I never fancied myself an attachment parenter.  I pushed my baby in a stroller.  Made her sleep in her own room.  Let her cry it out at night.

Because that’s what you’re supposed to do.  It was hard at times, but parenting is supposed to be hard.  And I have a healthy, {mostly} well-adjusted toddler to show for it.  And that’s what matters, right?

But is that all that matters?

Does it matter that every day I am haunted by the guilt that I should’ve done things differently?  That when I lay down every night my heart aches to be with her? 

Having been cut from my belly 6 weeks too soon, she was rushed to the NICU before I could hold her.  For 12 days, I was only able to hold my new baby for short periods of time in the discomfort of the NICU, tethered to machines, juggling tubes and wires.

I’m very grateful for the existence of modern medicine that fed my baby when she could not suck and alerted us when she forgot to breathe, but the experience left me with a void.

I became extremely protective of my little girl.  I didn’t want to share her.  I needed to nurture her.  And when I couldn’t, I was lost.  And I felt like a failure.

Two years later and I still have those feelings.  

Since my return to the work-force, that need is even stronger.  So strong that I’ve neglected myself in order to spend every possible moment with her.

And while I still have vague memories of wanting to pull my hair out after a long day at home with the baby, I find it difficult to push away the thoughts of everything I’m missing by not being home with her.

There is so much I would love to tell pre-baby me.  Maybe if I had done things differently….


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9 Responses to Regrets

  1. Melissa says:

    I think you summed up the guilt many of us moms feel (shoot, my PYHO post is all about mommy guilt…)

    I could tell, though, from your post, that you love your little girl very much and that really matters!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. JDaniel4's Mom says:

    There is so much I wish I had known too.

  3. diane rene says:

    jumping over from PYHO …

    we can lose so much time focusing on what we could have done differently – the time we thought they had colic but it was the flu … the time we let her cry it out thinking she’d fall back to sleep only to walk in and find her in the middle of a diaper that exploded – there will ALWAYS be those moments.
    all we can do is take from it what we’ve learned, let it go, and focus on the right here, right now. give her the extra cuddle time, read her the story one more time, and tell her you love her, each and every day :)

  4. Jessica says:

    I think Mama guilt is something every mom struggles with. I know what your saying–my youngest was in the NICU for 10 days. Its so hard having them immediately taken from you without that chance to bond.

    I do think its important to take a little bit of time for yourself. I used to have a lot of guilt over that but I realized how much better of a mom it makes me. Even if its just an hour at Starbucks while Daddy watches her. It will help–I swear!

  5. Shell says:

    I do think we all deal with this.

    There’s always something we could have done differently. Always something that I’ll question myself on.

    Trying to figure out how to let that go. Though I think if any of us is truly able to figure out that secret, that mama will be a millionaire.

  6. Oh, hon. I know exactly how you feel, but without the NICU part. I wish I had had a chance to be home with our girls for more than maternity leave. I feel guilty all the time for not being home with them. It gets better for awhile, then worse. Hugs!

  7. Emily says:

    Hi, I’m glad to find your blog :) There is SO SO SO much I wish I had known and had done differently. I was such an unprepared parent….as was my husband. But my sweet little baby boy has survived….he is smart, seems to be well adjusted and has the sweetest smile in the world….so this makes me think I must have done something right :)

    • Jen says:

      Thank you! I know that as parents, we all do the best we can at that moment and most of our kids will turn out okay in the end. But it’s still hard.

  8. Tamika says:

    We as mums always find something to guilt about. I AM an AP parent – baby wore, breastfed, co-slept – the whole bit. It worked for me. BUT! I still feel guilt because I had 3 babes in 3yrs. So I booted out babe #1 for 2, and 2 for 3 in that sling….and off the boob, and out of the bed….I always feel that babe 2 got slighted the most. He s 7 – and I still feel guilt at times. HUGS! No matter what, who, or how you parent, you’ll always find something you wish you had done differently.