Sunday, January 4, 2009

Bad Mom Chronicles, Part I

In the course of my daughter's young life, I've done a few "bad" things - not "bad" in the traditional sense, but things that make me feel guilty. Such as:

1) I didn't have a "natural" birth. She was a c-section. Due in part to the following factors: my Doctor's unavailability, the fact that I had 25 hours of labor, a fever and more drugs than a college dorm coursing through my body, and an umbilical cord wrapped around my daughter's neck. Any of these could have contributed to a c-section alone, but the combination made it a necessity. By the time my interim Doctor finally decided to get the baby out, I would have allowed an intern with craft services and a butter knife to free the child from my body. But I still wonder what it would have been like to have birthed her myself.

2) I didn't breastfeed her. I tried my hardest, and nothing happened. Well, actually, that's a lie. The baby flipped out. I'd heard that some babies "just don't latch on," and I never understood it; how hard can it be to eat? But when my newborn daughter took one look at what are usually ample breasts and screamed, I understood. So I patiently hooked myself up to that R2D2 machine in the hopes of at least producing something for her, and no avail. With the monstrous machine sitting next to my bed, I cried my heart out, fearing ear infections, sub-par intelligence, and a life of aimlessness because I couldn't produce the "liquid gold" that, according to most of society, including my well-meaning in-laws and "nazi" nurses, my daughter desperately needed. I tried to laugh it off by saying my body was "designed for style, not for function," but it still hurt. And the weekly formula bill is equally painful.

3) At one month old, I accidentally cut my daughter's teeny thumbnail and drew blood. I cried more than she did. It looked like a wee paper cut, but I was ready to turn myself in to the Department of Social Services. Thank God my husband had more sleep than I did. He calmed both of us down.

Bu there's the big one. I feel the need to confess.

Okay, so it started off like a normal weekend; I went shopping with my mom, had lunch, had the obligatory interruptions of the rest of her family calling frequently (we're Italian, so everything is a shared big deal, for better or for worse). Emerson was happily snuggled into her carseat/Snap-and-Go combination, which usually works well. But during lunch, the baby went a little nutto, so I took her out of her carseat and walked around the mall with her. Redheaded babies get lots of attention, so she was distracted by the "oooh and aaah's" of kind strangers (many of whom want to know "Who in the family has red hair?" which is pretty funny considering these people know neither me nor any of my family members) so she calmed down. We finished lunch, drove home, and I walked up the walkway with the carseat on my arm.

And Emerson fell out of the carseat and tumbled into the snow. I had forgotten to buckle her in.

Emerson screamed (do you blame her? the child fell asleep in a warm car and woke up in the snow) and I scooped her up, screamed for my mom and dashed up the stairs. I don't remember how I got into the apartment, but the next thing I knew, I'd put Emerson - still screaming - into her crib, and stripped her clothes off her to make sure she wasn't broken or bleeding. Like I felt inside.

Fortunately, she was fine, just cold and scared. She'll never remember it. But I stood looking out the window at the little outline of her little body in the snow and hated myself for a long time.

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