How Making Mom Friends Helped Me Forgive Myself After Struggling With Severe Guilt
When I had my daughter, I was so excited to breastfeed (due to medical reasons, I was unable to do so with my first child). We started off fantastic — milk coming in strong and fast and little miss was putting on weight. At her eight-week appointment, she weighed in at 10 pounds. A week later, my period returned, and while I didn't see a massive change to the way my daughter was feeding, over the next few weeks, it didn't seem as though she was putting on weight. The first time I discussed the issue was with my parents. While holding her, my dad commented on how light she was. When I mentioned that I was actually worried that she wasn't gaining weight like she should be, my well-meaning mother brushed it aside. "She is just petite," she said. "She wouldn't be sleeping through the night if she was hungry." I don't like to admit it, but I listened to those comments over my own mother's intuition.
As we were approaching the four-month mark, her sleeping pattern changed, and I started getting concerned. My biggest worry was that not only did she appear to not be gaining weight, but it also looked like she was losing it. At this point, I had raised my concerns with several family members, and I kept getting the same responses. Both my mother and mother-in-law, in trying to ease my fear, would tell me things like, "She has just gotten taller" and "You were the same way." This time, though, I wasn't so sure they were right — so naturally, I did what all mothers do, and I turned to Google.
Realizing that I was concerned enough to be searching for answers, I stopped googling and called my maternal health nurse to request an appointment as soon as possible. When we went the next day, I was shocked to see that my daughter no longer weighed 10 pounds but had dropped down to 9 pounds. I immediately saw the concern on the health nurse's face, and rightfully so; at 4 months old, my daughter weighed less than some newborns.
My daughter did not show any of the typical hunger signs. There was no screaming to be fed or wanting to feed more often. She wasn't rooting or licking her lips. It was almost as if she had resigned herself to the fact that there wasn't any more food once she drained my supply. So as a result, I had unknowingly starved my baby girl. Had I not paid attention to my mom instincts, I hate to think of what could have happened.
Had I not paid attention to my mom instincts, I hate to think of what could have happened.
During this time, I felt completely isolated and terrified. Being a mom can be scary and lonely enough when things are going well, let alone when they are going wrong. During this time, my daughter was on a strict mix-feeding schedule to help increase her weight. She would breastfeed and have a bottle, then I would have to pump for an additional 15 minutes. While I knew it was what was best for her, it took a toll on me both physically and emotionally. I felt like I was losing myself and that my whole life was now about producing milk, and I often considered just switching her over to formula even though it really wasn't what I wanted. I realized that I desperately needed to find some women who were sharing similar concerns — women who wouldn't judge me and would understand that this mom thing is hard work. In short, I needed friends who had kids.
It was then that I found out about Peanut (a social networking app that matches you to moms in your area). I downloaded it and immediately started to feel the camaraderie. The women who I connected with were not only supportive, but they also helped me to understand that sometimes things just go wrong. They reminded and commended me of the fact that I had acted on my instincts and therefore taken steps to get my daughter back to a healthy place. These new connections enabled me to slowly regain my self-confidence that had been sapped due to the feeding problems. The ladies I met on Peanut helped me without even realizing they were doing so. By just being there and talking to me, they allowed me to have aspects of my life that weren't all about feeding.
Being a mom can be scary and lonely enough when things are going well, let alone when they are going wrong.
I continued to use Peanut and have managed to not only make meaningful connections and meet lovely women, but I have also developed true friendships. I am sure I would have eventually forgiven myself in time, but using the app to talk to other moms definitely sped that process along. My daughter is thriving now and so am I thanks to the friendships that Peanut has given me.
Emily Cook is a member of Peanut, the app for modern moms to make new friends, chat, and be a part of a community of supportive, like-minded women. This content was created in partnership with Peanut.