A Special Kind of Mommy Guilt

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been spending the last few weeks taking care of my new baby and my old baby, too. The main focus during this time has been feeding baby James. I’d say I’ve devoted 85-90% of my energy and thoughts just on that one thing.

You see, I decided before he was born that I would give breastfeeding another chance. I had discussed the issue in a post back in April, when I was still pregnant and that Atlantic Monthly article came out challenging the idea that “breast is best.” Even though I acknowledged then that formula feeding is perfectly fine, and was worried because breastfeeding was a dismal failure with my first child, I still wanted to try. Shows how ingrained the idea of “breast is best” is in modern moms, I guess.

In the hospital after he was born, things seemed to go OK. James was a good latcher and sucker. I wasn’t in too much pain. We thought this time might be the charm and breastfeeding would be a success. Hooray for me!

Not so fast, though. My little peanut (born at 6 lbs 9 oz.) remained a little peanut for his first week — he didn’t gain anything, only lost ounces. We came back to the pediatrician’s office after week 2 for another weigh-in, still no gain. What was I doing wrong? Well, the doc suggested supplementing with formula. After we did that, he put on a few ounces, so we stuck with the mostly-breastfeeding/some-formula routine.

Then came the one-month checkup. My poor boy only weighed 3 more ounces than when he was born. His puny little body looked so small and sad on the scale. I just wanted to cry, feeling like such an inadequate food source and ridiculously stubborn for having stuck to breastfeeding that long. I had unintentionally deprived my baby of much-needed food, and now felt like I should receive the Worst Mom Ever Award.

The very kind and supportive pediatrician explained that my milk supply was likely low, and that’s why despite frequent feedings and “doing all the right things,” James just didn’t get enough to eat. “It’s not your fault,” she said. But boy, the guilt filling up my whole self sure said otherwise.

I decided then and there that my experiment in breastfeeding was over. This boy needed calories, stat! The doc said to feed him formula, lots of it, every couple of hours. Of course, I’m having to wean off the breastfeeding too (OW), but mostly he’s getting that sweet, sweet milk from a can and already showing some results. He’s so much more content, sleeping better and longer, and we swear he’s already filling out a little (it’s only been three days).

The guilt is not gone, even though I know in my head I was trying to do the best thing for our son. In my heart, I see a skinny baby and it hurts. I want him to be plump and healthy. I want him to fill out his little onesies. I just so desperately want him to be healthy.

We’re due back at the pediatrician’s office on Thursday for a weight check. If all goes well, he’ll have put on significant weight and this special kind of mommy guilt will begin to dissipate. Keep your fingers crossed!

1 thought on “A Special Kind of Mommy Guilt

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.