MOM GUILT: A HARD INTRODUCTION
11.15pm. I’m watching Jane The Virgin. I’m convinced that the lead character (Jane, obviously) and I are more alike than I cared to admit in the past. I mean, we both like being in control, we’re both writers and we both have babies. Though she’s still a virgin and I’m…well my child was not conceived by accidental insemination or immaculate conception. Though she turned out pretty immaculate if you ask me.
Anyway, Gong is sound asleep in her room, and My Lover is enjoying a well-deserved night out, so I have a few rare hours of solitude. I used to dream of such moments when Gong was a few weeks old; how I’d spend them eating junk and watching movies, or reading in bed while eating junk, or even soaking in the bath – while eating junk. Now that I actually have it, all I can think of is how consumed with guilt I’ve been over the last two weeks.
It started with me going back to work proper. My maternity leave officially ended mid December, but it was slow and I didn’t have much to do so I was kind of pretend working. Now I’m working for real, and I have mixed emotions about it sometimes. After being at home with my baby for (many) months, I had this rather romantic idea of going back to work and being able to juggle career and motherhood in high heels and tight skirts with ease. But the truth is, the heels are killing me, the tight clothes suffocate me at times and it’s getting harder and harder to tear myself away from Gong every morning, especially now that she’s been having a bit of a hard time.
Last week we had our 27-week check-up. Everything was fine until we got home, and then it wasn’t. We were on the couch, nursing, and she suddenly started crying and wouldn’t stop. Then I noticed she was trying to poop but it seemed like she was struggling. Now because I’m immature, I thought the face she was making was really funny, so each time she’d make the face I’d laugh, and I couldn’t stop laughing. Now before you judge me, the face was also accompanied by what sounded like a low, primal growl, certainly not a sound I’d heard coming from my baby before. I mean, have you seen how cute she is? She sounded like a wild animal!
Kumbe my baby was in agony. It was taking so much effort for her to poop that she was covered in sweat, and ended up passing out after excreting the hardest turd I’d ever seen. I thought it was over, but it wasn’t. It happened three more times that day and again the next morning. Each time she had to poop, she cried in pain, and there was nothing I could do about it. We ended up back at the clinic. The doctor had to stick something up her bottom to help clear her tummy, insert a suppository and still put her on medicine.
Turns out the constipation was caused by an overenthusiastic response to her first taste of pureed banana and mango. This child has the appetite of a mjengo guy. The nanny fed her half a mango and a whole banana. And she finished it. Cleared her bowl. Please note that this is a child who has just been introduced to solids. She’s never even eaten a quarter banana.
I know none of this is my fault. That’s what my brain says. But I still feel like it is because I’m convinced it wouldn’t have happened if I’d been home to measure out the portion, instead of at work. My baby was literally full of shit because I was at work. She suffered because I was at work, and all I could do was hold her while she cried.
I wasn’t prepared for any of this. Add to that the fact that because I’m not breastfeeding as much as I used to since I got back to work, and I decided not to keep torturing myself with the pump, the 2ml of milk I had is slowly drying up. Now I’m worried that this work thing is getting in the way of me being the mom I want to be. Oh, and the other day she fell off the couch onto the rug while I was standing right next to her folding her towel after giving her a bath. It all happened so fast.
Many times I’ve wondered whether I would actually quit my job and be a stay at home mom. Many times my response has been a big, fat, no; because I need my job for money and the things it allows me to enjoy (food, help and home accessories top the list). Also the mental stimulation, I kind of like that. But you know what, with the guilt I’ve experienced these last few days, let’s just say that I wouldn’t be so quick to shut that down if it got to a point where I was convinced that I needed to be at home with my baby more.
Lots of people ask me what motherhood feels like. I keep saying it’s an experience and I don’t know what I’m doing. But today one very special person told me all that mattered was that I loved my baby. This mom guilt, it tells me that I do. Which is why I’m going to wait until end month to go to the salon, so that I can use that money to buy more formula. My baby is cute but greedy. Also, I spent the last of my money on a deposit for more shoes. My scalp is itching like a bitch, but we still have to look cute, right?