Thursday, September 9, 2010

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I'm familiar with all kinds of guilt associated with motherhood. I feel guilty over not being able to get Cati on the breast. I feel guilty because maybe I didn't try hard enough to get her on the breast. I feel guilty that I couldn't handle the labor pains. I feel guilty that I stalled at 8 cm for over 3 hours. I feel guilty that I ended up with a c-section. I feel guilty thinking about what I did wrong when it came to something my body is supposed to be built for. I feel guilty knowing that even though I had major abdominal surgery I was able to leave the hospital after 3 days but Cati couldn't because of her bilirubin levels. I feel guilty over not enjoy those first 3 months. I feel guilty over not wanting to relive the difficulty of that newborn stage even though I know the baby stage is so great. I feel guilty over not spending enough time playing with Cati. But how do you define enough?
I feel guilty over always wanting to hand her off whenever I have guests. I feel guilty not showing her all the love I feel. I feel guilty wanting a break from her sometimes. I feel guilty feeling nostalgic about my life pre-baby.  I feel guilty whenever Cati gets a bump or scrape or mosquito bite. I always feel like I did something wrong. Like I didn't do enough. Like I wasn't vigilant enough. Like I was careless. Like I should have done more. I accept this guilt. My life changed forever on February 14th when Cati was pulled out of me and I took responsibility of her life and well-being. I've become more cautious. I worry more. I'm more afraid. I'm more scared. I'm filled with more questions than answers. I want nothing but the best for Cati. I never want her to doubt how much I care for and love her. And yet, I feel guilty because every single thing related to her feels like a reflection of me and how I am doing as a mother. Again, I feel like I'm not doing enough and like I should be doing more. I understand this is my issue. This is all part of how I process and define my motherhood.
The guilt I didn't anticipate was the guilt I'd feel when it comes to Alex. No, I'm not talking about feeling guilty over having him come second to the baby. I'm talking about feeling guilty over my being so involved in Cati's life while he's not. I have the wonderful job of caring for Cati full-time. Yes, I complain about it and, yes, I want a break all the time, but would I rather be doing something else? No. I get to be with Cati every day. I get to know her in ways that no one else will know her. I get to witness all her firsts. The day begins and ends with me. I get to dress her, shower her with kisses, cuddle with her, hug her, see her explore, see her smiles, hear her giggles, smell her baby scent, soothe her, console her, wipe away her tears. Deep down I even enjoy the not so fun things like changing diapers. In other words, I get to really, truly, and fully enjoy Cati. It's at my disposal whenever I'm ready to enjoy and savor her. I get all of the time while Alex only gets fragments of time. As a result, I feel like a jerk even complaining about needing/wanting a break because I get to spend my time with the greatest kid in the world while he slaves away at work.
I'm so grateful that I get to stay home with Cati. Because of the amount of time I spend alone, if I had to work and then come home to care for Cati I would feel like a single parent sometimes. This way, I am constantly aware that I get to stay home because Alex is working hard and sacrificing his time so that I can have all the time with our daughter.
I know I need a break sometimes. I need a break if I want to continue being a good mother to Cati. But at the same time I feel guilty over being upset when I don't get a break because I don't have to worry about ever missing Cati in the way that Alex does. It's all so conflicting. I hate the guilt and I hate feeling like I can't do anything to lessen the feeling.
Now because life is funny Cati will turn out to be the biggest daddy's girl and I will end up writing a post about how guilty I feel over not doing enough to make Cati want me as much as she wants her daddy.


Sarah said...

When you write posts like this I feel like you suck every last thought out of my head and put it into words. What kind of things do you do for yourself when you get a break? (If you want to email me instead of going back and forth with comments my email is sgh131 at yahoo dot come). I hear people say all the time that you need to take time for yourself in order to be a better Mom and I really need to do this but I have no one except my husband to watch Liam for me. My only time alone is grocery shopping once a week and after 10 months I am starting to feel so burned out and really understand what people mean when they say you need that time to be a better Mom.

Natalie said...

I just want to encourage you that from what I see, you are doing a great job as a mom, and that you don't have to feel the weight of guilt. This was helpful for me to read as a new mom - - maybe it will be helpful for you, too!

Katrina said...

Great post, Stephanie. You are a great writer and mom! Love all the pictures with Alex and Cati. Look how tiny she was!

Mommyhood Mayhem said...

I completeLY understand this post. You are not alone! But, guilt is something that we--as mothers--will deal with over so many things, I think. We become mothers the day we consider getting pregnant and the day that stick shows two lines. It's different for Dads...and, being a SAHM is a very difficult job. We may not bring home the $$, but we do a heck of a lot. And, from what I've seen, you go over and above what many other moms do.
You should be proud--you have a beautiful, healthy, and super happy little girl (I mean, could that smile GET any bigger?). You did that. Take a break when you need it--share the job with the hubby and don't feel guilty. Remember that a good mommy needs time to renew her energy--otherwise we end up tired, frustrated, and at the end of our ropes!


Mommyhood Mayhem said...

I SO completely understand you!! I feel exactly the same way. While on one hand its wonderful and rewarding to spend so much time with your precious baby it can also become overwhelming.

My hubby works a TON too. And I know he understands when I'm complaining about being overwhelmed but I also know in the back of his head he's saying "seriously???".

Keep fighting the good fight! :)