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  • Feeling Guilty and Worried

    Hello,

    I want to first say thank you to anyone who takes the time to read this post. I am new to these forums and really excited and relieved to have found other mothers going down the same path. I gave birth to my son August 25, my first. From the beginning, he slept next to me, breast fed on demand and was treated with attachment parenting 99.9% of the time. This was actually done on instinct and a few articles on babies' health that I had read. I had no idea at the time it was called attachment parenting.

    Unfortunately, mothers I know recommended the 'BabyWise' book along with all sorts of unsolicited advice. Thank goodness my gut told me not to listen to the advice and I went with it. Except for one time. When my son was 5 weeks old (already 12 pounds and sometimes sleeping on his own for stretches of 4-5 hours mid-night) I decided one night to try the BabyWise method of letting him cry in order to drop one of his middle of the night feedings.

    When my son woke up I let him wake, then make noise, then cry. The book said to go as long as 45 minutes, but around 30 minutes after he'd first woken, I had enough. I was there the entire time, pacing where he couldn't see me as the book suggested, feeling sick. Finally I picked him up, apologized while crying myself and fed him. The next morning I threw that horrificbook in the recycle bin. But ever since, I have been worried sick that I caused psychological harm to my son by letting him go hungry and cry in a dark room for an agonizing 30 minutes.

    I also worry that in the first weeks there were times when he didn't get his needs met right away because it took me twenty tries to figure out why he was crying. I would be there, holding him and often crying myself because we were so connected, but it would take me several minutes to figure out why he was crying and fix it. I might try to feed him when it was really his diaper, etc. After a couple weeks I learned his cries and cues and now he barely cries at all. He grunts and I know what he wants.

    Also, during the first 2-3 weeks we had a lot of latch issues. He never missed a meal and once he was latched he stayed on and ate, but sometimes it would take us many tries for him to latch. I remember a few times where it took nearly 45 minutes. Most of the time I estimate it took 10-15 minutes. I wasn't very good at breast feeding in the beginning, as I had never done it before, but now I look back and worry that he spent extra time hungry and crying while I tried to attach him over and over.

    Finally, there were a few times where my son has startled from a loud noise or something in the environment and I don't think we reacted the best. This is maybe 10 times and includes my husband for half of them. He would startle and start crying and we'd be there and react immediately, but sometimes we'd say in a calm voice "it's okay, it's just the vacuum cleaner" instead of picking him up and being soothing. Or a few times my husband has said 'Hey' or just kept doing what he was doing, such as keep dressing the baby, instead of trying to soothe him. Almost all the time my husband is great, and he spends a lot of time with our son holding him and playing with him and showing affection and our son recognizes him and shows preference to him, like when my husband comes home and my son hears him, he wants to go to him and say hello. But my husband has been warned by his friends with kids all the same idiotic things that are in the 'BabyWise' book and my husband was afraid to "spoil" the baby. I have since explained to him that scientifically it is the opposite and he agrees. He has also never bothered me at any time about what I do with the baby.

    I know that there is no perfect parent, however I know that a couple times I did not react properly. I have not been able to forgive myself for these incidents and instead have been searching for scientific information on how much damage they may have caused. I have only been away from him for 4 hours in 15 weeks. This was broken up into 5 different times (not all at once) where he was left with his dad out of necessity (I had to go to the doctor and he was less than a week old and I didn't want to bring him into a germy situation.) Two of these times I ran into a store while he stayed with his dad. Still I feel guilty.

    I am just wondering if anyone has had similar feelings or experiences to me, or if anyone who had a baby and didn't do everything right all the time can assure me that they grew up to be just fine? Lol. Sorry if this post was long winded. I guess I really needed to get this off my chest.

    Thanks again and nice to be here!

  • #2
    HI there - I read your post while completely relating - there are a few times I feel guilty about too. One time when Maya was about 6 weeks old I believe and I was trying to the lying down feed and she was having trouble latching and I persisted, I often feel bad about that cos' she was getting frustrated. One time I left to go to the midwives and was too scared to take her on the freeway and left her with some breast milk in a bottle, but I knew in my heart there wasn't enough and my husband said she became v.upset, also another time when I went to get my bro from the airport and wanted to avoid germs (should have got my hubby to do it looking back) and left him with formula cos' she had drank it early days but had gone off it and cried bloody murder - that was just the worse!!

    I get guilty for feeling utterly frustrated inside when she won't nap and I just want 30 mins alone - but I just take a deep breath and stroke her face.

    Other times if I feel a bit burnt out I channel that in to excitement towards her - uses that unpleasant energy up in a positive way.

    Remember, as I do, if you are sensitive to him, as it sounds like you must be to ask these questions, then I think he feels it - you can't fake love and he knows it and you can always chat to him and explain what has been going on, I've done that before.

    Give yourself a break and know that being aware of this is central to what you must be providing - best wishes - Rebekah

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    • #3
      i said this in another post, but will say it again here. mommy guilt only serves to tear you down and steal your joy. it sounds to me like you need to accept the fact that you're human, and so is your baby. which means that babies were built and wired strong, meant to tolerate the mistakes of their mothers and fathers (and others). if you keep taking a record of all of your mistakes, you will very quickly realize there isn't a ledger big enough to hold them all! i like how scott noelle puts it, if i can remember right, he says that parenting is about forward progress, not perfection. so, instead of focusing on what you did wrong, focus on learning and moving forward.

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      • #4
        We all have those moments in all parts of our life where we wish we could of made another choice in retrospect. You will make more missteps in parenting as you go along and you MUST forgive yourself or else you can not enjoy being a parent or a person.
        I do try to make amends to those I have slighted (yelling at my 4yr old) Talking to him later and apologising, strategizing on how we can avoid that again. Learning from our mistakes as parents, what works for our children and our families....
        A baby will quickly fall back into your attached fold, its just the repetitive and prolonged things that would really be question (days and weeks and hours).

        You should try to find some local people who can give you the support you need. It is hard when others keep pushing things on you you totally do not agree with!

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        • #5
          Hi Rebekah,
          It's good to meet you. Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. It's good to know I am not alone, though I am sorry to hear you feeling guilty, too. I really like your suggestion on channeling energy to excitement toward your baby. I'm definitely going to try that. Anytime I feel guilty, I'll try to move those feelings into more energy to play right now. And I definitely think you were right when you said "know that being aware of this is central to what you must be providing." Thanks again.

          Thanks as well to Pax and Naomi. I really appreciate your encouragement and it's good to meet you and know I'm not all alone out here!

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          • #6
            I find that mistakes are very important, crucial even, to my parenting. It is often by doing something wrong that I figure out what the right thing to do is. I remember giving my DS a time-out when he was 13 months old. I needed to do something and my culture told me that a time-out was the appropriate thing to do. I had not done any reading on AP past babyhood but, even if I had, nothing I ever read in a book would make me understand the inappropriateness of my action better than that negative experience with my toddler.

            Mammy, sounds like this might have been one of those pivotal mistakes for you. I know that you kept a book in your house that you were not comfortable with and now that book is gone. What has changed inside you to cause you to throw that book away? What has changed in your heart? Mammy I think your mothering is INCREDIBLY caring and responsive. I think this "mistake" has made you an even better mom.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Jessica View Post
              I find that mistakes are very important, crucial even, to my parenting.
              jessica,
              that is truly profound. thank you for sharing this!

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              • #8
                These are great responses and I agree 100%.

                I just wanted to add that it is not the same to leave your baby to cry alone than being there with him crying (even if it is both of you) while you figure out what is wrong or how to make things better. That alone is caring, your are teaching your baby that maybe you don't know what is wrong but you love him so much you will try EVERYTHING to figure it out.... that is a great lesson to learn!

                Also you can positively apologize... such as I apologize for so and so, that is not the way I want to respond to you, I want to respond with love/kindess/......... (emphasis on ".........", not on negative feelings) (this also from Scott Noelle)...

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                • #9
                  Hi Mammy,

                  i had my little boy on the 30th august and similarly to you did not know of attatchment parenting but was practising most of these principles (bar co sleeping) before i became aware of it.
                  I have a much much worse guilty story!!! my son suffered (is better now) from colic for the first 11 weeks and just two weeks into my life as a mother, one evening he was just screaming and screaming. i didnt know what to do, i had fed him, changed him etc tried again to feed him to comfort but he was too distressed. went for a walk with my partner and baby in the sling and still he screamed. it subsided now and then but just started up again and again. i went for another walk just myself and the baby as my partner did not want to go.
                  i was walking alkong and i dont kniow why i didnt think before i did this but i just screamed too. not at him but at the sky but he was so close to my body and he just stopped crying. then about two seconds later let out this terrible scream that sounded just like mine ,
                  oh my god i thought i had forgiven myself for this but now i am crying .

                  i walked along and apologised over and over and swore i wopuld never do anything like that again.
                  like you i am really concerned that he will be damaged by this but cant find much info.
                  since then we are getting along great and i feel like i can handle things and if i cant i have strategies of dealing with things if i am stressed.
                  at the time i was really done in (had emergency c and emergency hysterectomy too so my body and mind were in pretty sore state)
                  now i think it made me realise that EVERY decision or action i take must be thought through carefully and i feel like i learned a big and painful lesson.

                  wishing you a big hug

                  lizziebee

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                  • #10
                    I know the feeling. DS is 21 months old and I remember feeling so bad when I would hold him and I just couldn't figure out what was wrong. I would break down and cry right along with him sometimes. As he has gotten older its gotten slightly easier. I still feel bad about certain things like working full time, but when I start doing that I try and counter it with something positive like even though I work we have "mommy time" every single night. I've found that when I get down bringing up something I know I do well ellivates the "mommy guilt" that I'm feeling at the momment. HTH.

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                    • #11
                      I am so touched...

                      I am so touched by all of your stories and good advice. I feel so bad for not replying sooner, but I had a crazy weekend trying to get ready for x-mas with DS attached to me in the wrap the whole time. We had fun.

                      Jessica - I totally know what you mean about throwing out the book. When I did that I definitely shifted into totally trusting my instincts over any other warnings. Thanks so much for the loving words.

                      Lumena - I had a talk with the little one and apologized. The entire time he twirled my hair and smiled, and I think we came to an understanding. It really lifted my spirits.

                      LizzieBee - I feel your pain and a great big hug back. This might sound funny, but I read that part of teaching a baby empathy is showing them you understand their feelings by mimicking / acting with similiar response. Like if your baby is laughing, laugh or if he's crying make a soft face instaed of smiling to cheer him. Maybe since your little one was crying himself, when you screamed it was sort of like someone else felt it with him. Maybe that's why he mimicked you back and since you have had a more understanding relationship.

                      Aerodriver - the fact that you are here and the fact that you feel bad makes me certain you are an awesome and caring mom!

                      I really am just so touched and overwhelmed by everyone's responses. I can't tell you what a relief it is to know there is someone out there to talk to

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                      • #12
                        Mammy, I agree with everything people have said here... you learn and you are well intentioned, and babies are surprisingly resilient esp. when they receive the level of nurturing and support that practitioners of attachment parenting give to their children.

                        I was / am very much like you, almost going nuts because I felt like people giving me conflicting advice, I was exhausted and stressed and on top of that feeling utterly incompetent. I have a type A personality and extremely driven, and probably beat myself up more often than needed.

                        Early on, a friend told me something that changed my thought process forever. She listened to my postpartum rant, when I was hormonal and weepy and scared and upset for not knowing what I was doing or not knowing why my baby was crying (or how to stop it). Then she said that only I can be my baby's mom, and I know my baby better than anyone else - I can listen to other people's advice, but they'd be speaking from their perspective of how THEY parent THEIR KIDS, not my kid. It gave me a tremendous confidence boost, and even though I've made a ton of mistakes since and had many more weepy days, I still believe that I know my baby better than anyone else, and it helps me get through some days.

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