Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Perfect Mother Syndrome

This morning I realised I was suffering from PMS - perfect mother syndrome. As the saying goes, there's no way to be a perfect Mother but a million ways to be a good one!
Things came to a head on Saturday afternoon when my husband came home from doing the groceries to find me still sitting in the feeding chair with tears streaming down my face. I had been feeding and trying to settle Sticky for 1.5 hours. Her and I were both hysterical and my husband said enough was enough. He made me promise that from now on I would only feed for an hour max and give her formula if needed.

I had still been struggling with giving her formula, believing it somehow made me a less than perfect mother. But, as my husband said, it takes more than breastfeeding to be a good mother. I realised I had been focussing on all my perceived weaknesses and faults instead of my strengths.

This was confirmed at my check up with the obstetrician yesterday. He doesn't normally do a follow up until 6 weeks but wanted to see me earlier to check how I was coping and to make sure my pre-natal depression hadn't turn into post-natal depression. I told him we had to give her formula because my milk supply just couldn't keep up with her demand. I told him I was doing better now we didn't let her get so hysterical so I felt like I was coping better. He reassured me I was doing all the right things.

I'm so glad I went and saw him because managing the depression hadn't even entered my head. He said the top 3 contributors to post-natal depression were a crying baby, exhaustion and sleeplessness. We've worked out that Sticky only cries if she's hungry or unsettled so giving her a bottle seems to cure that. I can't do much about her being unsettled and not sleeping, but I can respond flexibly and try to stick to our routine where I can. After sticking to the routine over the last few days, I've noticed both of us are much more settled.

When I stop to think about my strengths, I can congratulate myself for just getting up and showering every morning. I've paid the bills on time and sorted out all the post-baby administration. I've sat down and eaten 3 meals a day. I've made sure I take 10 minutes for myself to sit and enjoy my daily coffee. I shower my daughter with hugs and kisses and respond to her cries. Overall, I'm doing pretty well.

At the end of the day, I'm quite sure if I asked Sticky if she would prefer more breast milk and a stressed out and depressed mother, or formula and a calm mother, she'd choose option b. I realise this image of perfection in my head does not exist. My successes are simply the things I'm doing to be a good Mum and that's all I need to do. And, given Sticky has put on 260grams in 3 days and is now past her birth weight,  I'm doing everything right to help my daughter grow. And right now, that's all I need to do and clearly I'm doing it well! 

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