Mummy guilt. It strikes you when you least expect it. Ever since I became a mum, I’ve felt it. And no one warns you, probably because even if they did you wouldn’t believe it!
I always had the pangs of guilt when I had Isabelle but when I was pregnant with Isla, ‘the guilt’ was on another level. I felt guilty that we were going to take attention away from Isabelle when she’d been so used to our sole focus but ultimately I knew that having a sibling would be good for her. Then I had a very difficult start to my pregnancy with Isla; bad sickness and almost continual bleeds that meant we spent more time at the hospital than usual. I felt guilty that she watched too much TV, ate too many snacks and didn’t spend as much time outside as I would have liked.
And then we had our anomaly scan and the mummy guilt rocketed. What had I done to cause this? I remember scanning through the calendar, trying to work out what I had done at 6/7/8 weeks that could have caused Isla’s conditions. This was compounded by being regularly asked if I took enough folic acid/drank in early pregnancy/knew what caused Isla’s cleft.
At 29 weeks, I had a severe bleed & was hospitalised for almost a week. The unplanned separation from Isabelle made me feel awful & when they found it was an issue with the placenta, I was riddled with guilt that I’d yet again caused another problem for my baby.
When Isla was born the guilt multiplied again. I went into hospital for monitoring & left Isabelle with my amazing friend, to then be separated for the next few weeks whilst Isla was in hospital. I felt incredibly guilty that Isla had difficulties that landed her in NICU. I felt guilty that she couldn’t feed & needed an NG tube. I felt guilty that she had hearing loss.
I still feel guilty on a daily basis. Our normal isn’t the norm. My girls spend their weeks with hospital, GP & nurse visits. I feel incredibly guilty that we don’t get to fit more in because of all the appointments. I feel guilty that we can’t commit to baby or toddler classes because of the frequency of their hospital visits. This guilt is always compounded when I see what others are doing, especially on beautifully sunny days when we’ve been stuck inside a boiling hospital. It saddens me that this is their norm. They don’t know any different, which I’m thankful for & feel guilty for in equal measure. I feel guilty when I see children of the same age or younger doing things that my two can’t.
So how to combat the mummy guilt?! Be realistic. Know that you are doing everything you can within your own capabilities. When I’m having a bad day of it, I remind myself that I do the best I can in the time we have; that we spend a lot of time together at the weekends with Daddy, doing fun things. I remind myself that the reason we spend so much time at appointments is to ensure the girls get the care & treatment they need. I remind myself that they’re both happy. I also remind myself that I’m not to blame for every single thing that happens, sometimes things just do.
So whatever your mummy guilt, be kind to yourself. You are only one person, probably sleep deprived & constantly on the go, doing the best job you can. Give yourself a break today.