I have apparently been starving my 4 month old son.
He came into the world at 9 pounds and really packed on the weight for the first two months. These last two months, however, he lost a pound.
I have been breast feeding him exclusively and have been really proud of myself for being able to give him the best nutrition possible, so I was both shocked and really bummed out that I’ve actually been totally ignorant of the fact that he was hungry.
My poor baby has just been hungry all this time.
With my daughter, I had to start weaning at 3 months because I went back to work full time and pumping breast milk in a high school is quite challenging. Walking in on your history teacher with a giant plastic duck attached to her naked breast is enough to traumatize a kid for life.
So since I decided not to hog the teacher’s bathroom for 30 minutes during lunch or horrify my students during 3rd period, my eldest child got formula during the day. I felt horribly guilty about this.
I also felt guilty that I even went to work at all and I especially felt guilty that I enjoyed it.
I really liked lunch (and I was eating at a high school cafeteria) because no one touched me.
I felt guilty because she had an ear infection that I didn’t notice for a while. I felt guilty because the first day I went back to work she didn’t take a nap for the entire 8 hours (she was 14 weeks old). And when I picked her up her glassy-eyed expression looked like she’d been hitting the ‘shrooms a little too hard. She collapsed, exhausted onto my chest at home while I cried and cried.
I haven’t felt as guilty with my son because I generally do a better job at parenting–or at least I don’t make the same mistakes as I did with my daughter.
So the guilt I feel at starving him is pretty awful. My husband says helpful things like “you shouldn’t feel guilty.” He doesn’t seem to realize that I don’t really have a choice.
So I am going to wallow in my guilt for a little while. If the baby whimpers before nap time, I will snuggle him for two hours to try to make up for not feeding him enough. I will interject what a horrible mother I am into conversations–like “hi, Jane, I’m sorry about your dog dying, but I’m starving my son.”
I know it’s not all that healthy, but my mental pep talks aren’t working and I am really, deeply, worried and guilty over this. I predict that I will always wonder, at least a little bit, how this has affected him.
I will also try to shake it off–because, based on my experience so far, I’m sure I will do something else to feel guilty about soon enough. Parenting is not for the weak at heart.