Mom Guilt- the voice in the back of your head making you question every parenting decision; The social media posts of other mom's who seem to have it all figured out, and the slow tug at your heart strings and your sanity at the same time. Deciding to go back to work early has brought on the mom guilt for a whole variety of reasons. Most recently around breastfeeding vs. formula feeding.
When the baby was born, my plan was to try breastfeeding, but if it didn’t work, I would switch to formula. My intent was to make sure the baby was fed and healthy, and not stress myself out over where the food came from. Conveniently, I was successful breastfeeding, and I had a great supply. Out of sheer stubbornness and an internal struggle between what was best for me (going to work) and what was best for the baby (breastfeeding), I have kept up with breastfeeding and pumping since I returned to work two months ago.
The exhaustion that came with this was unreal as the baby would be up at least twice in the night to eat, and then I would get up to go to work. Recently, as the baby got two very sharp teeth, I moved to exclusively pumping. This allowed my husband to take over the night time feedings (which conveniently became shorter and less frequent), and allowed me to only get up once during the night to pump.
Pumping exclusively went well for roughly 3 weeks. I had a really good supply and was able to maintain it. All of a sudden, I am starting to lose my supply, and I can no longer keep up to the baby's eating habits. Although I hated to admit it, I knew it was time to switch to formula. After countless hours of research, and a few posts to mom groups, we settled on a formula to try.
Although I knew the day was coming when we would need to introduce formula, I was not prepared for the overwhelming mom guilt when the day finally arrived. Scooping the formula into the bottle was much harder than I anticipated. Was I giving up too quickly on breastfeeding and pumping? Did I choose the right formula? If I hadn’t gone back to work so soon, could I have kept up the breastfeeding and pumping longer? Was I being selfish? A million thoughts ran though my head as I made that first bottle.
In the whole 45 seconds it took to scoop the powder into the bottle, I was riddled with guilt, and was basically mom-shaming myself. So, I did what most mom's do, I had a small freak out, packed up the baby and went to Wal-Mart with a girlfriend. Getting out of the house was necessary, and venting to someone who has lived through the breastfeeding vs. formula battle before was necessary.
After a little retail therapy (aka stocking up on baby food and diapers), I was able to calm down and remind myself that just like the millions of other formula fed babies out there, she is going to be fine. It will take me a while to fully get past the mom guilt and fully appreciate this transition, but I know it will happen. And just as I get over the mom guilt of formula feeding, something else will change and I will have to battle the mom guilt all over again.
What brings on your mom guilt? How do you cope with it? I would love to hear how other mom's manage the mom guilt that seems to come with every transition.