him out to the nursery and nobody else was in the room with me.  That was when the reaction set in and I had a moment where I just about lost it.

Given the choice between what I went through and the idea of having to have an emergency C-section instead, with the accompanying emotional uncertainty and stress, I think I prefer no epidural and an extremely fast labor.  Don’t get me wrong, it hurt like a mothertrucker and was not what I had planned, it was probably the best thing that could have happened in the end.

Huh, this became way more of a long story than I had planned…

We’re home now, getting settled back in and trying to acclimate to the idea of having a third person living with us.  One who apparently has his days and nights mixed up, might I add.  I should probably be napping right now while he’s asleep, but I’m waiting for Southern Honey to get home from a trip to the shop.

Less displeased and more exhausted.

See what I mean? Sock but no hat -- and I think he had already ditched the sock on his other hand.