While all Mothers deal with their own cases of Mommy Guilt, it seems like it's so much stronger with the first child. We expect so much out of ourselves as Mothers, that sometimes we forget that we are only human, and that there are only 24 hours in each day.
We expect ourselves to have ideal birth experiences. That doesn't always happen. The fact of the matter is, things don't always go to plan. Sometimes we don't get what we want. We can only do the best that we can do, and that's okay. As a first time Mom my heart was broken when my birth didn't go according to plan. But I got a healthy baby boy.
We expect ourselves to be able to breastfeed perfectly. Truthfully, it's really freaking hard for some of us. Even with the best of intentions and tons of effort, sometimes we just need to give up. As a first time Mom it took me a long time to understand that formula is good for babies. No, it's not breast milk, but it is not poison. Sometimes the stress of breastfeeding is worse for both Mommy and baby than just giving it up.
We expect our bodies to snap back into the shape that they were before we had children. We focus on trying to fit into our pre-pregnancy jeans rather than focusing on trying to feel good in our own skin again. Many of us will never go back to the same size and shape that we were before. And that's okay. My wide hips are just perfect for toting around the babies that I love so dearly. And someday, when they aren't babies anymore, they will be perfect for toting around grandchildren.
We expect to feel emotionally in control. In reality, having a child is a huge change. It's okay to feel sad, or even depressed. PPD is nothing to be embarrassed about. It's something to be discussed. Millions of women suffer from PPD, and we are not alone. As a first time Mom, I suffered from PPD. I asked for help, and I got it. There's no shame in that. To be a good Mother we must not only take care of our children, but also ourselves.
This time around, I know how to shake the Mommy Guilt. I don't beat myself up about everything, and I'm so much happier. Even in the midst of some really tough breastfeeding issues (a baby who doesn't latch, full time pumping, and a low supply), I'm not stressing. Want to know why? Because I've been here before. I'm doing my best. But guess what? If my best doesn't turn out to be good enough, I have no shame in giving in and taking away that stress.
First time Moms, give yourselves a break. If there is one thing that I have learned, it's that parenting isn't something to beat yourself up over. It's meant to be enjoyed.
I'm enjoying it.