Mummy guilt (and PND)

Mummy guilt is something that I think most of us probably suffer from, for one reason or another. I know I have, with both of my boys throughout the last couple of years (and many more to come, I’m sure!).

One of the first times I suffered – badly – was with my breastfeeding guilt after I failed with J. This partly led to my suffering from postnatal depression. Breastfeeding guilt is a horrible thing to feel, as everywhere you look you are reminded, of how you couldn’t/didn’t provide the best for your baby. I felt like I was being judged, by everyone – the PND made this 100x worse. Even if you feel you made the correct decision, it still creeps in. With J I now know I didn’t make that best decision, which is why I was more determined this time. This time I have suffered, but not nearly as much as I did with J, because this time I know I tried the hardest that I could. This time I am feeling more envy than guilt, which I will write about in a later post.

Giving birth to N and these few first months, I have felt so much love for him and just wanted to be with him all of the time, and he still hasn’t had a night away from me like J did. I haven’t written this before so I am opening up a little more now, but with J – due to the PND – I just didn’t feel that and now I feel so guilty for him because he missed out on so much of my love, affection & attention. At every opportunity offered I would just ‘palm’ him off on someone else. He didn’t deserve that. He was just an innocent child, a child that just wanted, needed, to be unconditionally loved. Gosh, deep down I did love him, but it just wasn’t there, on the surface. And now I’m feeling almighty guilt.

Now I obviously have to split my attention between the two and it’s only just in the last year or so that J has gotten my attention all to himself, and for that I feel guilty as my full attention has disappeared for him again. N will know no different, as he will from the beginning of his life, have had to share it. Don’t get me wrong, I do have one on one time with J now, he needs it. He has always been a child that needs lots of attention, and I often wonder if that’s because I didn’t give it to him for his first few months?

But, they will never know my guilt, unless one day they choose to read my blog. The joy of innocence. I just hope that they both grow up knowing I have always loved them, and always will. That it’s those evil hormones of depression that have made me feel this way, and not them.

They are both innocent.

I am guilty.

Where in your motherhood journey have you experienced Mummy guilt?

Breastfeeding envy

As my regular readers will know, I suffered terribly with breastfeeding guilt after not managing to feed J. Though I only managed to feed N for a few weeks and it was quite upsetting for me to stop even though it was my decision, I haven’t suffered with it half as much. One thing I have suffered with though, is breastfeeding envy.

  1. Envy
  2. Envy is an emotion which “occurs when a person lacks another’s superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it” Bertrand Russell said that envy was one of the most potent causes of unhappiness. Wikipedia

As the definition above goes, I definitely don’t agree with the latter in this respect – I don’t wish that anyone else lacks it and cannot do it as it is a horrible feeling when you can’t. The former though is certainly true for me.

I so desired to just be able to do it this time. Well, not even ‘just do it’; even if it took a few days. I was still struggling after weeks. It just didn’t come natural to me. Or N. Though the times we did manage it, it felt completely natural.

It upsets me when I see that people that seem to take to it like a duck to water. Like it is so easy for them. Natural. Like they just never get that feeling of failure. That they don’t even have to try.

I realise that maybe, just maybe, they have struggled but don’t tell anyone on the outside. But then there are those who tell everyone just how easy it was for them. (Here I will add that nobody has ever made me feel purposely inferior, it’s just something in my mind that tells me I am).

Every time I see someone breastfeeding, I am overcome with a mixture of feelings. Happiness; that their child is getting the most natural food and that they are doing the most natural thing. Disappointment. In myself, for the fact that I quit, again. Envy. Because one thing that is supposed to be so natural, just didn’t come natural for me when I so desired it to.

I’m not sure I will ever be able to brush this feeling off.

Guilt, yes, in time.

Envy, I just don’t know.

Though perhaps, that will disappear in time, too.

Our breastfeeding journey

Though it may seem trivial to some, this for me is a really hard post to write due to my previous breastfeeding guilt with J. 

Breastfeeding is something I really wanted to achieve this time. I had armed myself with information which lovely people had provided, telephone numbers and ready for the support of the local breastfeeding support peers. I (foolishly) convinced myself that I would ‘get it’ this time. That we would get it.

If you have read the posts from the early days after N was born, then you’ll know that it just didn’t happen like that (parts 12 & 3). Even in hospital, as much as I wanted to come home, I persevered. Perseverance worked, as he finally latched and we went home. 

Once we were home I continued to express as I had been doing in hospital. The B.A.B.E.S. came out to check on us and gave me a nipple shield as even though he was latching, it wasn’t good. This was so much better and we continued using it. But even then he was very fussy, so we were mainly giving EBM from a bottle as it was very upsetting for both of us.

For me, I found expressing so time consuming and tiring. Add that to the fact that when I wasn’t attending to N, J required my attention and I couldn’t not give it to him as he is a very clingy child and would get upset easily. And if I didn’t give him attention, by the time I’d finished, N would require me again. This really started getting me down and many tears were shed.

Which led to us starting to give formula top-ups. I think this was my downfall, and where I feel I sabotaged us being successful. Once that had started, it kind of became a downward spiral from there and the formula increased, so N wanted my milk less & less. Which also meant I was producing less & less milk as I wasn’t expressing as much either.

After thinking long & hard, and this time making an informed decision rather than feeling like being partially forced into it, I have decided to switch completely to formula. This time I know it is not poison, and J thrived on it. He is a happy (most of the time anyway!) healthy child. I will not feel guilty. I will try not to feel like a failure again.

But I will feel sad. 

Sad that our breastfeeding experience wasn’t as I imagined it would be this time. But happy that I managed to have a bit of one. I look at it that N has had 4 weeks of my milk, so I have given him the best start in life. I feel like I have given it my best shot this time, whereas with J I had pretty much given up before I’d even started. 

But I feel like I have let down the many people who tried to support me. I really have appreciated all the support, and I thank those people as I don’t think I would have gotten this far if I didn’t have that.

So that’s it, our precious breastfeeding journey is over. 

But I will treasure this photo forever. Something I thought I never would share even if I did succeed at any point. But I am proud.

No guilt, but now it’s the breastfeeding envy I have to deal with (and that’s a whole other post).

Once again, nobody said it would be easy (but then nobody said it would be so hard either).