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.
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.