Posted by: thughesa | June 14, 2010

A Real Mom



For the longest time I felt like an impostor.  When I looked at other mothers they all seemed more together, more informed, more reliable, and more committed.  I didn’t feel like a real mommy.  It was still the same old me, except I was scrambling to figure out nursing, attempting and failing to make edible baby food, all the while trying to make it look like I wasn’t trying at all.

I think it started in the hospital with my first baby.  The nurses were awful and made me feel like I was a neglectful mother because I wanted to give my screaming ten pound baby formula.  She was starving and was not going to be alright for three or four days while my milk came in.  My milk never did come easily and we struggled for months with pumping, drugs, nipple shields, and bottles.  When she was four months old I stopped taking the Domperidone my doctor had prescribed to help with my milk production.  I had hoped my body would take over and produce the milk on its own.  I was wrong.  My milk supply quickly dwindled and I was wracked with guilt.  I felt that if I wasn’t able to nurse my child I was a failure.

My baby finally made the decision for me.  After months of switching between the breast and the bottle she finally chose the bottle.  This both relieved and depressed me.  I was happy to switch to formula as her primary source of milk, it was a relief.  However, I couldn’t help but feel that I had somehow failed her and her preferring the bottle to the breast was indicative of just what a terrible mother I really was.

With my second baby I was ready. I had been drinking fenugreek and fennel tea and had my industrial pump on standby.  I was determined to only breastfeed, thinking that if I kept offering the breast, even if there was no milk, it would stimulate my milk production.  After a couple of weeks her weight wasn’t coming up, I simply could not produce enough milk for my child on my own. Coming to this realization was an eye opener.  It wasn’t just my poor mothering skills that affected my ability to nurse my first child, it was my biology.

About a year ago I confessed to one of my real mommy friends how I felt. That I didn’t feel like a real mother and I imagined people like her really had it together.  She was quiet for a minute and then confessed that she felt the same. She said she had wished she were a real mother like me.  I was stunned and started to cry. I had never felt so honored, relieved, and surprised all at the same time. The fact that someone else felt the same and actually thought I was a real mom was life changing.

So, if any you feel the same, take a look around at your mommy friends.  There is at least one of them who feels the same and looks at you in a way you would have never imagined.

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