Monday, June 26, 2006

Tired of feeling guilty

So my niece and her 4 week old daughter are thriving. Little One is growing and gaining well, sleeps easily and is a great nurser. My niece's swelled boobs are a testament to that. So after spending part of an afternoon with them, my negative voices come back in full force. In response I read blogs and do a lot of thinking. This is what I've come up with:

(a) Maybe my daughter was so needy her first five months because I needed her to be.

(b) Maybe her lack of perceivable movement in utero was just her and not me.

(c) I need to remember to embrace her for who she is, not who I want her to be, not how I expect her to be.

Why do I always have to take things so personally? In regards to

(a): I still find myself thinking I did something wrong. Constantly the voices in my head tell me (i) she wasn't getting enough to eat and so she was still hungry. Maybe this is true since she's been on the low side of the growth curve - but I certainly nursed her every time she cried - how can you make a "snacker" eat more efficiently? I tried distracting her and spacing out the feedings to 90 minutes like the LC suggested, I offered her formula and she wouldn't take it unless we tried really hard. BUT since she was a snacker she needed me often; she needed me to sleep with her the first two months. As a result, her early babyhood was different from what I expected, different from many other moms/babies I know. But I have tender memories along with the stressed out ones. Just because they're different doesn't make them wrong. They are OUR memories and I need to stop seeing other peaceful, chubby, sleeping babies and instantly think I did something wrong. (ii) I was too stressed out during my pregnancy and so she was colicky. Maybe this is true, which then cycles me back to:
(b): I blocked out what was going on with my body. Why was I so afraid to acknowledge this pregnancy? I didn't really talk to her, rub my belly, encourage her to move. When she did move, it would take me by surprise and she would settle back in rather than moving again. So there were no daddy moments. No kicking back and watching the show. No "talking" to me. I didn't walk around with my hand on my tummy and a smile on my face. I didn't tell anyone I was pregnant unless I had to - and when I did, I waited until I absolutely had to tell. It's like I was ashamed - the kind of shame an unwed teenage mother is supposed to feel, even though I didn't feel that way when I was an unwed, pregnant teenager. I didn't want anyone talking to me about it either. I spent 14 years justifying to myself (and anyone else who had the nerve to ask why I had no children) how full my life could be without a baby, now I was a hypocrite. Right? God forbid someone changes her mind. Why am I so hard on myself? I see now that my world was black and white because that's the only way I could see it. Part of me was so afraid of embracing the pregnancy - the more I thought about it the more I was afraid of all the things that could go wrong. And I just felt so undeserving still. I didn't deserve to be a mother, I wasn't supposed to be a mother, etc.
(c): I cried when I found out she was a girl. Went onto have my first conversation about how this baby was teaching me that she was her own person.

So I need to replace the negative voices with the mantra "She is her own person" and recognize that I can do all the right things but she is going to be who she is - a girl who was colicky, who is petite, who is wonderful. That she didn't move is not a reflection on me and my neuroses. That my tiny boobs never swelled to Dolly Parton porportions ... or anywhere near that doesn't mean I haven't adequately nursed her. Sure, Jennifer Garner and Kate Hudson's small chests are/were ample during nursing, but they have/had better/different nursers. She is a beautiful, happy, loving, and intelligent baby. I love her and she loves me. That's all I need to think about. And perhaps I should relent and love myself a little for a change instead of being my biggest and constant critic.


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