Something’s been bothering me for a while and I need to get it off my chest. As a new Mummy I’m trying to do the best that I can for my little boy. He’s doing fabulously well, he’s growing at an alarming rate rapidly growing out of his 3-6 month old clothes, he’s a happy little chap who’s always got a smile for his Mummy and Daddy and everyone else who smiles his way. He’s a fantastic sleeper, he’s coming on leaps and bounds developmentally and I’m sure he’s said “Mumma” once or twice this week (it definitely sounds like mumma but who knows if he actually meant to say mum) so why, sometimes do I feel like such a bad Mummy.
I’m getting really annoyed with the overwhelming pressure from other people, organisations and the Government that I’m a bad Mummy making poor choices for my son. Why do I feel like this? Let me explain…
Breastfeeding versus Formula Feeding
Ever since I found out I was pregnant I always wanted to breastfeed my baby. Unfortunately for me this didn’t happen. He latched on in hospital for his first ever feed but that was it, I breastfeed my baby boy for a pathetic 20 minutes. It wasn’t for the lack of trying but he just wouldn’t latch on again. He wasn’t interested. I should of persevered but I was too tired, I was in pain and uncomfortable and I was numb in parts of my body from the neck down for a good 12 hours post section. I was under pressure to feed my baby whether it was the good stuff or the artificial stuff. Yes, I know he got the good stuff initially and I’m so glad he did. He had his first few mouthfuls of colostrum but the guilt I feel for not trying hard enough to breastfeed my baby is overwhelming. A visit to the baby clinic reminds me I’m not good enough with the posters on the wall, the signs on the shelves that the British Government recommend breastfeeding for the first 6 months of a babies life and the artificial stuff you’re about to buy to feed your baby is not recommended. So yes, I’m a bad mummy that I feed my baby formula. I’m such a bad mummy that he’s happily sitting on the 50 centile line for his weight at 23 weeks and I’m such a bad mummy that my Son will happily drink ready made ‘off the shelf’ formula when he’s hungry. I could rant all day long on this subject but I know nothing will ever change. The pro-breastfeeders will tell me I didn’t try hard enough and that I should of asked for support. I did. I asked my midwife for help and she gave me a phone number! I was too ashamed to call to admit that I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t breastfeed my son and I felt like a failure. There have been lots of tears and no matter how much people tell me to look at how happy Little Mr is today doesn’t take away the guilt I feel for not trying harder to breastfeed my baby.
Weaning: Baby Led or not?
I asked a few weeks back about advice on weaning and I was overwhelmed with the advice. Thank you if you left me a comment, I read them all, read quite a few blog posts on the subject and decided to go with my heart and wait until Little Mr showed me some signs that he was ready. I’ve just begun to feed him his first tastes of puree, yes puree from a well known baby foods brand, not chunks of carrot, mango or banana and already I’ve faced some backlash about baby led weaning and feeding my baby crap from a carton. Little Mr isn’t a hungry baby. He rarely cries for his bottle and although he has begun to watch us eat our dinner he doesn’t reach out for it. My initial concerns for starting baby led weaning for Little Mr is that as a baby how does he know he can chomp and break foods down with his gums when he’s only used to liquid. I don’t want him to get a bit carried away and take too much in his mouth and choke so I’m going to be feeding him puree. It’s my decision supported by my husband and we feel it’s right for our son. Add to that, we’re also taking advantage of the baby foods on offer in the supermarkets full of wonderful flavours that we can try with Little Mr. In the next few weeks I do want to start making my own but for now, I’m very happy to use the wealth of choice as offered by Heinz, Plum Baby, Hipp Organic and Ella’s Kitchen. So yes, I’m a bad mummy for not making my own purees and for not choosing to wean my baby like others do but I’m happy that we’ve chosen what is right for Little Mr and no amount of opinionated tweets is going to change that.
To be a stay at home mum or not?
Let’s set the record straight. In an ideal world and if we could afford it, I would love be a stay at home Mum and look after my Son myself. It breaks my heart to think that I’m going to have to go back to work at some point and leave my Son with family to care for him all day. Financially, we are not in a position for me to do that and so towards the end of the year I’ll be going back to my role in Human Resources and getting back on the payroll.
A lot changes when you’re pregnant and when you become a parent. I very naively believed that I would be absolutely fine leaving our baby with my in-laws and my Mom once a week but do you know what, I don’t want to. It’s not that I don’t trust them, I do whole heartedly. I believe they’ll look after him and take care of him the way that we ask them to but I just want to do it myself. I want to be the one that feeds him his lunch and see him playing nicely with his toys encouraging him to say his first words or to be there when he does something monumental like beginning to crawl or walk. I want to be able to take my son to playgroup and for him to get to know other children his age and for me to find and build new friendships with other local mums. I want to be able to carry on taking him swimming during the week or up to the library for messy play and be able to take him to exciting PR events that only ever happen during the week and in London (okay, that’s selfish of me but I know I won’t be able to do that once I’m back at work!)
I really enjoy my work in HR, I’ve worked incredibly hard to get to where I am and I enjoy having a teeny bit of money each month to call my own but if we didn’t need me to go back to work to pay off our student debts or for us to live comfortably, I’d stay at home in a heartbeat. I actually feel guilty for knowing full well that we couldn’t afford for me to stay off work for too long once Little Mr had come along. We knew we wouldn’t be able to afford childcare so enlisted the help of our families before we got pregnant but now I feel selfish for doing so. I often have a rant if I see those awful television shows with parents with ten kids on living off benefits, shouting if you couldn’t afford ten kids why have them? Am I just as bad or is our situation entirely different? I can’t afford not to work, we only get child benefit as a hand out from the government but am I just the same as them? Bad Mummy alert (again!)
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure at some point there’ll come a time where I will want to be at work and engage in adult conversation (said very much tongue in cheek) and give myself a proper challenge but at the moment I’m happy to enjoy my maternity leave, watch my little boy amaze me on a daily basis whilst feeding him shop bought puree and giving him his milk from a bottle. Am I a bad Mummy? If you believed the hype and controversy about all the topics I’ve mentioned above some would probably say yes but I know how much I love my Son and how much I want the best for him and if I have to formula feed him to make him grow up strong, I’ll do it, if I feed him puree to begin our weaning journey, I’ll do it and if I go back to work to pay off our debt and so we can afford to buy him nice clothes, the occasional treat and take him on family days out then I’m going to do it. Whether you think I’m a bad Mummy or good Mummy I don’t care! As long as my Little Mr is happy and healthy that is all that matters to me, his Mummy.
Sorry for the rant. Do you feel the pressure too or do you just ignore it?
Edit – I don’t want to antagonise people with this post, nor am I trying to stir reaction either way. I’m just expressing how I’ve been made to feel. I do believe every parent should make their own choice for their children to suit their own needs and way of life. I’ve changed the title of this post from debate to discussion as it was not my intent to fuel any fires and would like to apologise to anyone who thinks this may have come across as a fire starter!