Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mommy guilt is alive and well. And ridiculous.

Noah will be one year old in less than two weeks.  And I can count on the fingers of two hands the number of bottles of formula he has and in the past eleven and a half months.  Otherwise?  All breast milk.  This is good, right?  The AAP recommends breast milk exclusively for the first six months.  We made that with no problem.  So why the guilt?  My supply has inexplicably decreased from about 40 ounces a day to 25-26 and we are down to our five bags of frozen breast milk.  So sometime this week he will be getting two bottles of formula a day to cover what he drinks. 

And this is why the guilt is ridiculous.  We made it to over ELEVEN MONTHS on straight breast milk.  I didn't come anywhere close to that with Noelle (I'm sorry sweetie).  It will only be for about two weeks but still, I feel a sense of failure.  I was thisclose to achieving my goal of one year with no formula supplementation.  And I'm going to miss it by two weeks when he'll switch to whole milk.  It's not a big deal, I know this.  But I still can't help but feel that I failed him in some way.  Is it a response to the battle lines which have been drawn between breast and bottle?  The ongoing debate on breast milk versus formula?  I try to stay out of the fray, to do what is best for my baby but can't seem to get my head and my heart to agree.  It's not like there is the mourning of the closeness of nursing as he has not nursed since about 4 months old though I have developed a very strong bond with my pump.  So why do I feel like a failure?  Rationally I know that two weeks means precisely jack.  If I'm being honest with myself, it's because I set a goal and will have come so close to meeting it but won't quite.  And therein lies the issue:  as mothers we are in competition with each other and ourselves to prove that we are doing it 'right'. But there is no absolute right, it's all shades of gray which plays right into the notion of 'competitive mothering'.   The competition is ridiculous.  The guilt is ridiculous.  But it's there and it's pervasive and it isn't going away.

Someday I'll be asked what my biggest regret or failure of motherhood was and as of today I would have to say:  two weeks.  And that pisses me off.  So as of right now, I am making it my goal to not subject myself to guilty feelings over what needs to be done be it having to work or supplement with formula for two weeks.  I'll do my best for my baby, for my family and only I can know what it is.  But I made the goal and I wrote about the goal so I ask you to help me in remembering and working to achieve the goal.  It will be hard and will require absolute conviction in what I do but if something is not worth doing right, it's not worth doing at all.

Still, two weeks.

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