I am Mom and I am Best Enough

Camden-Kiss

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Today’s Love Topic:

Let’s start a monthly tradition of having a love free-for-all topic! Post anything your heart desires about love next week. The only requisite is that you share your love with the rest of us.

 As a recent mama, everything is new to me. I’ve heard my girlfriends talk about the challenges and joys of motherhood, but until you experience it yourself you really don’t understand it. One of the lessons I have learned in my five weeks as a mother is the reality that many moms are plagued with guilt and pressure to live up to the golden standard of motherhood. It’s a sort of keeping-up-with-the-Jane’s-of our-society complex. Let me use my experience with breastfeeding as an example of mama’s guilt and pressure. Keep in mind, this topic transcends beyond breastfeeding and really can be inserted into anything related to motherhood.

This post is a lesson on self-love.

I consider myself a confident, independent woman. At 35 going on 36, I have established myself in my career all on my own and feel very proud of my accomplishments. You can say I have a strong female voice and I am not afraid to stand up for my beliefs. Yet, the moment I became a mother, my identity has been completely transformed and I now feel like I have to start developing a new voice. It’s as if I am starting from scratch. My experience with breastfeeding highlights my nascent mama’s voice.

Breastfeeding, although a natural part of motherhood, is not initially easy. In fact, for me it was very painful. Maybe it was the fact that at the hospital once your baby is born they simply hand you your child and tell you to feed him without anyone there to guide you. Or maybe it was because Camdie was born tongue-tied, which made it difficult for him to latch on. Or perhaps it was due to the fact that I was really exhausted and didn’t have the energy to begin to learn a new skill. Regardless of the reason, I attempted to breastfeed despite the immense pain I felt each time I tried to feed ShuGar Baby.

Now, I’ve discussed at length my difficult labor and post-delivery experience before, so you already have an idea of my state of mind at that time. Without going into too many of the gory details, I can say my nipples suffered tremendously, so much so that it was painful for me to see what had become of my body. I never knew something so natural could be so challenging. Nevertheless, I vowed to not give up easily and I persisted with breastfeeding because I wanted Camdie to receive the best nutrients from his mama. It hurt, but I love him more than the pain. He is worth it.

I am proud to say that after speaking with a lactation consultant, I have turned the corner with breastfeeding and can now feed him virtually pain-free. I’m glad I didn’t quit.

All was well until I tried the breast pump to train Camden to drink from a bottle, which contained my milk. Each and every attempt I made to pump my milk made me cry out of pain. My nipples once again began displaying the same physical symptoms as before because my body just didn’t like the pump. And, yes, I did try different sizes, but nothing seemed to work.  It’s as if my breasts were telling me to not allow a piece of plastic to touch them, but, instead, only permit Camden to suck them. I tried pumping again, but it hurt so much. I couldn’t even watch myself pumping because I cringed at the pain.

For those of you who may not understand why this is so painful for me to share, let me explain why pumping is so important. Unfortunately, and fortunately, I will be going back  to full time work in a few months. At that point, I was hoping to pump at work so that Camden Boy could continue to receive my milk. The only way to do that would be to pump 3-4 times daily. If I don’t pump, I will have to feed Camden formula and that was never my goal or my intention when I became a mother. In other words, I have had to face the reality that I will not be able to breastfeed Camden once I go to work, at least not the way I had planned to.

Why am I sad about this? Well, besides the fact that things have not gone according to plans, there is also mama’s guilt and pressure from society to breastfeed as long as you can. I feel guilty that I have not been able to power through the pain of pumping to guarantee that Mr. Camden gets my milk for as long as possible. Additionally, there is this sense in mommyland that you are a good mommy if you breastfeed and pump indefinitely.  Those women are the warrior mommies we all measure ourselves by. Truth be told, I cherish those breastfeeding moments with ShuGar Baby. It’s our special bonding time where we are together; he craves my milk and I desire to hold him close. I’ve grown very fond of our breastfeeding sessions.

If this had been something related to my career or frankly anything else, I would stand up for myself and not beat myself up about something I cannot control. However, this is about me being a mom and I have yet to establish my mama identity and voice. I still feel lost in mommyland. I cried about this for weeks because I realized I could not pump. I had to give up that dream. I also felt sorrow because I felt ashamed that I could not be one of those warrior mamas. I was disappointed with myself.

Isn’t it amazing how cruel we can be to ourselves?

My sadness persisted until I reached out to a few close mama friends about my breastfeeding dilemma. These friends all reiterated how mothers set unreasonable expectations on what constitutes a good mama which, inevitably, leads to disappointment. They also explained that I should not compare myself to anyone else. When it comes to motherhood, there is really no golden standard or ideal way of parenting. Finally, they told me I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. They said I am a great mama and I should be proud of that. They reminded me to show more self-love. I adore how one of my sweet friends told me to “f*ck the pump.” Another said her body hated pumping, too. Each girlfriend confessed to me that they eventually fed their babies formula and their children have grown up to be healthy.

These days, I have let go of the guilt and the unreasonable expectations of a breastfeeding mama. I will breastfeed as long as I am home, then transition Camden to be formula-fed. It’s not what I had envisioned, but I am doing what is best for myself and my baby. I am not perfect; I am a work in progress and I am a dedicated mom to a beautiful boy.

I am beginning to love my new mama self.

I dedicate this post to all those mama friends who reached out to me or who I sought solace in my time of desperation. You all know who you are. I love each and every one of you. Thank you for showing me the light and teaching me what being a good mama really looks like. You ladies have touched my heart. I am forever in your debt for giving me the strength to slowly find my mama’s voice.

I am Camden’s mom and I am best enough.

TODAY’S DISCUSSION TOPIC:

What was your experience with breastfeeding initially and over time? Have you ever felt any pressure and/or guilt to do something which society considers the golden standard for mamas? If you are not a mama, have you ever felt the pressure to live up to certain standards?

NEXT WEEK’S ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE PROJECT SUGGESTED TOPIC:

When it comes to love, there are different ways to demonstrate your devotion. Are you more of a doer or sayer? In other words, do you prefer to show your love in your daily actions or are you someone who likes to say it as much as you can? Share examples of your love style!

Interested in spreading more lovin’ today? You can linkup your love post below. Post a pic on facebook/instagram/twitter/google + about today’s love topic or anything that inspires your heart. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #allyouneedisloveproject so we can follow you! You can also post any lovely pins to the pinterest board All You Need is Love Project. {Newly added} Be part of love discussions with the All You Need is Love Project Facebook Group.

Join the love revolution below. Ready, set, love!

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Photo credit: Peter Shushtari

 

  • Camden is lucky to have such a wonderful and loving Mommy 🙂 I could never pump either! Those first weeks of breastfeeding were so hard, my toes would curl every time!

    • Thanks, sweet Kimberley! I really do appreciate that. Glad to hear I am not the only one averse to pumping and initially breastfeeding. No one really ever talks about how hard it initially is. It was so painful to watch myself go through it, but I’m glad I stuck with it.

  • Fatima Lora

    This is such an inspirational post for moms — regardless of their child(ren)’s age. I’m glad you were able to discuss this with your mommy friends. Too often we (women in general) set these expectations about what it means to be us that we forget we’re all individuals with our own life experiences.

    Breastfeeding was easier on me. It has been a pleasant experience, however during labor I felt everything you went through with breastfeeding. I thought I was strong enough to push my son without medication or anesthesia. I was wrong… and that really hurt me emotionally. I nearly cried the entire way to the operating room. The doctor felt sorry for me. I didn’t want a C-section, but it was necessary to have my son in my arms.

    These experiences are what build our personalities. We are who we are because of what we’ve been through.

    • Thanks so very much! I couldn’t agree more about the expectations we set for ourselves. It as if we are making us set up to fail. We need to support each other and our decisions because each mommy/baby is different. You are lucky that breastfeeding came easier to you.

      Yeah, I thought I could possibly do it without any meds during labor, but no way. I have heard similar experiences about having to have a c-section. You poor thing. You are right that they make us stronger and are our badges of honor. We become the best mommies for our babies. Hugs!

  • shy

    I had no success with breastfeeding or pumping. I had lost a lot of blood just after my daughter was born (issues with the placenta) and was anemic for the first several months of her life. I managed to get her to have the initial stages of my breast milk (the most important stage) but my milk just wouldn’t flow. She also would not latch up due to lack of milk flow.

    I was hard on myself too because most nurses were all pro-breast feeding. They pushed me to not give up ‘for the sake of my baby.’ I cried and was going through postpartum depression as well.

    Finally, I was so desperate that I called this service where the nurse would come visit new mom’s to guide them with any issues they were experiencing (part of why I love living in Canada as this is covered by our healthcare system).

    The nurse just looked at me and said that it’s not the end of the world if I choose to feed my baby formula. I had to, actually, because she would be malnourished if I didn’t but was still trying to pump so that she could have some of my breast milk.

    The nurse was very supportive. She was the first person who supported ME – not just the mother of a new born baby, but a person that needed rest, needed to recover from being anemic and really, needed to take care of myself so I could be there for my baby.

    She said, “Your health is important. If you are anemic and need even more so to sleep while your baby is sleeping, but are spending that time trying to unsuccessfully pump, how will you ever recover?” It was the most logical point ever. But a point that was lost through fatigue and so many sources of guilt-trips.

    After she left, I made a decision to give in to formula. My daughter is 10 now – she has turned out great.

    This lesson to love oneself did not stop there – it will continue with motherhood. I’m still struggling with the balance of making sure I’m taken care of because that makes me a better mother for my daughter. And better wife. These roles are full time jobs and the only payment we get is through the rewarding experience. But making sure we’re okay ourselves, is part of achieving those rewards, too. I’m getting better as I learn along the way.

    • So great to hear I am not the only one! I am so sorry to hear about your post-labor experience. Sounds very painful. Your experience I have heard other mamas have gone through as well. Some milk just doesn’t come in for some reason and it can be very upsetting. It is so frustrating when you just went through the most painful experience ever.

      Yup, you are describing what I went through. I cried so much those weeks after having baby. No one understood, except other mamas who suffered similarly. Learning to bf in the hospital was not pleasant because I just got so many mixed messages. Glad to hear you had a service to help you. Wish we had that in the States. I am happy to hear you were able to accept the formula route. That nurse sounds like an angel. It is so key when you said supporting “me” and not just a woman with a boob that has milk. You almost feel like a milk factory. And, your daughter is completely healthy so it worked out in the end. Why does society make us feel so guilty about formula?

      I kind of figured this lesson would be transferrable for all mommyworld. What you said is so true about caring for ourselves. We cannot care for others if we neglect our own well-being. I have to tell myself this because I feel guilty when I am not caring for the baby, answering emails, or even responding to this comment. I guess I am a work in progress. As always, thank you for sharing your heart!

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  • I just had baby #3 last month and he was the only one who was exclusively breastfed..my first didn’t want to latch and my second got thrush about a few months into it. This little fat man loves to eat thats for sure!

    • Ha! That’s funny, Crista. I guess every baby/pregnancy is different. You never really know what will work out or not. Thank you for sharing!

  • Julie

    I nursed Katie until she was 11 months old since I was pregnant at the time and Sophia would be born in 5 months. I pumped with Katie, but I couldn’t get her to take a bottle. I either used breastmilk or formula when I made rice cereal.

    With Sophia, I nursed her for 6 weeks, because at that time, I found out she was allergic to something that I was eating. She had a rash all over her. We ended up feeding her soy formula and cleared up the rash.

    • Wow…each baby is different. Amazing that you bf for 11 months. I admire that. I too was allergic to milk and my mom ended up giving me soy formula. We are told formula is the worst thing to give your baby, but I think that every baby can be given different nutrients depending on his/her own circumstances. Thank you for sharing with me!

      • Julie

        You’re welcome! If I had a choice between nursing and bottle, I’d choose nursing (as long as the baby isn’t allergic to milk). But I know that formula is still a good choice. They put so many nutrients in the formula that it is similar to mama’s milk.

  • It must have been stressful for you Carmen to feel pain while you are trying to do the best for your baby. I have felt preassured by other moms who felt they knew better than I did when I had my son. Especially because I have always looked younger than my age, people felt like they had to school me on many things. In the end I figured out that I had to trust my gut! You will always know better what works for your baby regardeless what anyone says. As long as you trust that, you will never go wrong…..Really! Make your own Golden Standard, haha. I breast fed up to 8 months, and went back to work after one month. I know the feeling of trying to be the best Mom and not measuring up to other’s standards very well. Happy you found your mama voice!

    xoxo,
    Tania

    • Thanks so very much, Tania! Everything you said is so true. We have to make our own standards and stop trying to measure up to others. Oh, I can relate to others telling you what is best. Even our moms try to tell you what they did with you, but many times it doesn’t transfer over. Every baby is different. I think I am still forming my mama’s voice, but I have more hope now that i have made this decision about breastfeeding. I cried for some time, but I have accepted that some things I cannot control. The important thing is to be kind to myself so that I can love my baby.

    • Wonderful! I enjoyed the post. Welcome to the project! We love having you =)

  • I appreciate your frankness in all of this. I also experienced a lot of trouble nursing, especially in the first week. I remember one night in the hospital spending the entire 2:00AM hour trying to get him to latch. I ended up calling the nurse after an hour and he latched right away with her help, but I felt so anxious that I couldn’t do it on my own, especially knowing I would be discharged the next morning.
    Now, we’re still mostly using a shield, and I feel guilty because I don’t think my little man truly needs it, but I’m using it as a crutch because I’m too exhausted to put in the effort to completely wean off of it. And pumping, who has time for that?! When he sleeps, I need to sleep or eat or write thank you notes…
    I love my little boy so much, but I know the exhaustion has made it difficult to keep my preivous pace of life. My priorities much more primal and I too, want to be as perfect as possible. But you’re right, we have to forgive ourselves. We can’t let our guilt get in the way because life will go on, and little Camden has exactly what he truly needs: a mommy and daddy that love him!

    I’m sorry I’ve been gone from blogging for so long but I love seeing your little boy on Instagram! I’ve missed you!
    xo kristen genevieve

    • Thanks, Kristen. I just wanted to put it all out there. I have thought about you a lot and wondered how you are coping with motherhood. Sounds like you too had bf struggles, which apparently is very, very common. We probably could deal with it better if we were not going on lack of sleep and having gone through labor just before all of this transition.

      The hospital was going to offer me a shield, but turns out I didn’t need it. Camdie was born tongue-tied which explained why he was having problems latching and it was so painful for me. The guilt is very rampant and apparently very common. You are doing great, mama. You are feeding your little boy the best way you can. Don’t forget that.

      I don’t know who has time for pumping but they told me since I was going to go back to work, I’d have to introduce the bottle soon. I tried several times to pump and hated it. My body cringed each time. I have accepted the fact that I will have to introduce formula once i go back to work. It is what it is and I am fine with that now. Still makes me sad, though. Not exactly how I had planned it.

      I don’t have time to do anything anymore! You are not alone! Only when my mom is around can I do some things for short periods of time.

      I too love my baby so much. The love is immense, right? I love that you said the priorities are more primal. Yes! If I can take a shower and eat, I feel like I have had a good day.

      We have to be more loving and forgiving of ourselves. We are going through a lot and we need to love ourselves.

      Please don’t apologize for being gone from blogging land. We will all be here when you return. Take the time you need to be a mommy. All else will fall into place. It’s nice to connect on instagram for the time being! Sending you lots of hugs and love!

  • Oh I love your honesty in this post Carmen.
    I didn’t breastfeed my first daughter and she was always sick, I always blamed myself for that. So, with my second daughter I decided to breast feed and it worked out great actually.. My body could handle it when she latched on and while I pumped. I really enjoyed it. I could tell a huge difference between my first daughter and second daughter as far as health goes so I decided to breastfeed again with my son. It was the most painful thing I have ever gone through. I didn’t feel connected to him as he latched on and I would cry every time I had to pump for him.. but I pushed myself to do it because I couldn’t live with the fact that I didn’t sacrifice the pain for my son’s health. It was very depressing and he wasn’t enjoying it either so I finally decided to start formula with him. I was really upset about it, but as I spoke to the doctor I realized that it was the right thing to do. Every child is different and you have to be happy in order for your child to be happy because they can feel everything you feel, especially while breastfeeding. I’m always wishing you the best. You’re a beautiful Mother! xxo

    • Thanks, sweet Kristy! I wrote from my heart.

      Interesting about your two breastfeeding experiences. That’s good to know. I have heard a lot about the health benefits. Oh, pumping hurt so much for me. I’m sorry you had to go through that pain with your son. You are a warrior mama! I will be introducing formula and I have accepted that it is ok. We have to let go of controlling things and accept that our babies will be ok regardless.

      Yes, each baby is different and we mamas have to be flexible. I have heard that they feel what we feel and that has scared me because I have had baby blues. I am better, but the transition hasn’t been easy. It is true that we need to be happy so that our babies can also be happy. Ah, must remember this one!

      I too wish you the best. I think you are so lovely and I admire you very, very much. Sending you love!

  • A year ago, if you had asked me if I wanted to be a mother someday, maybe I would have said no. Today things are different, I see my friends around enjoying this new phase and I am starting to feel something strange inside me. I have not made ​​a decision yet, but the thought is there for some reason, maybe is seeing my friends go through this and feeling different to them? I do not know. So with so much clutter in my head, I really appreciate reading articles like yours, not just because they show a real and honest perceptive of motherhood but also because they make me think about how much we try to hide insecurities and problems for fear of being judged or look different from the others. This happens not only with motherhood, but in many other areas of our lives, with our husbands, at work, with family, with friends. We can not be perfect all the time, who is?

    I often wake up and do not feel like doing my hair, and that’s good, sometimes I don’t want to take care of my nephews because I rather go to the nails salon and that’s fine too, sometimes I do not want to have dinner with my friends because I’d rather spend the night with my husband, and that’s fine as well. None of this things define who we are and/or minimizes the love we have for what we do and the people we love .

    • Isn’t it amazing how we change over time? I never thought I would be a mom. Ever. Falling in love with Mr. ShuGar changed my mind. Take your time because it is definitely a big life choice, but it’s good to explore your options if you are contemplating it.

      Motherhood is the greatest and most challenging experience of my life. It is a bunch of extremes, but mainly it is filled with so much love. More than I could have ever imagined.

      Thank you for reading and supporting my honestly. I wasn’t sure how people would accept this since it is very raw. I don’t care what others think in the end since this is my truth. It happens completely separate from motherhood, too. Who can be perfect anyways? Who wants to be, too?

      I have had many of those kind of days. It’s hard when sometimes I don’t want to get out of my pjs. We define ourselves and not what others see of us or what society says we should be like. Ultimately, loving ourselves is the most important lesson I have learned because only then can you truly accept love from another. Thanks for sharing, sweet Elba!

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