A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

Not Your Baby’s Growing Pains: My Growing Story

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder

It’s no secret that your baby is growing leaps and bounds every second. They are crying, writhing around on the floor, grunting, yelling and flapping their limbs. It must be so intense to be a baby. Every moment there is something new to process, a new sensation in your body and a new urge toward motion. Babies appear to be in pain much of the time. As a new mother I always think something is wrong. Really seriously wrong. I mean grunting like that can’t be good, flopping around like that can’t be normal, screaming like that has to be from pain! I still fear the worst like any mother, but in moments where it seems like my baby needs an exorcist I try to remember that it’s most likely growing pains.

It seems much like becoming a mother. There have been times when I feel inside the way my baby looks on the outside. My insides are flopping around, screaming and grunting. And, let’s face it, sometimes I can be seen doing these things as well. But these are not your baby’s growing pains. These are emotional and psychological. These growing pains are wrapped up in guilt, shame, fear and regret. They come from making decisions with limited information only to learn there is a whole world out there we didn’t know about. It’s a painful realization when we find ourselves standing several miles away from where we would like to be. Whether this means we want to change something that we have been doing because we learned that it is not the best choice for us or whether we have to come to terms with decisions that we have made that we cannot undo.

There are many decisions that I made early on that I have been able to change. I wore my baby face-out in a Baby Bjorn. Then I did some research and learned that carriers such as Baby Bjorns are not as supportive or ergonomically correct as others and that young babies can become overstimulated in the face-out position. I did a lot of research and was able to accept that I wanted to change what I was doing. There is a mountain of evidence out there waiting to be analyzed. I made my initial decision without researching first; I did not mean any harm. I resolved the situation by buying a new carrier and turning my baby around to face me. Along with these simple changes I had to dig deep within myself and discover just why I was struggling with babywearing. It turns out that I have intimacy issues at a deep level and was uncomfortable with having my baby so close. So I explored this. I looked deep down inside and sifted through the garbage until I found a way to have my baby close. Because this is what my baby needs and my baby’s needs come before mine now. It’s difficult, but it’s simple. Not easy; simple.

It takes hard work and humility to reassess our choices like this, but if we want to keep going down that road toward the mother we want to be then we need to be open to making changes. It doesn’t make us bad. It actually makes us stronger and smarter. We set a good example for our children when we are able to make mistakes and fix them. We can no longer hide behind “these are my issues,” “this is what works for me,” or “I’m more comfortable with this.” It’s no longer about me. Not even a little bit. It’s time to woman up, let go and leave it all behind. We no longer make decisions in a vacuum. Never again.

I have also made decisions that I cannot undo. If I am truly honest with myself I wanted to be induced. I pushed for it. I was only a week overdue, but I had begun to gather evidence for my case that my baby was running out of amniotic fluid and could choke on his first poo. The doctors were in support of this because this is their protocol, but if I knew then what I know now I would have waited. Thankfully my baby is healthy, but there is evidence that induction can be risky. I cannot undo this decision. I can only try to find a way to heal from it. It’s painful to think back to that final doctor appointment and realize how much I wanted it to be over and how much I wanted to be induced. Now I know another week of pregnancy (in my case everything was going well) is a small price to pay to give my baby the healthiest start possible.

So how do I heal from these wounds? The answer is “privately.” For me the best way to come to terms with this was to research it, monitor my feelings, talk to my husband, write about it and let myself off the hook. There is nothing I can do now. I can learn and do better next time. I heal by promising myself that I did my best and will make an informed decision next time. I have chosen to grow from these situations rather than defend them. I have chosen to see it as an opportunity to better myself and be a role model for my son.

It’s a hard pill to swallow when we uncover evidence that we made a decision that could negatively affect our child. We deal with these feelings in many different ways. We are all in our various stages of healing and growing. Motherhood is fascinating and awesome. I have found the most awesome part is the opportunity for intense self-discovery. It seems like a crime to be given this gift and not respect the natural process of human growth that comes with it. We are not bad mothers for making wrong decisions. But we are doing everyone, including our children, a disservice by not being open to and internalizing new information.

I am not going to lie. It’s not going to be easy. I have spent many a night lying awake. As if I need to be awake more than I already am. I have spent much time crying, panicking and grieving. I am doing my best. So are you. 

Abby Theuring, MSW