Monday, December 12, 2011

Mama Guilt

As Moms we all have them – moments where we feel guilty for our decisions, our actions, and our thoughts pertaining to motherhood. Most of the time, these guilty feelings are unwarranted. Most of the time, the things we feel guilty about are no big deal. But, we still have them. Always.

I have been thinking about writing this post since the day I found out I was pregnant with Baby #2. On that day? It was so unexpected but, whoa. Mama guilt swept over me in a way I’ve never experienced it before. And I’m not even really sure why. I guess the torrent of emotions and hormones probably played a part. But it was still hard to understand.

We planned for this baby. We prayed for this baby. We hoped for this baby. But when this baby become a reality? I thought, “What the heck have I done?”

I remember being so overjoyed as soon as I saw that positive test. I snapped a picture of it and then I quickly scooped Evalyn up in my arms and excitedly told her that she was going to be a big sister. Of course, her one day shy of 13-months old self had no idea what that meant. But she laughed and hugged me. Because she could tell something happy and exciting was happening.

A few hours passed and it was time for her nap. I changed her diaper, read her stories, and started rocking her and singing to her, as usual. And that’s when it hit me.

Never, ever, ever again will it be just Mommy and Evalyn. Not even once. Not even for a second. From now on, I will always have to share my heart, my body, my time, and my thoughts between her and another child. Even though I knew I still had over 7 months until this child would be born, a piece of myself now belonged to him or her and that was final. There was no reversing that. Never would it be just her and I. Never again. So, as I stood there rocking and singing, tears started gushing. I held her a little longer. I promised her I loved her so much. And I wondered if I’ve done enough, loved her enough in the time that we had – just the two of us.

When naptime was over, I rescued her from her crib and we snuggled in the chair in her room for our normal nursing session. And that’s when another thought hit me – what will I do about nursing? I had always hoped to make it to one year. And that we did. And then after we crossed that milestone, I decided we’d keep going. She still wanted it. I still loved it. I decided I’d let her take the lead and go with the flow. But, now I was pregnant. Would I still want to nurse while pregnant? What if she didn’t wean herself before the baby arrived? I knew I didn’t want to tandem nurse. So, what?

After a few days of consideration I decided I was going to actively start the weaning process. I didn’t want to tandem nurse and I also didn’t want the battle of weaning a toddler at the same time as welcoming a newborn. I wanted to be sure that I would have enough time between her weaning and the new baby arriving that she would hopefully forget about it and not try to revert. So, enter more guilty feelings. Am I being selfish for making these decisions when it was clear she was still content nursing? Maybe. Is that okay? Yes. Does it still make me feel guilty? At times.

These two examples are just a few. I won’t even get into the guilt I’ve felt through this crappy first trimester as I’ve laid myself on the floor and let Evalyn destroy everything in her path play by herself while I barely manage to keep myself awake. I won’t mention the guilt I have felt when I think about how I will be able to give the newborn enough time, energy and love when I am also chasing a 21 month old toddler around all the time. I won’t mention the guilt I’ve felt when I’ve sat Evalyn in her high chair with her breakfast, turned on Barney and raced back and forth between the toilet and my bed almost every single morning for the past month.

The truth is, I know, know, know in my heart that the benefits of giving Evalyn a sibling are gifts that far outweigh anything that having a sibling may take away from her. Both Evan and I grew up with siblings, we both love our siblings and we both know that we want that for our children. But still, the guilt creeps in because the love a mother has for her children just isn’t always logical.

How is it possible that having two children doesn’t mean I have to split my heart 50/50 between them? How is possible that my heart will have the capacity to expand to provide enough for both? How is it possible that I will be able to be and give 100% to each of them at the same time? It doesn’t make sense. It isn’t logical. But, somehow, it is. These are the mysteries of motherhood.

20 comments:

Lindsey B said...

I could have written this (minus the nursing part). Your post makes me feel a little more normal. We can do this! And we will rock at it!

Paige said...

Motherhood is so very special and something that takes a lifetime to probably fully understand. Whenever I first found out that I was pregnant with Bryar. I had these same exact feelings, although not only was I adding a new baby into Charli Beth's life I was adding her a Father as well. It was a huge adjustment for me most of all (she handled it all perfectly) because reality slapped me in the face on several occasions at the fact that I would never have "me" time with her again. Our days of only us were ending. But since Bryar has arrived I now understand that my heart can expand even more than I ever expected because my love for my family is tremendous and these children are everything to me. I hope the Mommy guilt eases up on you and the weaning process is an easy task as well. I will be thinking and praying for your wonderful transitions.

Katie @ Loves of Life said...

Beautifully written, momma.

Laura said...

I have been having so many of these same feelings myself! I feel guilty and sad like I am taking something away from the munchkin and giving it to someone else. I know everything is going to be fine and that she will be so happy to have a little sibling, but I can't help but feel sad and guilty about it at the same time. I imagine it would be even harder having a child that is only 13 mos. The munchkin is 27 months and I am a mess about it as it is. Funny thing is, I am sure my husband would never even consider having those feelings himself. I guess woman are just silly and wonderful like that.

Jess said...

I remember when I found out I was pregnant with Gabe. I cried for a week. I felt soooooooooo guilty. All those things you write about I felt too. So much.

I won't tell you your heart will love a second baby 100% as much as you love your first. I have four, and I love all of them with all of my heart, but it doesn't make sense until you experience it.

Know you're not alone in the guilt. I've been there. Hugs, mama.

Erin said...

Oh, ladyfriend. We're not even THINKING about Kitty 2.0 yet and I already have The Guilt. And so did every single one of my friends! But? 100% of them assure me that as soon as your family becomes a fam of 4, it totally vanishes...kinda like how I was sad to be losing the "us" of 2 when Katherine was born! Now I can't imagine life without her - and I know you feel the same way!

Erin said...

I'm pretty sure all of these feelings just confirm that you are a great mom. And when the new little one joins the group you'll be an even greater mommy.

As for the awful first trimester while wrangling in a toddler. I've been there. I was working as a Nanny for a 14 month old when becoming pregnant with J. Turning on Barney while running to the bathroom sounds all too familiar. Hopefully that will settle down in your second trimester!!

Gina said...

I felt this same exact way. I remember the summer that G was born, I was a cow...just hugely pregnant, but I made sure to take L special places every day. My mom would ask if he could spend the night and I would freak out, saying, "we only have a few more months/weeks/days of just the two of us...NO you can't take him!"

And now? I am so, SO glad that I have two babies (yes, L, is absolutely still my baby boy). Just this weekend, we saw Santa at a family party, and the first thing L yelled out when Santa walked in was, "My brother is Grayson!" Santa chuckled and said, "Do you like him?" Logan emphatically answered, "Yes!" :)

Watching your two babies together is absolutely amazing. When they start loving on each other, get the tissues ready.

Erica said...

I had a little "scare" when Kirsten was like four months old. I went through all that then, and when we did get pregnant with Simon, I had none. So weird. Trust me when I say that seeing them together is THEEEEEE best thing ever. I can't get a picture of them both looking at me lately, because all Simon wants to do is stare, smile, and laugh at Kirsten. When he wakes up from a nap? She runs to his pack-and-play and says, "Hi brother!" over and over again. She holds his hand all the time. They laugh at each other, Kirsten chuckles, then Simon chuckles, then she laughs because he's laughing. It is so damn sweet. I know you're having hard feelings now, and I know you will find this all out, but I can't wait for you to find out how amazing it is seeing your first born little girl love her little sibling so much.

Did I ramble? Oops. But I meant it all. :)

Anonymous said...

I went through all of the emotions you are going through. I remember sobbing on my way in to the hospital before delivering my second baby, not because of labor pain but because of, "what was I doing to my firstborn baby??!!?!" Somehow, some way, I promise you that love multiplies & never, ever divides.

Mandi @ Finding Home said...

Congratulations!!! It's been light years since I've really read any blogs so tonight I'm trying to do a little catch up. I'm sooooo excited to read that baby #2 is on its way!! What wonderful, wonderful news!! Yeah!! SO very happy for you!!

Lynsey said...

Beautifully written and I think I could have written this post as I experienced these exact same feelings when we found out we were expecting #2.

We planned for this baby. We prayed for this baby but it didn't hit me until a few days post positive test that never again would I just be Masons mommy.

Overtime, I have come to love the idea of giving Mason a sibling and I know his love for his sibling will be one of the greatest joys in his life but I do find myself cherishing our time together perhaps a little more than before(which I didn't think was possible).

Laura @ My Thoughts-Uninterrupted said...

This is an amazing post. I know everything will work itself out once the second child arrives just like it did when the first one arrived, but you can't help but wonder and you can't help but feel a tinge guilty. Just know there will be double the love...for both of you! And the gift of a sibling for your little girl will be something she cherishes forever.

Justine said...

like everyone has said so far... this was written so beautifully and so many of us can relate... no one has the answers because I don't think there is one. Thank you.

erin - mutterings of eringirl said...

You and all the commenters are more confident than I was... I was terrified that I was not going to love them both the same. Seriously, I feared what would happen if I loved one more than the other. I guess that makes y'all normal and me strange. The GREAT news is that didn't happen. But I understand the guilt thing- when I even begin to think about a third child I already feel guilty for my girls- as twins they already split my attention and time and I worry about dividing it further. But I am confident that another child would only create more love and when the time comes you best be reminding me that it's ok!

In the meantime, I hope every moment with Evalyn is a gift and that you create memories you can always cherish!

Anonymous said...

I have a 4 month old, a 22 month old and a 9 year old. It took us so long to conceive #2 that #3 was a big surprised. I nursed #2 up to her 1 year and I struggle with making sure I spend time with all 3. My Momma guilt is in full force, but I know as #3 gets older, it will be so much easier!

Ashley said...

I could have written this same post...except for the actually being pregnant with #2 (just yet). :) I have all of those fears and guilt already. Just talking about trying to get pregnant with #2 makes me want to vomit and run pick up my baby and cry some more. It's crazy, I know. But just know (from what I hear!) it's normal. :) And you are a great mom!

Backwards Amber said...

I'm so worried that I'm about to upset a very very good balance we have here. I felt similar with Alexa...I was terrified to become a mother, but now I'm worried I'm going to ruin our amazing relationship with another child. I look at her, and I just cry sometimes, because only I realize how limited her alone time with me will be. I really hope she loves her sister and feels a special bond rather than resentment.

Perfectly Imperfect said...

I'm terrified to feel like this. But... I do think it's normal. And you are an amazing mother. I think you'll be surprised how much you rock at having two.

Ashley said...

You took the words out of my mouth. We're thinking about #2 and I've actually started crying when just discussing my guilt with my husband.