Wednesday, October 13, 2010

a case of mommy guilt

The definition of guilt according to Merriam Webster dictionary:

Definition of GUILT

: the fact of having committed a breach of conduct especially violating law and involving a penalty; broadly :guilty conduct
a : the state of one who has committed an offense especially consciouslyb : feelings of culpability especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy
: a feeling of culpability for offenses

A little back story:
When O was first born, my breast milk took a very long time to come in.  Probably close to 5 days or so.  Once it finally came in, I wasn't concerned.  I just figured it was delayed due to my cesarean section and the medication I was on.

 As the days continued into weeks, I thought we were doing well.  O was sleeping a lot, rarely cried, and seemed satisfied.  The only issue we had was that she tended to sleep through feedings.

Somewhere around the 14 day mark, we started to notice there was a problem.  I ended up with mastitis, and O started to cry- inconsolably.  We figured out, after we took O in for a weight check, that she was not getting enough milk.  That was the first day I pumped.  I pumped all the next day and only got 1/4 of an ounce.  Both sides.  All day.  We had to start with formula supplements immediately.

It was clear that something with our breastfeeding relationship was skewed.  This was probably my first taste of true mommy guilt.  I thought we were on the right tract, when we were clearly not.  As time progressed, we, with the help of lots and lots of prayers and wonderful lactation consultants, figured out that O didn't have a strong enough suck to get breast milk out.  I pumped exclusively until she was finally strong enough to nurse on her own (around 3.5 months of age.)

Fast forward to when O was 8 months old. I had just found out I was, unexpectedly, pregnant with A.  Everything I had read on the topic of tandem nursing said that a lot of women can continue breastfeeding with out any effects on milk supply.  I, mistakenly, thought I was one of those people.  I figured if my body let me get pregnant, it would be capable of still supporting my milk supply.  It wasn't until O started eating every hour that I started to realize that, maybe, she was hungry because my body wasn't producing enough milk.  Again. We had to start on formula.

I can't begin to tell you how bad I felt that I had gotten pregnant and taken that precious milk away from my daughter.  (though, we did continue breastfeeding, just more for comfort and not for nutrition.)  I felt so horrible.

So what does this have to do with the price of beans?  Well, I'm experiencing a case of some serious mommy guilt again.   I have read a lot of articles and studies that say that exclusively breastfeeding for the first year reduces the risk of asthma and incidents of wheezing.  O has just been diagnosed with Reactive Airway Disease because of a scary incident of wheezing and coughing two nights ago.

Of course, my weird and twisted mind starts thinking what I did to cause this or what I could've done to prevent it.  I immediately jump to the fact that she had formula for several months during her first year of life.

If you know me in real life, you probably know how pro-breastfeeding I am.  I'm very pro-breastfeeding because of all of the stuff we went through with O to get her breast milk.  I'm very pro-breastfeeding because I believe what the studies say about how it keeps kids healthier.  I'm very pro-breastfeeding because I think its superior to formula in lots of ways.

However, I know, with out a doubt, that we HAD to give O formula.  We had no alternatives at the time.  Formula was life-saving for miss O.  She had to eat, and she had to eat something with the ability to have lots and lots of calories.

So, why is it that I feel guilty, all of these years later?  Its mommy guilt.  The " feeling of culpability especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy".  Ha!  How often I am reminded that my personality defects stem from a sense of inadequacy.

How about you?  Ever experience a case of totally inappropriate mommy guilt?  


The Workman Family said...

You know this already, but yes, I do. Inadequacy and Guilt might as well be my middle names. lol

And you know this too, but don't blame yourself for O's illness. ((hug))

Katie said...

I resonate with the beginning of your early story. I went out and rented the super-sensitive scale to weigh my daughter after every nursing to see how much she ate and then gave her enough formula to make up for how much she was supposed to be taking in. Ah how I (not fondly) remember blearily weighing her at 3 a.m. and then making .75 oz of formula!
Please don't blame yourself for the illness!

Stacey said...

You know I struggle with Mommy Guilt; have had many episodes of it over multiple things. L had major latch issues for the first couple months. I had the same issue with milk coming in and getting mastitis two weeks after L was born. I've also had to start doing some formula after I've nursed for her bedtime feeding so she'll get enough for the night. And of course, the whole allergy thing; I've been slowly "poisoning" my baby and causing her eczema and tummy issues. Oh yeah, and because of MY asthma she'll likely have life-long skin issues and potentially have asthma herself. The devil certainly knows my weaknesses and often blinds me from trusting God like I should in all these instances. BUT you do whatever you can for your baby; you do what is BEST for your baby and that's what O needed at the time. Proverbs 3:5,6. Love ya!

Mommy Daisy said...

I had similar breastfeeding issues with my son...very similar. Probably was I tried everything...everything with the help of doctors, pediatricians, and lactation consultants, but my supply wouldn't increase. Unfortunately at about 4 months old, my son flat out refused to bf. We were already supplementing with formula at each session. I threw in the towel then. I couldn't fit him every few hours for him to get almost nothing from me.

Anyway, I had guilt about this for the longest time. I think this is the biggest reason I long for another baby. I can't wait to breastfeed and have it go right! It took a long time, but I finally learned to forgive myself and let it go. It was what it was & it was part of my life for a reason.

Don't beat yourself up!