my mommy guilt started the night bella was born. i let the nurses take her into the nursery. that's right, scold me now. i didn't spend every moment of that first precious day with that little, bitty baby. i chose to eat my big bacon classic, with large fries and a dr. pepper from wendy's (oh the calories!!!!). mostly because i hadn't eaten in 48 hours. or maybe it was that i threw up 36oz's of fluid while delivering. or MAYBE, and most likely, it was that i just pushed out an almost 9 pound baby!
the next night didn't get much better. bella decided she didn't want to eat for almost 9 hours, and the nursery nurse ever so impolitely informed me that "if she goes to sleep, she will NEVER wake up". really, night nurse from you know where? i guess no one has ever told her that many babies don't eat much in the first 24 hours. she gave me a good lashing that night, guilting me into.....well.....i'm not really sure what her aim was. she wanted to give my baby formula, she wanted to make me cry, and maybe she wanted me to feel like a terrible mother. well, i hope it made her feel better that i, after having no sleep and being incredibly sore, sobbed loudly until my nurse came in to comfort me. of course it was at 4 am, so everyone was home sleeping, and i was all by myself. but i came out victoriously-my baby ate, not formula i might add, and guess what!? she is still going to sleep and waking up just fine, thankyouverymuch. but, i digress.
back to mommy guilt. it seems that every decision new mommies make (or don't make) leaves us plagued with guilt. breastfeed or formula feed. cloth diaper or use disposables. and what's this about crying it out? did i clean that toy well enough? am i using the right bottles? but my baby sleeps BETTER on her tummy! some of these issues obviously are more serious and controversial than others, but they all are along the same idea. i make a decision that is best for my situation. there are different ways of thinking based on when YOU were born, or when your KIDS were born, and most importantly, whether or not you even have children. but for some reason, it seems someone always wants to make you feel like you are doing something wrong.
i felt like i was immune to this at first-i chose to breastfeed, cloth diaper, make bella's baby food (when i introduce them at 6months, no less) and feed her an organic diet with no sweets until she is one, and then very sparingly afterwards. i use sunscreen, bath products and lotions from all natural products, and ever bought her dolls made from organic cotton. i thought, i am doing nothing wrong, how could i feel any guilt? but then i felt bad that she didn't like joel (at first, now she is a daddy's girl. of course), that i didn't spend enough time with duke, that i slept on the couch for the first 6 weeks (i didn't want to disturb joel, since he was working, but that also meant he felt neglected).
and then, i felt bad that i chose to sleep with bella. (i need to say, i took every precaution while she slept with me, and studied it like it was my job). but it seems everyone wants to know how you are sleeping, constantly. "great!!" i say. "bella sleeps through the night! goes to sleep at 7:30 and wakes up at 4:30, then goes back to sleep until 8!", "wow! how do you do it? is she sleeping in her crib?" everyone would inevitably ask. "no, actually. she sleeps with me." [insert eye roll here] and then it starts....."don't you know the dangers?!" "she will sleep in your bed forever!!" "why would you do that!?" and of course, i began to feel very defensive about it. i had done my research. i KNEW that there were actually no increased dangers (i don't smoke, drink or do drugs, which are the factors that lead to parents rolling on their child. and we slept without blankets), and i also knew that by doing this, we both slept better and bonded even more. i realized that i would cringe when people would ask me about her sleeping. so i folded to the pressure.
i put her in her crib at 14 weeks. she hardly slept. i knew transitions took time, so the next night, back to the crib. still, she woke up every hour. this continued for the next 3 weeks. i got no sleep, she got no sleep, joel got no sleep. "how is this better?" i would ask myself every night. but i kept it up, because "it's what's best". i wish i could say that she is starting to sleep through the night again, but the reality is, the best sleep we all get is at 2 or 3 in the morning when i bring her in to bed to feed her and i fall asleep. and she falls asleep. and joel stays asleep. and i wake up 2 hours later, to find that my little bundle is still sleeping so soundly. i sneak her back into her crib and an hour later......well. you know where i'm going with this. as a matter of fact, she is still laying her beside me, playing with my leg, at 9:00, because she refuses to go to sleep.
i will continue to punish myself this way, until she finally gets it and sleeps all night long. that night, i will celebrate. but tonight, i sit here. feeling the guilt that comes with being a mommy. the guilt that i allow other people to put on me. that i allow myself to feel.