Just Talkin’ Tuesday 05.11.10: Postpartum invoke guilt? You are not alone

I know some of you are sucking air past your teeth through pursed lips right now, nodding your heads in agreement, rolling your eyes and possibly even muttering.

Really? She’s dragging THAT ghost up?

Yup. I sure am.

But why?

Because it’s important to face every facet of Postpartum head on – even the ugly parts.

Why is it so important? So those who are currently struggling KNOW that they’re not alone. So they KNOW that the emotions they’re feeling – while alien to them – are actually quite common among those of us who have struggled before them. The more we talk about our experience, the less victorious the stigma, fear, and guilt will be!

And let’s face it, GUILT is one of the uglier parts of Postpartum. It makes decisions we’re faced with during our Postpartum Mood Disorder even harder. No decision we make is a guilt-free decision.

Breastfeeding and having to medicate? Guilty. What is this doing to my baby? Should I be medicating and breastfeeding?

I had a c-section. Maybe I shouldn’t have had that done. Maybe that’s why I have postpartum. There’s that guilt again, sliding in through the door.

I had a vaginal birth but my c/s friends think I’m holier than thou now (even if I’m not) and won’t talk to me. HELLLLOOOOOO guilt.

I’m bottlefeeding because I can’t breastfeed or breastfeeding grosses me out or I was told to stop by my doc. Oh guilt? Won’t you PLEASE come in? Please?

My daughter/husband/others are judging me for my lack of parenting skills. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Fishbowl Guilt: The feeling of judgment from everyone!

I’m thinking about having another baby/I don’t want another baby. Guilty over lack/desire to become/not become a mom again. Especially when pressured by others to become a mom!

I struggled with Fishbowl guilt with my first daughter. I sucked as a mom. My husband told me all the time what a great mom I was and how amazing I was at taking care of our precious daughter. But I never believed him. Even my 7 day old daughter judged me. I had no idea how to relate to a newborn. I’d never done this and just like her, I was brand new at this relationship. I kept the blinds in our house closed all the time. I used the excuse of nursing but it was really to keep all the people outside from peering inside to witness my daily failures as a woman, a mother, and a wife. I had fallen and there was no way I was sharing THAT with the world.

With our second daughter, I pumped exclusively for 7 months so she could get breastmilk as she was born with a cleft palate. It finally came down to my mental health and my relationship with my first daughter and husband or breastmilk for my second daughter. I bought formula. Cried all the way there and all the way home. Managed to keep the tears down in the store but heaven help anyone who had decided to give me a speech about the superiority of breastmilk. I had a whole tirade planned. I even had to fight with WIC to provide Enfamil instead of Similac because they were under contract with Similac but my daughter couldn’t tolerate the stuff. I had to get a doctor’s prescription for plain old Enfamil in order to win that battle. And that meant I had to fight with my then idiot pediatrician because he couldn’t understand what the difference was between the two and almost refused to write the script. Thank goodness for a local IBCLC who gave me the free Enfamil sample she had in her office. She saved them just for me and that meant the world to me.

Our son was a champ nurser from the start. And then we had issues with a bad latch habit. Then there were the back to back to back cases of thrush. I even had to go on an anti-candida diet to finally kick it because our ped and the OB couldn’t get their treatment schedules lined up. I nursed my son for 6 months. During that time, I had some severe emotional trauma unrelated to PPD. It killed my supply. My son was diagnosed as Failure to Thrive at 6 months old. The NEW pediatrician wanted me to pump. HAH! I was so not going back down that road. After a very emotional day of contemplation, we opted for formula. Everyone in the family dove in and donated bottles, a warmer, and we were on our way. Cameron switched completely within the next day and we never looked back.

I did not have Postpartum with my son. Sure, I had issues crop up, but they were not related to the birth of my son. And I weathered them just fine.

I had finally learned to put my guilt up on a shelf and leave it there. I still get it down to dust it off occasionally but it’s never stayed down for very long.

The biggest lesson I learned from my Postpartum was to let go of my guilt. How did I do this? My angel of a therapist once said something to me in relation to a situation with which I was struggling. She told me that how others react to you is THEIR gig, not yours. Wow. HUGE. It really hit home with me and I practice it each and every day. I’m also a huge proponent of believing that as moms, we have to make the decision that’s the best for ourselves and our families. I respect that in others and in myself.

So let’s get to just talking.

Do you deal with guilt? What’s your biggest source of guilt as a mom who’s struggled with Postpartum? Have you put the guilt behind you? How’d you do that? Share your tips for guilt-free living as a mom. Are you still dealing with the guilt and think you shouldn’t be? Try giving yourself permission to be ok with your decision. It’s amazing how far permission will go if you give it a chance.

0 thoughts on “Just Talkin’ Tuesday 05.11.10: Postpartum invoke guilt? You are not alone

  1. Lisa

    I struggle with fishbowl guilt, too. My rational mind knows it’s THEIR problem, but so often I’m tempted to see myself as others see me – the reflection of myself in their judgment. It’s the reason I’ve been slow and cautious in whom to share my PPD struggle with. I think maybe when I get on a little more stable ground I’ll be in a better position to deal and let go, but for now it’s just a select few family.

    1. Lauren

      I think when you’re struggling it’s best to leave the serious explaining to a select few. I got so tired of having to explain my story over and over again (even to medical professionals) that I didn’t talk about my experience a lot when I was in the midst of the storm. But now, well, yanno – not so shy about telling anyone who will listen. It changes once you heal. And how you choose to share it is certainly up to you!

      1. Lisa

        Is there a blog or site for those fighting PPD to share their stories? I feel like I want to blog about it but my personal blog isn’t the place (for now). Reading stories from those going through it and those who have won the battle is so helpful – would be great if there were a place for (anonymous?) submission of stories.

      2. Lauren

        You’re more than welcome to type something up and share it here anonymously. You can email it to ppdacceptance(@)gmail.com. I used to do an interview feature on Thursdays with survivor moms and experts. I have plans to bring it back so it’d be a perfect fit.

  2. Gina

    My son is 19 months old and my biggest source of guilt is feeling like I missed out on so much those first few months of his life. I wasn’t his #1 caretaker like I should have been. I know he was not scarred by it, but I was. I have to keep telling myself that I need to enjoy now and stop looking back.

    1. Lauren

      “I know he was not scarred by it, but I was.”

      I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have had to remind myself that I am the one who remembers how hard it was, not the kids. I try so hard to focus on how good things are now. Took me a long time to get here but it is possible. One day at a time, one day at a time!



  3. Hope

    I still struggle with fishbowl pissed off-edness, not really guilt. It makes me so angry when people judge me as a mom and say stupid things like “I think he’s tired of being held,” when they really mean “You hold him too much.” Also, the few people who take the chance to judge whenever they can are the people who turned to me when they had their children! Hello! I just remind myself all the time that it is their problem, not mine, and maybe that is why I don’t have fishbowl guilt. However, I do have a good bit of guilt from trauma during the pregnancy. When I was 34 weeks I fell down a flight of stairs, and even though it hurt my knee badly the baby was fine. However, a well meaning physician (who thought he was making a good joke) said “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t fall down any more stairs. Your baby is breech, and he is not wearing a helmet. If you fall like that again it could kill your baby!” Since I work with him I know he didn’t mean to make me feel bad, but he really should think before he speaks. He was trying to put me at ease by making the helmet joke but it backfired. My regular doctor (who I saw a few days later) was irate when I told him what the other physician had said and tried his best to undo the damage, but it was too late. Even now I have trouble walking down stairs without thinking “I could have killed my baby. How could I have done that?” My husband also didn’t help- as soon as we found out that everyone was okay, he asked “Were you wearing those damn crocs that I told you not to wear? I knew you’d trip on them. I bet you weren’t holding the bannister either.” He was wrong on both counts. I was barefoot and holding the bannister. My feet were just so swollen I couldn’t feel them anymore and it is hard to walk on feet you can’t feel. Luckily, my doctor came to me after I delivered and said “Your swelling was so bad before you fell down the stairs and went on bedrest. Even now it is really bad, but if you hadn’t fallen down those stairs and been on bedrest for a month I think you would’ve had some serious blood pressure issues, which would’ve been way worse for the baby than your fall. The accident was an accident, but it just might have saved you from more serious complications.” When he said that I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of me. I realize now that guilt is a perception, and that if you look at the positives that come from a situation you’re much better off. I have to remind myself of that when I get nuts going down the stairs each morning! Thanks for this topic Lauren, I needed a reminder!

    1. Lauren

      Amazing how that accident proved to be beneficial in the end! I bet hearing those words helped you so much.

      It’s so hard to keep focus on the positives when everything is falling apart. But if you hold on to that instead of what’s falling apart, you’re so much better off. That said, it IS ok to fall apart sometimes – and as Mothers we need to give ourselves permission to do that. No one can be “on” all the time without stressing out.


  4. Stacey

    Guilt is a frustrating thing, I think it’s easier to succumb to it as someone who suffers with postpartum issues.

    My frustration with “mom guilt” is it is seeping out of the internet. There is so much judgment out there and it’s easy to Google something you have a question about, things like breastfeeding or bottle feeding, or anything else there are without a doubt more then a few websites, blogs, forums whatever that will make you feel guilty for which ever choice you make. I wish that women spent as much time building each other up, supporting each others choices as they did so strongly voicing that anyway except their way is wrong, the postpartum period would be a lot easier for all new mothers. This obviously wouldn’t solve PPD for all new mothers, but how about we stop salting the wound. Making the new mom think she’s doing everything wrong is not at all helping the fact that she already thinks she is doing everything wrong.

    For those currently struggling with that feeling that every choice is a bad choice because so and so said so, remember they don’t have your child or children, those kids are yours and like snowflakes totally unique one way is not the right way for every child, every mom, every dad, or every family. You’re doing an amazing thing because you’re here, you’re looking for help, you’re talking to other women who have been there or are also there. That in my eyes makes you a wonderful mother and a strong women.

  5. Cheryl Jazzar

    I gave it up. Cold-turkey, completely finished, STOPPED doing guilt! Last week.

    I heard an awful statistic from someone who attended a local conference on homeschooling. The speaker asked what percentage of moms reported they thought they, “Were doing a good job at being a mom”.

    The answer? ZERO PERCENT!

    That just made me really angry. Guilt is a flat-out lie from the enemy of God. We were chosen by the creator to mother the very kids we were given. We were made righteous in His image and yet we have to deal with living a life on this earth. We were not called to listen to “the great accuser” or to beat ourselves over the head for any imperfection. If we have faith in His word, we can strive to be a Proverbs 31 woman, our children will rise up and call us blessed and we can be released from agreeing with lies and actually live in freedom. It’s a choice.

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