Thursday, June 30, 2011

Failing at New Motherhood?

A kind friend accompanied me today to visit my new mom friend in the hospital. She needed some guidance with breastfeeding and I certainly wasn't the one to provide it, but I knew someone who could. My friend is on day 4 of being a mom and she is doing great, but she isn't feeling this way. She's feeling like a failure because she had a c-section and was having a hard time feeding.

It brought me back to my early days of motherhood. Like her, I had a c-section and had difficulty breastfeeding. Those are the first two tests of motherhood. How successful was your labor and can you breastfeed your child? I failed on both counts. By day 4 I was a weepy mess. Nothing was going like I thought it would and my post-partum depression had started to kick in. The days that followed were not good. How would I ever keep this child alive?

All these years later, those memories still hurt. Even though it has absolutely nothing to do with the present state of my life, it's still hard to listen to "ideal" labor and delivery stories and people who feel that breastfeeding is the only acceptable feeding method.

But despite my rocky start, I was not a total failure at motherhood (although I've certainly had my days!). Motherhood is a marathon, the outcome of which is not determined in the first days or weeks. Getting a baby out healthy by whatever means necessary is far more important than having a natural vaginal birth. Bonding, while it can take place at the breast, doesn't have to. It's our own expectations that do us in. The important thing is to do what is best for your child. That is the true test of being a good mom.


noreen said...

Hi Patrice, I share one of your experiences as being a new mother. I had a normal delivery but had issues with breastfeeding. And being a new mom, I wasn't aware that my baby wasn't getting enough breast milk but I knew something was wrong. I brought him to the pediatrician 4 days after birth and he was admitted to the hospital for jaundice. They quickly surmised that he had an inadequate sucking reflex while using a bottle formula and that is why he lost some weight.
After that, I had to hold his jaw up while he was drinking his bottle. I was too stressed by then and I wasn't able to pump and I wanted to see the ounces he was drinking to make sure he was drinking.
I agree, that it doesn't mean you cannot bond with your baby if you're not nursing. For some of us, it wasn't the best solution.

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur said...

Thank you for sharing your story. Those first days of motherhood are so stressful!

Best wishes,

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