Feeling like a mommy failure

Sophie had a rough few days, and the solution to the problem wasn't exactly what Katie had planned.

Little Sophie. Photo courtesy of Katie Dupuis.

I never used to be a crier. Not really, anyway. I could watch a back-to-back line-up of Steel Magnolias, The Notebook and The Way We Were with only minimal waterworks (I’m not without a soul, after all. And if you don’t let a single tear slip over Julia Roberts dying and leaving her son behind, I’m not sure we can be friends). But that said, with the arrival of Miss Sophie came the arrival of my new life as a crybaby. Motherhood has made me a mushball. We’re not just talking about movies, either (though I did see Titanic in 3D as an homage to my 14-year-old self and sobbed through the last hour). Yesterday was Exhibit A.

We had a bit of a rough weekend with our girl. No matter what we did, we couldn’t seem to keep her full. I felt like I spent all day Sunday breastfeeding (honestly, I sat on the couch topless for most of the day) and she was never really satisfied. She’d sleep for only a few hours at a time, when she’s usually a great sleeper, and when she woke up, she was ravenous. We started her on rice cereal a couple of weeks ago, too, and even upping the cereal amount didn’t seem to do it for her. I was beside myself by Sunday night and called first thing Monday morning for an appointment with her paediatrician.

Soph’s doctor is great. He calls her ‘cuteness’ or ‘little chicken’ and I find that endearing. He’s kind to her mom, too — even when she asks stupid questions or needs more explanation. So when he suggested today, after weighing Miss Sophie and finding she hadn’t gained much this month, that we supplement with formula, I trusted him. I clutched, knowing the benefit of breast milk and my plan to nurse her for the first year, and nearly teared up in the exam room. He must have seen it on my face, and he quickly said “You can still nurse her a few times a day. It’s just a supplement. She isn’t getting enough calories, and we need to see her put on a little more weight.” Of course I understand. I also know that I’ve already tried a bunch of things to increase my milk supply, and if I still can’t give her enough, it’s time for a little extra help. I don’t want my baby to be hungry. Bottom line.

But logic aside, I still cried all the way home. Partly for not being able to follow through on my plan, yes, but also because my daughter was essentially hungry for a couple of days and I didn’t really mitigate that for her. I thought back to every frustrating moment of the weekend, when she wouldn’t close her eyes for longer than an hour, and felt bad. It did cross my mind then that maybe I didn’t have enough milk for her, but I’m stubborn and just ran out for some more fenugreek instead. I feel like those superhero mommy instincts should have kicked in, and they didn’t. Not really. Newbie mistakes, I guess. No one’s winning Rookie of the Year in this house, let me tell you.

I keep telling myself that it’s okay to make mistakes, that if we are blessed with a second baby, I’ll know better in this same situation and save myself a trip to the paediatrician. I just feel bad that Soph gets the brunt of the trial and error. As well as the brunt of her crybaby mommy who couldn’t get it together. No sad movies for a while, I’ve decided. On top of the mommy setbacks, I’ll end up dehydrated.

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