2008 11/04

The postpartum guilt

I was very fortunate not to experience any postpartum depression with Abbi and, so far, I’m not feeling any depression this time around either. I count myself very fortunate regarding this because I know that it does plague some women in a very bad way. I did, however, experience quite a bit of guilt after Abbi was born. I felt guilt about how the birth turned out, constantly wondering if there was something I could have done differently. Maybe there was a decision that I should have made differently or something during the pregnancy that I could have done to prevent the early rupturing of my water and the early birth. I had to really work through that guilt and questioning and just be happy that the delivery was safe and my baby was healthy. But then I felt immense guilt when I could not breast feed. We tried and tried and it just didn’t work. I felt like a failure every time we attempted to nurse. I felt like a failure every time I put a bottle into my newborn’s mouth. Nursing was such a natural thing, why couldn’t I do it? What was wrong with me? Again, it took me a long time to work through that guilt.

I’m not sure I had quite worked through all that guilt even up to when Zoe was born. I think that was why I was so adamant about having a natural delivery this time around and making the breast feeding work. Tim kept telling me not to stress out so much about it but that was so much easier said than done.

Well, the labor came and it could not have been more natural (please do not read that as ‘easy’ or ‘wonderful’, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done). The nursing even happened this time around, with some work and lots of help from the nurses and lactation consultant. But the guilt has manifested itself in another way this time around. Even though Zoe latched on and was doing ok with the nursing, we have decided to bottle feed. After spending two nights of having Zoe literally nurse all night (she never left my breast), we weighed the pros and cons and decided that bottle feeding would be best for our family. I could not imagine spending all night, awake, breast feeding Zoe and then trying to take care of an energetic toddler all day. We decided that the biggest pro of bottle feeding would be that I could be a better mom to both of my girls and a better wife to my husband. Ultimately, I could be a better me.

This is still very tough for me. Every time someone asks if I am nursing I am overcome with the guilt. I am a huge advocate for breast feeding, but there comes a time when you just need to do what is best for your own family and forget what everyone else thinks. Even though that all makes sense in my mind, my heart still feels the guilt and I’m sure it will for quite some time.

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