Mom Guilt is REAL, it is powerful, it is painful, and I’ve come to learn that it is sadly, unavoidable. I had never really thought about it at all until I started following Cat & Nat (they’re two super badass moms who have created a community of women who empower and support each other throughout the crazy life that is motherhood). Anyways, I had heard them talk about Mom Guilt in several videos and read about it in their book but I had NO CLUE the magnitude of it until I got pregnant. From being pregnant to now having a two and a half month old I have already experienced mom guilt about more things than I can count. I don’t share this so that people will say to me “you’re doing great mama” “you got this, you’re amazing”, etc. I’m sharing this because while there’s no cure for Mom Guilt I’ve found two tricks that have helped me manage it.
THE TRICKS ARE
1. Surround yourself with people who lift you up.
2. Find what works for you.
- PREGNANCY: When I was pregnant I struggled a lot and at times I felt guilty for not loving every second of growing a human. I learned that instead of venting to people who were going to add to my guilty feelings by telling me how much they loved pregnancy or how I should really enjoy it while it lasts- I turned to people who I knew would listen and sympathize with me. My friend Leah for instance, who despite the fact that she has way harder pregnancies than me, never made me feel bad for complaining and never made my problems feel inferior.
- CAR SEAT HEAD PROTECTORS: This is a TINY thing that in the grand scheme of things doesn’t matter at all but I struggled with it a lot as I was nearing my babies arrival. I had received two super cute, Eddie Bauer neck/head support things for the babies car seat and I couldn’t decide for the life of me if I should use them or not. You see, technically by safety standards you’re not supposed to use anything that didn’t come with the carseat but Ave’s carseat didn’t come with a piece to protect his head from falling over to the sides. As I was discussing my internal dilemma with my mom I told her “If I use them, I’ll feel guilty because I know it goes against safety standards but if I don’t use them I’ll feel bad because his head wont be able to stay up and it might hurt his neck” She didn’t give me any guidance about what I should do, instead she said “When I was a kid, we didn’t even have carseats and we’re still here. Whatever choice you make, your baby will be okay and it’s clear by the amount you’re already overthinking every detail of his first car ride, that you already love him and will take the very best care of him- carseat inserts or not.” She reminded me that I didn’t need to feel guilty either way, I just needed to do what I felt was best for my baby and own it.
- BABY WON’T SLEEP FLAT: The first few weeks home with our sweet babe he REFUSED to be laid down on a flat surface (aka his bassinet), he would scream every time you tried to set him in there. He slept a few nights in our bed with us, a few in his rock n’ play, and a few in his swing but I knew none of those were permanent solutions because none of them are considered safe for infants to sleep in. Eventually someone suggested trying his boppee lounger in his bassinet and he loved it so that’s how he slept for a couple weeks but that too was temporary as loungers like boppee, snugglemeorganic, and docatot are all not considered safe for sleeping. I know TONS of mama’s who co-sleep, or let their babies sleep in a rock n’ play, or docatot and I completely understand why they do. I don’t judge them at all because you gotta find what works for you and if that’s what works for your baby, great. This wasn’t “working” for me though because I was suffering from crippling mom guilt knowing that I wasn’t doing what was safest for my baby. I spent countless days on the phone with my friend Kylie who continued to remind me that I would find what worked for us and encouraged me to keep trying the flat on his back method. One night I tried it again not expecting it to work, and SURPRISE, it did. All of a sudden he decided he was ready to sleep flat on his back with no pillows in his bassinet. If instead of being encouraging and understanding Kylie had been judgmental or condescending I don’t know how I would’ve survived the mom guilt I was battling in those weeks.
- I NEED TO SWITCH TO FORMULA: I breastfed Avery for two months before I switched to formula. I loved being able to breastfeed him, it was an amazing bond and I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. I wasn’t producing very much milk though and I couldn’t get back on my “crazy pills” until after I was done nursing. I decided that it was best for my mental health that I stop nursing and switch to formula so that I could get back on my ADHD medication. Two weeks after we switched to formula, I was hit randomly with an overwhelming wave of mom guilt because I felt like I gave up too easy and like I was being selfish by switching. In that moment when I was in tears and feeling like I made the wrong decision my girls were there to remind me that I am a good mom and by doing what was best for my mental health I was doing what I needed to do to be the best mom, wife, and employee I can be.
YOU FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. For me the carseat with no inserts worked, the bassinet works now, and formula works. For you totally different things might work and that’s okay because you gotta do what’s best for you and your babies. Regardless of what works for you though, when you’re struggling with mom guilt- FIND YOU’RE PEOPLE. Find people who you can go to that will build you up, not tear you down. That will remind you your a good mom, even when it feels like you’re not.