Monday, November 30, 2015

Mom Guilt Starts Before Conception

Mom guilt.  

Each of us has it to varying degrees, but we all have it.... likely oscillating between a soft whisper and a loud, CANNOT-BE-IGNORED yell from time to time.  Hopefully those loud moments are few and far between and we can ignore the whispers most.

Since FrenchFry was born two and a half years ago, my particular brand of mom guilt has centered around sending him to daycare (read: abandoning my poor child) and killing myself over pumping issues to make sure I never had to supplement breast milk.  (Not that there is anything wrong with using formula but, again, we are talking about my particular brand of mom guilt and I think breastfeeding became a non-negotiable for me because of guilt around going back to work).  There is also the guilt I feel when I don't want to play a game or read a book for the 15th time and really just want to pawn off bedtime on my husband and binge watch Netflix or bad reality TV.  I mean... I feel the guilt... but will still do it, of course.

But those more recent sources of mom guilt have overshadowed my previous incarnations and I had almost forgotten how early mom guilt really starts.  Now that I'm pregnant again I'm reminded how soon mom guilt starts to creep in.  It can happen even before you are pregnant.

Pre-Conception Guilt: It's real. 

How many of us wish we had lost more weight before getting pregnant?  And not just because of the weight we will gain, but to make sure we are as healthy as possible for the pregnancy.  This time around I started pregnancy 20 pounds heavier than when I got pregnant with FrenchFry.  I just couldn't lose most of the baby weight with him.  I nursed him until I was in my second trimester with this pregnancy and I'm still holding out hope that nursing was what kept me from losing the weight.  So... I guess we'll find out the answer to that in about 3 years if nursing Tater Tot ends up being much the same?  No matter what the reason was, I definitely felt guilty coming into this pregnancy not as healthy as I wish that I were.  The guilt:  it's there and it's real.

Pregnancy Guilt: 9 months of second guessing everything you do.

Much of pregnancy is filled with rules and restrictions on what you should eat and drink.  There are also activity restrictions, lots of conflicting advice, old wives tales, and sometimes straight-up shaming.

I remember when I was pregnant the first time and a (sort of ridiculous) friend of mine was saying that you only need an extra 300 calories per day when pregnant in a judgy of the "eating for two" theory on eating during pregnancy.  It wasn't the judginess about over-eating so much as when she said "a cup of blueberries is 100 calories."  (Cue the sound of my head getting ready to explode.)

Yes... let's judge pregnant women for eating too many blueberries.  Grr...

At the time I was in the fun queasy all the time and nothing except carbs or cheesy carbs could be eaten stage.  And I was particularly proud of myself because after I would settle my stomach with crackers or mashed potatoes just to get something down and keep myself from not feeling like I was going to puke for 45 minutes or so, I would shove a bunch of blueberries in my mouth and feel good about myself for actually eating something with some nutrients in it.

Yes, of course you should try to eat healthy, nutritious foods while pregnant (and always) but the shaming and the guilt is a bit too much sometimes.  As I write this, my Facebook news feed is filled with versions of (this) article saying "nearly half of pregnant women gain too much weight."  Cue more guilt.

Childbirth Guilt: This is the guilt that you get to feel guilty about having at all.

Personally I dealt with a lot of guilt around FrenchFry's birth.  It's enough to explore in a separate blog post, and I probably do need to revisit my feelings about his birth before I give birth to TaterTot.

Don't get me wrong, things turned out fine: FrenchFry was healthy, and I was able to have a vaginal birth.  But there were a few very scary moments when both FrenchFry and I went into distress and whether or not it was true, I blamed myself.  Going into his birth I wanted to avoid interventions and medication if possible.  Not because I'm some warrior woman, but because I worried that interventions would lead to more interventions.  And once I did get the epidural with FrenchFry, that is when those scary, tense moments happened.

But childbirth guilt is one that can cause you even more guilt for having those feelings.  I walked away from a healthy pregnancy and birth with a healthy baby.  Not everyone is as lucky as I was, so how can I even feel regret or express anything resembling a complaint about my experience?  Interventions may or may not lead to more interventions, but in this case guilt does lead to more guilt.

Now That They Are Here Guilt: The guilt that keeps on giving.

As I mentioned, daycare and breastfeeding have been my biggest two sources of mom guilt since FrenchFry was born. Of course they are not the only sources... once our kids are here the sources for guilty are endless.  And each new phase and milestone your child goes through brings new and different potential sources of mom guilt.  I usually have an amazing amount of patience for FrenchFry given my total lack of patience in every other aspect of my life... but sometimes it's just too much.  One morning this week, after having woken up in the middle of the night realizing I had forgotten to prepare for an important work presentation, I hit levels of stress and impatience with FrenchFry and our dog (sorry, Nola dog) that I feel pretty awful about.

But it happens.

We lose our patience.  We put our kids in daycare.  We work too late too often.  We look at our phones too often when we are with our kids.  We let the dishes and laundry pile up.  We forget to tell our partners thank you.

Mom guilt is real... but you aren't the only one.  We all feel it.  The hope is that it stays at that whisper as much as possible and when it's the loud, can't-be-ignored yell, then hopefully it doesn't last too long and we don't beat ourselves up too much about it.  We need to move on.

Recently I saw this quote and it's my new mantra:

"The very fact that you worry about being a good mom meant that you already are one." - Jodi Picoult

Do you remember when you first felt mom guilt?  How do you deal with the endless sources of guilt that come with the territory of being a mom?

Cuddle Fairy

My Random Musings


  1. Can relate to so much of this! I'm dreading day care with the toddler 😭 #anythinggoes xxx

    1. Yeah - it's rough. But it does get easier! Of course I say that on a day that my almost 3 year old clung to me and cried when I dropped him off. :( That is pretty rare these days. I think it was because of concentrated Mommy time over a long, holiday weekend.

  2. Totally understand on the pregnancy guilt (currently 39 weeks), I was judged for drinking coffee the other day! I looked this up and the limit per day is 200mg of caffeine, which I am WELL under as I only have one cup of coffee every now and then. It is my ONE joy during pregnancy! Let me have it! #candidcuddles

  3. Can't believe you were judged for a cup of coffee! I have a cup every day too, which is totally within the guidelines. And 39 weeks! So close! :-) Good luck!

    Red (Ketchup)

  4. Oh my. I didn't know it's like this. Thanks for the heads up. :)

  5. Yup you nailed it! Mom guilt starts before baby is even born & never ends! I think this quote is amazing & all moms should have it pinned on their wall! I'm sorry my comment is so late this week x

  6. I absolutely agree, I also posted about this quite a while ago, it begins even before you become pregnant, but the minute I knew I was expecting I felt guilty over everything. It doesn't stop, I always feel guilty about something, like not giving them enough time, opportunities, what I fed them for dinner the other night, saying no to something because I couldn't afford it. But deep down I know I am a good mum, I love my kids beyond words and I am always going to do the best I can! Great post! You sound like an amazing mum as that quote says the fact we worry means we are a good parent. Thanks for sharing #mg

  7. That quote totally sums this up for me - if you were a bad mother, you wouldn't care! I guess the guilt is part of the unconditional love thing, but as long as you are there for your children and love them you have nothing at all to feel guilty about :)
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes