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Friday Reflections

After reading the CNN iReport on "The Unnatural Mom," I was taken back 19 months to that day in the hospital when, with tears streaming down my face, I gave consent to the attending doctors to inject me with pitocin and give me an epidural.  Maybe it was all of those crazy hormones surging through me, or perhaps the hours of unrelenting contractions and sleeplessness, but I felt like I had done my unborn baby the biggest disservice ever.  Guilt flooded my heart and mind, and I was grief-stricken over my choices.

I, too, had somehow bought into the whole "natural mama" mentality, and though in many ways it empowered me to look at birth as a beautiful and natural process, it also biased my preferences in a way that didn't allow a lot of wiggle room for when things went sideways (which it inevitably did, in my case).

And, like the author of the CNN piece, my guilt stayed with me for months, and was compounded by my breastfeeding trials.  I felt like I was letting my little baby down again every time she cried from hunger or latching frustrations, or I had to give her an artificial formula in place of the milk that she should have been drinking from my bosom.  My horrible tendonitis in both hands made it painful to pick her up and hold her for prolonged periods of time, and this too added to my already-heavy heart; I was failing my baby girl yet again. 

Sure, there were moments of clarity and reprieve from this guilt, but the clouds hung gray and heavy for many months, and as I watched the moon glow against the black canvas of night, many tears rolled off my face and onto the sleeping babe in my sling-bandaged arms.

I'm not entirely certain when I finally emerged from those darker places, and whether this coincided with my getting more sleep or having my hormones return to normal levels.  I just know that eventually there was sunshine again, and I could breathe more normally, laugh more authentically, and release that heavy sack hanging on my heart.  Praise be, for it was He who delivered me.

And now, as I laugh and play with my very healthy, very happy Little Loquacious, I can look back at that time with bemusement.  Was that really me? Did I really get that worked up over that? And if I would have been blessed at that time in the valley with a vision of how we are today, having tea with stuffies, and breastfeeding as she stands in her crib, and chasing pigeons in the park, would things have been different? Would I have been able to release that guilt, that poisonous thinking that tainted all of my early interactions with my precious baby, and would I have been more free to fully enjoy the delight of becoming a mommy?

I guess I will never know, because those first tender moments of motherhood have passed.  Although maybe I would have done things differently if I could go back in time, there is an equal likelihood that I wouldn't change a thing.  Despite buying into that "natural mama" perspective in its extreme, and traveling through a very dark place as a result, I think it has strengthened me and brought me to a far healthier and more liberated space - one where I don't give a rip what anyone else says or thinks or judges about my parenting choices, but am free to make the best decisions that I can for my little girl. Rather than adhere so tightly to just one parenting philosophy, I feel as though I now have the confidence to forge my own road as a mother, and live in peace with my choices, wherever they fall on a spectrum (and that usually is along an attached parenting model, but not always).  In hindsight, I suspect that my uncertainties about motherhood in general compelled me to cling onto something that seemed legitimate and effective and "right" at the time.  Those I spoke with in that season of life seemed to be huge "crunchy" natural birth advocates, too, so naturally I found myself aligning with their views; they knew more about birth than I did, and they were very passionate in their opinions and perspectives.  Over time, however, as I've researched and read more, I think my views have tempered a bit, and probably fall a bit closer to the middle than they did previously.  And since I no longer feel like I have to make apologies for how I raise Little L, parenting has become a far more blessed, happy event.

If you haven't already, won't you join me in this liberated space?


Bravo! Absolutely stunning post. I want every expecting and new mother to read this! I just absolutely adore you Mrs L and am so thankful I get to share this wild parenting ride with you! Thank you. Xx
Mrs. Loquacious said… you too April! If you were closer we'd have a crazy playdate with my DD and your Ollie! :)
Sharon said…
I totally know what you mean. But with friends like you in my life who willingly shared experiences and wisdom, it helped newbies like us navigate and experience infancy a little bit easier. So thanks for sharing!

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