Roller Coaster of Emotions--Feeling like a Failure

by Lauren Matthies


I've never experienced such a roller coaster of emotions before.  Sometimes I walk into the room to pick up Henry or am just talking to him about how much I love him and I start crying tears of joy and overwhelming love.  Then there's moments like tonight when I feel like I am failing on every level and it takes everything within me not to completely break down.

Tomorrow is my husband's first day back at work and he's only going in for a half day, but I already feel lost.  It's been working out so well where he helps during the day and then I take the night shift and let him sleep from around 3am to between 9 and 11am, with the three of us co-sleeping in the later morning hours.  Tonight we had to up that time frame a bit so my husband could get adequate sleep to be effective at work, but could also take me to my doctor's appointment and lactation consultation in the morning.  

Immediately as my husband was trying to go to bed, Henry was ready to eat and got a dirty diaper.  I was trying to feed and noticed blood coming into my nipple shield and started to panic because the pediatrician mentioned wanting to keep him from ingesting blood as a result of my damaged nipples.  I had to have my husband get up to help change the diaper while I desperately tried to warm a bottle of breast milk (which I later found out I did all wrong).  I started crying while trying to do it because I had no idea what to do (my husband has been taking care of all things pumping, bottle, diaper related, including cleaning and set up and changing).  Then I finally get him on the bottle and he poops again.  I am trying to change him not knowing what I'm doing (all the while trying to record his poops, feeding, and sleep schedule on my phone), and then have no idea where to put the diaper and how to wash my hands to help get him to my right breast to feed because he is still hungry.  I try to use hand sanitizer while trying to let him latch without my nipple shield so that I can get my nipple shield with somewhat clean hands.  All the while I am tripping over stuff left and right because I can't walk right yet.

While trying to get him set up I feel that I need to go to the bathroom (and I already peed myself while trying to get ready for bed), but can't leave him or go to the bathroom with him in my arms so I wet myself yet again (which is okay because I'm wearing depends, but humiliating and again adding to my feelings of complete and utter failure).  At this point I feel like Derek is way more competent as Henry's dad than I am as Henry's mother, but I can't wake him (or don't want to) so he can safely drive us around tomorrow and drive himself a decent distance to work and back in the afternoon.

I can't help organize because I can't move well and I am in excruciating pain.  I may have fed my son blood and I heated the milk incorrectly which may have left him without the nutritional supplementation he needs.  I don't know whether to feed or pump my left breast again because I don't want to put blood in his milk, but my boob keeps getting bigger and more sore as it fills with milk.  All the while, I'm trying to reign in my emotions and feelings of failure so Henry doesn't pick up on any of it.

As I'm typing right now, he is laying in my arms.  We fed again on the left side, hopefully he is fine (I have to trust that my baby will be safe and well), and I am calming down and having faith that I will (we will) figure it out.  My baby and I have only been together in person for less than 6 days.  When he was in my womb I could perfectly and effortlessly meet his every need (even though my pain was very present then as well).  Now, we are working on a new pattern.  I may feel like a failure at times, and feeling like I'm failing as a mother is one of the worst feelings in the world, but I am not failing at loving him.

As I was trying to calm him, he was wrapping his little arm around my back and rubbing it up and down.  It felt like he was hugging me and saying, "it's okay, mom."  Now as he sleeps in my arms I see him smile every once and a while.  Every so often he cracks his eyes open enough to look at me, know everything is okay, and go back to sleep.  I talked to him and told him how much I want to protect him, be a good mother to him, and how much I do and will always love him.  I will mess up.  I will have break downs.  But, I hope that I can always return to these moments, trusting that I am capable, knowing that Henry was chosen to be my son for a reason, and having faith that each day we will learn more about each other and grow more competent as mother and son, together.