Friday, May 3, 2013

no such thing as perfect


Guilt was one of the first feelings I experienced upon learning I was pregnant with my daughter, now 4 years old.

I had been on a pub crawl the night before, gotten home around 2 am and woke up a few hours later miserably sick. This might seem to be expected after a night out on the town, but had gone to bed sober and hadn't drank that much. I had taken a pregnancy test a few weeks earlier, prompted more by nausea and fatigue than a missed period as stress-induced amenorrhea was not new to me. It was negative.

That morning, not able to shake the fact there was something very wrong, I took a (second) pregnancy test. Positive. I took another. Positive. I took a another. (still) Positive.

Pregnant, drinking, not taking folic acid, and ignoring what my body had been telling me for weeks- which was Have Some More Water. Now Pee. Nap! Eat Some More Bread. I thought about my booze-soaked "intern week", which must have occurred right after I got pregnant.

I was already failing motherhood. It became a recurrent sentiment in my daughter's first year of life. Breastfeeding and pumping were more difficult than I had predicted. We used store bought formula and baby food. She develop a taste for Mac N Cheese. As a resident, I didn't know our pediatrician.

A few years passed. I did some growing.

I have a good friend, an ivy-league educated attorney, who wants nothing more than to home school her children. I have another friend who posts on her FB page links to articles about the treacherous and unregulated world of daycare (the most recent was about a home daycare that burned down) or an admonition to her baby group that, really, if breast feeding was that hard our species would have died out eons ago. These are both woman I like and respective very much.

In my first year of motherhood, these things would have bothered me. Why didn't I want to home school? (And believe me, I don't.) Am I putting my children at risk in daycare? Is my daughter going to be fat, sick, and anti-social because I didn't BF for 12 months? Was she already missing out on activities that would prove pivotal to her future success because I wasn't around to shuttle her from one to the other?

of course not

It took some time to become comfortable in motherhood, which itself has been the most intense and important undertaking in my life. That being said, I've come to realize that, for me, the Perfect Mom is not the Total Mom. I don't have a cohesive philosophy on motherhood save that the vast majority of us seem to be trying as best we can, and how we implement our universally-held good intentions is both personal and family-specific. In regards to home schooling, prolonged BF-ing, nanny-care, organicthisthatandtheother, epidurals, music appreciation class - they are all part of a decision making process that is individual to your family and lacking in any specific moral imperative.

For me and my family, its best that I work. Aside from the obvious financial implications, work is good for me. I enjoy what I do and I choose to believe my children benefit from having a mother who feels this way about her vocation, even if it means daycare and formula and dinners on-the-fly.

I am not perfect. I get cranky, irritable, and short with people, some of them my offspring, who deserve my patience. I don't think this makes me a bad mom, I think it makes me a human being. I gave up perfect a long time ago.

Although, all things being equal, I wish I hadn't drank during the first few weeks of my pregnancy...

1 comment:

  1. I remember when I learned I was pregnant with C (I was trying) I counted the days to try to figure out if she was implanted yet when I last drank. It was fuzzy math. Then with Jack a high risk OB (I was not high risk) told a friend of mine to have up to two glasses of wine starting in second trimester - enjoy her trip to Costa Rica. So I enjoyed my trip to New York, when he was 16 weeks. Not a bottle, but a glass or two with dinner. I wasn't quite showing yet so didn't draw stares in restaurants.

    I was at a baby shower for a physician mom friend once and the mother in law spoke of drinking relatively heavily through her pregnancy and smoke breaks in labor and my how things were so different back then! Indeed. My friend's husband was intelligent and healthy.

    I remember a friend with twins had a "nurse coach" come live with her for a few weeks to help her establish routine and breastfeed. She recommended Guinness when the milk wouldn't come in. Not 10, just a half or one, but still. Said it helped to relax myoepithelial cells and encourage letdown. I tried it a time or two in desperation and wow. I was like a freaking fountain.

    The cult of the Total Mom is just too freaking much, I agree.

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