My Mom Guilt + Judgement, Turned into Empowerment
Looking back on my last 2 weeks of pregnancy, I see a lot of red flags. There was a huge change in my stress level, my body shifted quite drastically, I put on weight that wasn’t just “water”, and I just didn’t feel quite right.. Sure enough, 10 weeks before my due date, my water broke, and after attempting to stop labour, my beautiful, head-strong daughter was born. She fought hard, and came home with us 2 weeks before her due date. When she was in the NICU, I found myself experiencing mother guilt, and a lot of it. I felt horrible that I couldn’t hold my daughter in my womb like a mother should. I didn’t protect her for 40 weeks like a mother should. I didn’t get to take my brand new baby home to show my family like a mother should, instead my family got to know my baby through photos.
When we got home, my guilt turned to anxiety. I was no longer in the safety of the hospital walls. I was outside surrounded by germs, and judgement. In the NICU the only people who could judge you, were the nurses (and they were very good at it), but I knew they were only a temporary audience. Outside I am a mother in front of tons of family, friends, and strangers, all who have opinions, and advice to help my daughter catch up, or to force a transition that I wasn’t ready for. I shut myself and my daughter in my home, enjoying every quiet moment, cherishing every second I wasn’t being told what was best for her or how to parent, and in doing this, I learned how to not only be a NICU mom, but I also learned how to be a everyday mother!
When I finally realized that I didn’t fail Forrester by evicting her early, that I didn’t do her any harm, my mother’s guilt turned into mother’s empowerment! I finally gained the confidence to be vocal about my choices, and to not please others by bending my values. My daughter can wear pink, black, or blue, and she is still adorable. I can pump, breastfeed, and feed her formula, and know that she is fed. We can stay home, or enjoy the fresh air, and we still bonded. The great part about mother guilt, is when it passes, you see the little accomplishments that show your guilt is now irrelevant, and you feel so empowered because of those accomplishments. I’m no longer frustrated at those first judged weeks at home, I now understand the advice people give to new moms, and the love that doesn’t always show, but is most always behind it. I am thankful to call myself a mother, and even more-so, a GOOD mother.
To all the other moms who aren’t sure what to make of this mother guilt, or just the new mom time in general, its okay! You’re going to be joyful, annoyed, frustrated, and just overall emotional! Remember this little one is YOURS! Believe in yourself, no matter the circumstances of your birth, home life, family, or other relationships, you are a GOOD mother doing GOOD things!