Dumb mom move – check out my biggest parenting fail

Lucy was due to arrive mid-January. For Christmas, we were planning to visit my husband’s family in Ottawa. I wasn’t keen on the idea. I mean, babies come early, right? And I had an awesome midwife and birth plan in place, and didn’t want to mess that up. But there was no talking hubby out of it.

We booked our first-class Via Rail tickets. There was no way I was going to risk going into labour in a snow storm, in a Chevy Cavalier, in the thick of holiday traffic. And if you’re going to give birth on a train, you want to make sure you do it with class. We never made it onto the train.

My baby was premature.

Lucy arrived a few days before Christmas. She was a healthy six and a half pounds with wafer thin ears and teeny tiny feet. My midwife called her peanut. She was the most precious thing I’d ever seen. Definitely my best work yet. And then she discovered her lungs.

I’d heard that newborn infants slept all day. Mine didn’t. This peanut wouldn’t sleep during the day unless she was strapped to me and moving – so I kept moving. I walked for hours every day. And by night,  here’s what I did:

How to get a crying infant to sleep in 7 not-so-easy steps.

  1. Put on some classical music and walk up and down your room of choice with baby held to chest.
  2. Turn TV to a channel with no reception in order to achieve white noise.
  3. Slowly turn the classical music down while simultaneously turning the TV up.
  4. Gently remove baby from chest, place into bassinet, and keep walking, swinging gently to the dulcet sounds of white noise.
  5. Turn on an electric razor and position it under baby’s bassinet pillow.
  6. Slowly turn the TV down while continuing to walk and gently swing baby.
  7. Head to bed and pray bundle of joy doesn’t wake up. ‘Til morning, I should add.

I went to the occasional mom and baby group.

You probably know the kind I mean. Moms sitting in a circle with their bundles of joy laid out before them, shaking their mini Whoozits above their babies’ heads and responding to their coos of joy. Not me. Lucy would have none of that. I’d pace the circumference of the circle with her strapped to me, wishing desperately that I could be a participant in this adult show-and-tell.

One afternoon, when she was just a few months old, a fellow baby-momma invited me to join her mom’s group for coffee at one of their homes and a strange thing happened. Lucy sat on the floor with the other babies, and made barely a peep. It was a beautiful thing. I enjoyed an afternoon of adult-talk. Maybe I should rephrase that. An afternoon of talking with adults … about motor skills, bowel movements, nursing and other baby-related things.

When I got home late that afternoon, I popped Lucy into her bouncy chair. Still not a peep. Too good to be true. I poured myself a glass of red wine. For the first time in weeks I was able to prepare dinner without being forced to stand two-feet away from the stove-top to prevent my baby sling and baby from catching fire. And then my husband came home.

I greeted him with a smile and a kiss, instead of the tears he had come to expect. Right then, he knew something was up. He walked over to Lucy and said hello. She didn’t respond. He snapped his fingers in front of her eyes. Still no response. “There’s something wrong with her,” he said. “How long has she been like this?” Sheepishly, I said, “she’s been quiet all afternoon.”

Five minutes later, we were on our way to emerg. Before I knew it, Lucy was being examined by a doctor while donning the most heart-breakingly small hospital gown. She had a fever. They gave her baby Tylenol and monitored her for a while. Nothing changed. Eventually we were told she could have meningitis, and preparation for a spinal tap began.

I know I don’t need to tell you how petrifying that was. I don’t think I said much in the hospital. I let my husband take control – extremely out of character for me – while my foggy brain tried to make sense of what had happened that day. If you haven’t guessed yet, here’s what I’m pretty sure happened.

My baby was quiet. Quiet for the first time in months.

Bless her little peanut heart, I was just so worn out from motherhood and I wanted to milk that peace and quiet for all it was worth. I saw my baby in a trance – and I ignored it. I abandoned maternal instinct and played dumb. I didn’t mean to. It just happened. It’s not my proudest moment, and that’s why it’s taken me years to come clean. In fact, I may have never come clean if it weren’t for the fact that just minutes before Lucy was due for her spinal tap, she took a massive, and I mean MASSIVE dump. Her temperature returned to normal. She broke out of her trance, opened her lungs, and belted out the most beautiful song ever.

All of this to say, next time you find yourself drowning in shame, know that you’re not alone. Yes, that’s my biggest parenting fail but it’s definitely not the only one. We mere mortals are going to get it wrong for time to time. Just learn from your mistakes and give yourself a pat on the back for the many things you get right!

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By | 2017-08-07T14:55:21+00:00 May 4th, 2017|22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Kristi File June 22, 2017 at 10:30 am - Reply

    Oh how scary! Thanks so much for sharing. We all have our moments, especially in those first few months. It’s so hard to do everything perfectly. I’m so glad your little girl is ok and all turned out well for you! xoxo

    • THE WORDY MOM June 22, 2017 at 11:02 am - Reply

      Thanks, Kristi. She’s a health 16-year-old now!

  2. Jenn June 22, 2017 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    That is very scary! I would have panicked and faulted myself too. However, it’s good that she didn’t have anything serious! We all have our moments!

    • THE WORDY MOM June 22, 2017 at 2:32 pm - Reply

      Yep. Can’t believe my moment lasted long enough for me to cook dinner and drink a glass of wine, but still!

  3. RM June 22, 2017 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for opening up and sharing with us… As far as mom fails… I think parenthood is full of times we “fail” or go off the path we have created for ourselves but I think that just leads to better roads in the long run…

    • THE WORDY MOM June 22, 2017 at 6:09 pm - Reply

      At the end of the day, yes, I think we do end up ahead as a result of our learning.

  4. Jalisa June 22, 2017 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    I honestly never went to a mom group. Mine was I couldn’t breastfeed. We came home from the hospital and he still wasn’t feeding right. He lost a bunch of weight and was we were supplementing his formula. I wanted to breast feed so bad and felt I failed him but realized I couldn’t do anything. He gained all his weight back and then some within a month. I’m hoping with the next one things will be better.

    • THE WORDY MOM June 22, 2017 at 8:13 pm - Reply

      Jalisa, thanks for sharing. That is definitely NOT a parenting fail, but I know how you feel. I had to see a specialist and get coaching to help my baby latch on. All around me, there were moms with full boobs and happily latched-on babies. It’s experiences like these that can leave us feeling really alone when we’re new moms, which is why I’m so glad to be writing this blog.

  5. Elise Cohen Ho June 22, 2017 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    Hahahah.. I love that you embrace (and state) that it was not so easy.

    • THE WORDY MOM June 22, 2017 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      Honesty, Elise. That’s all I got for ya!

  6. Audria June 22, 2017 at 11:38 pm - Reply

    That is so scary! I know there are times I feel I need to call the doc. But I hate talking on the phone ( I know silly) I could probably do better.

    • THE WORDY MOM June 23, 2017 at 7:05 am - Reply

      It was, Audria. Good to be honest about ourselves though, as you just were.

  7. Misty Nelson June 23, 2017 at 11:11 am - Reply

    So scary! I’m glad you are sharing this. Parenting is so hard and we all feel like failures a good part of the time. It’s nice to hear other moms go through difficulties, make mistakes and deal with guilt over issues. The first week with my little one I felt like everything I did was wrong. I wasn’t able to deliver naturally so we had to have an emergency c-section. My baby latched improperly and I didn’t know so I just let him keep going and it destroyed my breasts so I had to wait over a week for them to heal and try again. I had planned on and thought we would have a natural birth and I’d be the smiling mama holding my breastfeeding baby and loving every minute. In reality I was an exhausted mom dealing with an unplanned surgery and complications while my child was formula fed, often by other people because I was so heavily medicated to deal with pain and issues. Oh the guilt! But we brought our sweet baby boy home and slowly adjusted to our normal and things got better. You are right though, it’s so hard dealing with feeling like a failure, even when it’s not a true “fail”

    • THE WORDY MOM June 23, 2017 at 11:38 am - Reply

      It sounds like you had such a rough start, Misty. So many people having similar experiences feel the need to put a brave face forward. I think that the more honest we can be with one another, the less we will feel like failures. Thank you for sharing your honest story.

  8. Kanani Stone June 23, 2017 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    Whoa that is totally scary! I’m more of an over-reactor so I’m guilty of dragging kids to the ER when everyone is like, they’re fine. I panic and worry too much, which is actually a fault of mine!

    • THE WORDY MOM June 23, 2017 at 3:25 pm - Reply

      Better safe than sorry!

  9. Shann Eva June 23, 2017 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    I can’t imagine how scared you must have felt. I hope you’ve let go of the guilt, though. Having a newborn is extremely difficult, especially with sleep deprivation. I remember when my oldest was a baby. He was being so good and quiet in his exersaucer, I just took a break myself. When my husband came home, he noticed he’d had a fever…which I didn’t even think of. He was also fine, but I felt that same guilt.

    • THE WORDY MOM June 24, 2017 at 6:41 am - Reply

      I appreciate you sharing that, Shann. I think I just went into survival mode – unfortunately my survival, not my my daughter’s, but it really was such an overwhelmingly difficult time.

  10. Beth Ann Myers - She Lists Five August 14, 2017 at 6:48 pm - Reply

    Wow! What a horrible situation to be in. I’m so sorry! You have a great attitude about how to handle the pressures of motherhood and I hope your story helps others who feel the same way!

    • THE WORDY MOM August 14, 2017 at 9:11 pm - Reply

      Thanks Beth Ann. If I can help even one mom feel a little less guilty about not being perfect, it was worth sharing.

  11. The Salty Mamas August 17, 2017 at 7:51 pm - Reply

    Please don’t be so hard on yourself! Any mom would probably just be thankful for a good day. I’m glad there was a speedy resolution eventually 😉

    • THE WORDY MOM August 17, 2017 at 8:38 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Salty! Me, too.

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