Cue The Guilt: How I Learned to Deal With my Working-Mom, Mommy Guilt

All moms provide for their babies to the best of their ability. In a society where so many families need two incomes, not all mommys have the option to stay home. Us working moms need to stop beating ourselves up. What’s right for one family isn’t always what’s best for your family. Your baby won’t love you less because you work.

CUE THE GUILT

I’ve come to the decision that if you’re a mom there will always be some form of mommy guilt. In my case it’s from working full time. I feel guilty waking him up on my early mornings, who wants to wake a sleeping baby?! I feel guilty when my mom or sister have to distract him with a toy or cartoons so I can sneak out the door. My half hour commute is filled with guilty thoughts, “did I give him enough snuggles, did I spend enough time with him the night before, should I have let him play in the bath longer, did we read enough stories, I should have sang him one more lullaby”.  I drove myself crazy. I knew it would be hard but we made the decision when I was pregnant that I would need to continue full time, I just didn’t realize how hard it would be.

I returned to work the day my son turned 7 weeks old. It seemed crazy to me, they don’t even let puppies leave their mothers that soon. But, when the limited disability ran out I didn’t have a choice, if we wanted our house, our two cars, food on the table, we had to be a two income family. My son actually handled it really well, it made it easier that he’s with family, but stress and anxiety quickly got to me. Major was not the worlds best nighttime sleeper and my husband worked the over night shift. One week shortly after my return to work I got a TOTAL of 12 hours of sleep. Most days I was a mombie (get it “Mom” “Zombie”?) I quickly figured out the whole nursing while lying on your side thing. Which was great for a while! We were both getting sleep and I could catch up on snuggles, but I swore I’d never bed share, so when I was and it was working, I still felt guilty.

It wasn’t long before I found something else to feel guilty about. Major was already getting half formula half breast milk during the day, and my supply was dwindling. I tried everything to pick it back up but eventually it was gone and Major was a full-fledged formula fed baby. I felt awful and did I mention guilty?!

MAKING PEACE

I was stressed to the max. I wasn’t happy; I ugly cried daily and most importantly I wasn’t letting myself enjoy the time I did have with Major. After being away from him all day, I’d come home and was completely overwhelmed by my wife and mommy duties. I found myself anxiously waiting for Major’s bedtime. Seriously? I was away from him all day! I felt like a terrible mother. I begged my husband to let me quit or go part time, but deep down even I knew it wasn’t possible. I felt so guilty and like I was missing out of so much of Major’s life. I was so concerned about making sure Major had a routine and keeping the house perfectly clean all while maintaining a full time job that I was missing out even when I was home, I had mentally checked out and that wasn’t fair to Major, my husband or myself.

Something had to change and after an always enlightening conversation with my mom I realized it was me. She told me that 20 years from now I won’t remember if the house was spotless or if all the laundry was done. I’ll remember my little moments with Major, the ones I’m taking for granted now. She told me how one day I’ll give anything for these nights back, and after more ugly crying I realized how right she was. Once I finally realized this, I made myself relax and enjoy evenings with my baby. It’s like the storm lifted, I was happier and more importantly Major was happier.

MAKING THE MOST OF IT

Things are much better now. When I get home we play and make funny faces at each other through dinner and after I lay him down at night I usually find myself sitting on the couch, missing him, staring at the video monitor watching his chest go up and down. As a full time working mom, it’s easy to feel selfish for still wanting time to yourself. It’s not, you’re allowed to, and you deserve it!

Don’t get me wrong there are still days that are really hard, and I tear up while leaving him, but I’ve made peace with the fact that I work, and realize I’m just doing the best I can and he’s going to be okay. This has helped ease the guilt so much. Major is now 8 months old and has such a great personality. I was worried mommy leaving him everyday for work would ruin him, but he’s such a happy little guy, and the smile I get when I walk through the door after a long day is priceless.

I guess us working moms will always find something to feel guilty about, but reminding ourselves we are doing the best we can with what we have helps. I think all moms can relate to that, whether you’re a stay at home or working mom we’re all just doing the best we can, because we love those little babies so much it hurts!

Routines are for Babies | Why You Shouldn’t Stress About the Bedtime Routine

ROUTINE ROUTINE ROUTINE

After my son was born and sleep became a commodity I began combing the internet for tips and tricks to get my baby to sleep better.  Everything I read eventually came down to getting your baby on a routine, and this terrified me.  I have never been a routine person, my husband and I even have a hard time remembering the garbage pickup routine, which is only one day a week!  I remember a few years ago, when my smile wrinkles around my eyes started to show up, I invested almost all of my Christmas loot into expensive face care products.  Almost $200 for a face scrub, wash, toner and lotion to be used in a specific order every night before bed.  I think I stuck it out for oh, maybe a month before I started missing a night here and there, then it eventually got to a point where I was only remembering to do it a night here and there.  I still have some of the toner left…

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

My point is, I have never ever been good with routines and I was pretty sure this time would be exactly the same way.  Cue the ‘stressing for no reason because I am a new mom’ moments and also my belief that I was never going to get good sleep ever again.  Well guess what, I had nothing to worry about.  My son basically established a routine for me- bath, story/playtime, bottle, bed around 6 months old when we transitioned him to his crib in the nursery.  If any one of the steps are skipped he doesn’t go to sleep for a long time, so there has never really been an option to stray from the routine.  And surprisingly I have really embraced this whole thing.  We aren’t super strict down to the second about when to start bedtime, that alone would make it stressful, but once we are done with dinner and maybe hang out a little bit, little man will start the eye rubs and that is generally our cue.  This can occur anywhere between 6 and 7, maybe a little earlier if we didn’t get in a good second nap, sometimes a little later if his second nap went a little long.

Bath Time  

Bedtime gets kicked off with a bath in our Fisher-Price 4-In-1 Sling ‘n Seat Tub which is the same tub we have used since my son was first born.  The sling was great for when he couldn’t sit up yet and now the seat is perfect for letting him feel somewhat independent while still giving him support.  There was a little bit of an awkward stage where he didn’t want to lean back anymore but also couldn’t fit in the seat, but it wasn’t a very long stage.  My little guy has always enjoyed bath time; well minus the first few that were pretty dramatic; and he enjoys splashing around with the bath toys.  I’m not completely convinced that he finds it very relaxing but I think it is more of a trigger for him to know it’s time to start winding down for bed.

Playtime

Once he is dried off and I have wrestled him into a clean diaper we will play in the play room for a little while.  I am sure there are some people who will disagree with this strategy but it works for us and that is what matters.  This is usually the best time my husband gets to spend time with our son during the week and so we enjoy the time we have.  We will sometimes read a book or two during this time and it also gives him extra time to scoot around and work on his mobility.  Once he starts getting cranky or the eyes get really red it’s time to get the sleeper on and move into the nursery.

Bottle

This part of our bedtime routine will have to be phased out shortly but for now it is still in the lineup.  This is also another one of those things some people might disagree with because the argument is you don’t want your children relying on the bottle to fall asleep.  The difference is, my little guy doesn’t fall asleep after he has his fill of formula, instead he rolls around in my lap and we get a few burps out before I put him in the crib.  If he is tired enough, he will sometimes snuggle with me in the glider after the bottle and this is the most adorable and sweetest time we have together throughout the day.  I leave my phone out of the nursery, the sound machine is going and we just enjoy being together.  This is my favorite part of the bedtime routine, although sadly it doesn’t happen every night.

Bed

Once all of this is done, into the crib he goes, wide awake but happy as long as all the gas is out.  He gets his pacifier and lots of kisses from mom and dad before leaving him to settle himself.  He will generally roll around and talk to himself for about 5-10 minutes before finally passing out face turned against the mattress, butt up in the air.

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TO EACH THEIR OWN

If you were to ask 10 different moms what their bedtime routine is with their kids I would assume you would receive 10 different answers, or maybe even more.  And guess what, not a single one is the ‘correct answer’.  Because there is no such thing.  Each family and each baby will figure out what works for them, so don’t stress about it.  This is something that will just naturally occur for the most part, with maybe a little bit of nudging in a direction that works best for you.  Have faith in yourself momma and read all 10 different answers, then pick and choose which one works best for YOUR BABY!

The Illusive Pacifier | Why I Chose to Use One

The illusive pacifier in its natural habitat likes to hide in dark corners and camouflage itself to its surroundings.

But seriously where the hell do all the pacifiers go?? I think we own at least 15 of them and I currently only know where 3 are at this exact moment.

And then all of a sudden they all seem to reappear at once, turning up everywhere I go!  Who else has this phenomenon happened to?!?

TO PACIFIER OR NOT TO PACIFIER

Before my son was born I had seen a lot of information  discussing why you shouldn’t start your child with the pacifier- become too dependent, thumb is easier to wean, teeth issues down the road and things like that.  I had decided to try to go sans the pacifier for as long as possible.   I very quickly backed out of this conviction the second night home from the hospital during a 3 a.m. diaper change.  My husband and I were both once again trying to wrangle our screaming newborn out of his dirty diaper and into the new one, his screams piercing our overtired ears.  On a whim, I pulled out one of the pacifiers sitting in the drawer beneath the changing table and popped it in his mouth.

Silence.

We both let out a sigh we hadn’t even realized we were holding as his little body relaxed and he became somewhat peaceful.  That was the day my son started using the pacifier and still does at 8 months old.  At this point, it is really only needed to get him to sleep but he will still use it throughout the night at times too.   And guess what- he’s still okay!

YOUR CHOICE

I can’t tell you how many times I was grateful to be able to pop a pacifier into his mouth when he gets cranky, either before bed our while we were out in public or just whenever.  This is not an advocate piece for the use of pacifiers, in fact if your child doesn’t need it then that’s great! But what I do want to say is if you do end up using a pacifier because it helps your child soothe, then that’s okay too.  Sometimes I think people take these little topics and blow them way out of proportion.  I hate to break it to you but people have been raising babies for thousands of years, we aren’t the first ones and they didn’t have pacifiers.

I can’t tell you how many times I have had people tell me how much they wished their child would have taken a pacifier but instead were fussy.  So I choose to be grateful that I can plug up the crying and give both of us a little peace.  It is my personal opinion that everyone should do for their baby what works best and not care for one second how other’s feel about the topic.  Below are the Mam and Avent ones we used and the soothies are also a great option!

 

Fed is Best…duh! | My Struggles with Breastfeeding and Formula

As someone who has been there, making the choice to breastfeed or formula feed your newborn can be difficult.  I say this as someone who has done both and understands the struggles that come with either decision. Here’s my story.

IN THE BEGINNING

Feeding your baby is your #1 job once he or she is born.  Whether you choose to breastfeed or formula feed is a very personal decision and can be affected by many different factors.  This is a topic I struggled with minutes after my son was was born, a month in, three months in and 7 months in.  During my pregnancy I became incredibly anxious and breastfeeding was no exception.  As a Type A personality who needs to thoroughly prepare for everything and know exactly what to expect, giving birth to a new born human really threw me for a loop.  I read up on the different positions to hold your child while breastfeeding, picked up Lansinoh Lanolin Cream and Organic Bamboo Nursing Pads and bought 6 different types of bottles in case he didn’t like some of them.  As far as I was concerned I was as prepared as I could have been, especially since I obviously assumed I would be one of the women who was naturally going to be awesome at it. 

Boy was I wrong, on all accounts!  There is actual photographic evidence of my cry of pain the first time my son tried to latch but instead bit down as hard as he could with his toothless gums. Just because he didn’t have teeth doesn’t mean those little gums aren’t rock solid and felt like the jaws of death!  Throughout my stay at the hospital he just couldn’t seem to get the hang of it and I was already starting to feel like a failure as a mother, just a few days in to my new job.   By the time we got home from the hospital my nipples were so sore I was barely holding back tears every time he tried to nurse.  It got to the point where I would let him sleep longer than recommended because I dreaded the next nursing session.  Frozen nursing pads with lanolin on them gave me some short term comfort but everything just felt wrong.

THE MYTHICAL NIPPLE SHIELD

So of course I jump on google to try to find some solutions and one thing that keeps coming up is a nipple shield.  What the hell is a nipple shield?  I think I remember one of the nurses mentioning that in the hospital but nothing else comes to mind.  So off to Babies-R-us we go to find this mythical thing called a nipple shield that I am convinced will solve all our problems.  Man was that exactly what it did! The Medela Nipple Shield is the one that I used, but you might have to give it 2 tries before you find the one that is the correct size for you.  Once you figure out the size you need, all you do is stick it on your boob and offer the pointy part to your infant who should latch on to it and start suckling.

The first time I used it was like a dream come true, there was still some soreness but nothing like before which had essentially felt like someone rubbing heavy grit sandpaper across one of the most sensitive parts of my body.  The best thing the shield did was allow my body time to heal without continuous pain, the worst thing it did was make it very hard for my son to learn to latch  without it.  Commence the unnecessary worrying and stress that for some reason all moms seem to do to themselves.  I ended up having to use the shield for the first two months of my son’s life and guess what- he is completely fine. 

I only ever met a few other women who were using or had used them in the past, or at least only a few women talked about it.  They seem to somehow have fallen into the category of things that lower your status as a good mom.  I hadn’t realized this until  a woman approached me at Mommy and Baby yoga class while I was using it.  She was so relieved to see someone else using one and until then had been embarrassingly hiding in the corner with her and her daughter both almost completely covered by a blanket.  It was then that I realized she felt ashamed for having to use a nipple shield and I was floored.  Sure I had realized it obviously wasn’t the norm and was slightly envious of women who seemingly had it all figured out but it never occurred to me to be ashamed.  That stupid little piece of plastic; while making the process much messier; had allowed me to supply my son with all of the nutrients he needed and I was incredibly grateful.

THE PROMISE LAND

On the day of his 2 month wellness visit he kept refusing the shield so on a whim I gave it a go without it and voila!  Like the last two months didn’t even happen he quit the shield cold turkey and we were off on a brand new nursing adventure.  Unfortunately, this adventure hit some pretty rocky roads only about a month later when, due to lack of sleep and a pretty nasty cold, my supply dropped dramatically.  On the third or fourth night of my son screaming in my arms because he was still hungry but nothing more was coming out, my husband had had enough and opened a bottle of formula.  He offered this bottle to my starving son who sucked it down with abandon while I held him and cried, feeling once again like a failure.  This was something I was very unfamiliar with feeling but there was nothing I could do to change it.  Sure there are lots of suggestions out there on how to increase your output but most of them involve sitting for hours attached to the pump.  I already dreaded pumping and after very little success and many hours wasted I gave up. Looking back on my hospital stay and follow up wellness visits one jarring realization I had was; not a single healthcare professional ever uttered the word formula to me.  Guess what- it is not poison!

Once I came to terms with this new situation however, I felt relieved.  Relieved that not all the pressure was on me anymore, relieved to not have to always be within 100 ft of my son at all times and relieved that I could sleep for longer than 3 or 4 hours at a rip!  Supplementing with formula offered me a little more freedom which was the hardest transition for me so far.  I obviously love my son with all my heart but at the same time I was feeling suffocated and needed a breather.  So beginning at 3 months we started supplementing once a day with formula.  Unfortunately this creates a snowball effect and by 5 months my right side had completely dried up and my left side was hanging on by a thread as his intake of formula increased.  The fact that we sold one house, bought another and moved in and out of those respective houses only after a cross country road trip did not help my situation.  Right around the 7 month mark, my son started to get his bottom two chompers and would use them in his frustration if not enough milk was coming out. Ouch!  It was at this point that it became apparent that I was only trying to hold on for my sake and it wasn’t benefiting either of us to continue.

Although it is recommended to breastfeed for the first year of your child’s life, it is not worth sacrificing your sanity and well-being for.  I will admit I still feel guilty at times, convincing myself there was more I could have done to up my supply.  But forcing myself to do something that made me miserable was not going to be good for me, my son, or my relationship with my husband.  I do miss it at times but I know I will have another opportunity down the road and hopefully it will go a little smoother the next time around.  So I will leave you with this, no matter how you end up feeding your child, as long as you do just that, it doesn’t matter how!  Just don’t start them off with chocolate cake!

More Than a Mom Blog

Welcome to the site of a real mom sharing real life shit.  “Here we go again” you think to yourself -with a sigh and an eye roll- another Mom blog.  Trust me I feel you and want to assure you that is not my intentions whatsoever.  If you’re looking for relatable stories about parenting, fitness, travel and more you are in the right place!  Expect to read the raw truth about everyday things not the glammed up versions you see all over the internet with warm and fuzzy moms who use flowers and the color pink.  I will be talking about all the gory details, the lessons learned and navigating life without sensors.

My name is Jess, I am a newly minted 28-year-old stay-at-home mom with a Master’s degree and way too much pent-up energy!  I am in the US Air Force as a traditional guardsman, I am a trained yet unemployed archaeologist,  I run marathons and half marathons for fun, I love photography and I just moved to the Southwest with my family and plan on doing ALOT of traveling.  If any of that sounds interesting to you stay tuned for the fun has just begun!