Thus began a never-ending guilt trip


“Because you ate XYZ, he’s having a hard time poop.”

“Because you didn’t burp him right, he spit out his milk.”

“Because you didn’t tie his diaper correct, he has this red mark on his thigh.”

“How could you think of sleep when your child is bawling.”

“Don’t go to work yet, he’s so small.”

These are just a few examples of what makes me feel super guilty nowadays. As, a 3-month old first-time mom my first introduction to mommy-guilt was when I couldn’t burp the baby. “How can you not learn to do this. It’s your baby after all,” I was told.

Next came, baby poop. Pardon me but after living 30 moons as a carefree person knowing very little about baby poops and farts, it was repulsive to look at baby poop, dig in with a wet tissue and wipe the shit off. Yeah. And I had to learn to do this 24 hours after my infant was placed in my arms. Here I was still grappling my feelings and learning to be a mom while the hospital nurse happily demonstrated tasks like cleaning poop, and reprimanding me when I flinched a bit at the sight of poop or when baby pooped/peed on my hands. A rough beginning, I say.

Fast forward a few weeks, and I came face-to-face with this guilt again. I made the mistake of admitting that I was tired — with waking every 2 hours schedule, feeding the baby, burping him and then by the time it was okay to put him to bed the clock would show me that I had just a li’l over 60 minutes before this routine began all over. “It’s your baby, and every mother does this. How can you not manage?” 

As mothers, I began to second guess myself constantly and believe me the feeling of inadequacy is a tough one to overcome. In my pregnancy days, all the bookstores I frequented were bursting with books that doled out advice on the “right” way to raise your child, followed by magazines that informed me about how things go wrong with infants. And then I saw other mothers around me enjoying good moments, appearing to have it all together — latest clothes on their skinny bodies, kids/infants enjoying quietly while the mother indulged in her ‘girl’s chat session’ at a coffee shop. So, where was I messing things up? My head signaled, “If my baby cries there must be something I’m doing wrong.” And bam… mommy-guilt creeps in. 

Some days the guilt is so strong that it really kicks your guts. Example, when li’l champ has gone without pooping (sorry for the constant references to poop, but it is very critical factor in an infant’s well-being) for more than 24 hours, or if I can’t figure out the reason why he is bawling his lungs out, I often end up attributing my child’s health problems due to some failure on my part.

“Needing time to be yourself? And who will take care of the baby, in case he starts crying?” Mommy-guilt strikes again. But over the last few days, I have come to reason that is not selfish to look after your own needs. Most new moms are “touched out” at the end of a long day and need some time alone to recharge and this in fact has helped me to nurse or attend to my son better. It just is such a precious time to be alone with no one making any demands and passing no judgement on you.

 

Bottomline, I am putting it down as a fact of motherhood. It will bring me oodles of guilt, both felt and implied by others. But as they say every mother is unique and will have her own parenting style which not everyone will ‘approve’ of especially our own mothers or mothers-in-law. 
So, I am going to stop allowing mommy-guilt to own me or make me feel inadequate as a mother.
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