Last month was hard in the land of parenting. I'm sure you're tired of hearing me talk about how sick we've been, but that's all I've been dealing with. Most of January looked like this:
It all came to a climax about two weeks ago when I had to take Olive to the hospital. I think this was the first time I had to seriously wrestle with mom guilt. I mean, of course I've experienced it a few times before, but to a much lesser degree. There have been days where I think I should have gotten down on the floor to play with Taylor more, or that I shouldn't have been on my phone as much. All the times I've felt that guilty nagging, it's only been slight offenses and nothing that made me feel like I was a horrible awful mother with no hope for recovery. I think for the most part I'm pretty good at realizing I'm doing the best that I can and give myself credit for keeping my kids alive and happy.
So back to experiencing my first real mom guilt. My poor little Olive had to be admitted to the children's hospital with a case a pneumonia. Thoughts like "Did I expose her to people too early?" and "Should I have caught this earlier?" raced through my mind. When they repeatedly stabbed and poked her with needles to try to get blood samples and an IV started, I almost vomited. My tiny 5 week old was being held down and screaming her little infected lungs out as blood seeped out of each failed vein. "Was this all my fault she had to endure this?" "She must be thinking that I abandoned her under these bright lights and am letting these strangers torture her." I almost felt guilty for bringing her to the hospital and subjecting her to all these tests and needle pokes. There was an entire 24+ hours were I wasn't allowed to feed her because the doctor was afraid she might aspirate the breast milk. Olive was so hungry and whenever she looked into my eyes I felt so much guilt. She had to be wondering why her mom wouldn't feed her. (Side note: When I was finally allowed to feed her, I was so so happy. I didn't know I could be so excited to breastfeed my baby.)
We ended up being in the hospital for several days which then made me start feeling mom guilt towards my first born. Taylor had been in the care of others while Andrew was at school and I was in the hospital. I hadn't seen him the entire time Olive was there. "Taylor is probably feeling so neglected." "How can I parent two children if I can't balance my time between the two right now?" It may seem silly, but you start thinking crazy things when your sleep-deprived and stressed.
I had to step back and realize that:
1. We were all sick. Taylor was sick. Olive was sick. I was sick. We all were suffering and that makes it hard to see things as they really are. I was more easily stressed. The kids more easily cried. This was not a normal day/week/month.
2. I was running on zero sleep. With both kids being sick, I was up most of the night with them. Plus I had a newborn who needed to eat throughout the night. For almost a week, I got about three hours of sleep. The night I brought Olive into the hospital, I didn't go to bed until 6:30 am and then got up for the day an hour later. One hour of sleep while dealing with pneumonia is not ideal. No sleep means being closer to an emotional breakdown.
3. We were still adjusting. Olive was only 5 weeks old. That means I had only been a parent of two for 5 weeks. I needed to give myself a chance to get used to my new reality of a newborn that needs to be feed around the clock and a toddler that isn't use to mommy taking care of anyone but him.
I guess the moral of the story is that mom guilt is real and ugly and destructive. Realize that voice inside your head that's telling you you're not a good mom or you're failing in your role is lying to you. Parenting is hard and you are doing the best that you can. If the kids are happy and safe and know that they're loved then you are rocking this mom life.