Did you drink while breastfeeding?
I spent last weekend with my four month old niece, who happens to be the most precious and beautiful baby on this planet. I'm not biased or anything. I always loved the baby stage with my own kids, unlike my husband, who never knew what to do with our children when they were tiny. He liked holding them once they were fast asleep, but he was never really comfortable with them when they were that small.
I, on the other hand, loved every moment when they were babies. All three of my kids were very different infants. With each child, I relaxed a bit more and felt more comfortable in my role as their mother each time I brought them home from the hospital. I loved the early infant stage. The breastfeeding. The cooing. The swaddling. The napping in your arms. I enjoyed all the sweet sounds they made. The miniature diapers and fun clothing I could dress them up in.
I know that it is easy to forget about all the hard stuff - the sleepless nights, the spitting up, the lack of schedule, the inability to leave them and the incessant feeling as if something was going to happen to them at any moment. Like was a meteor going to fall out of the sky randomly while I was walking down the street and crush the stroller? I had wild, bizarre thoughts in the early days with Brayden - my hormones were out of control. I also remember Brayden didn't sleep for the first 9 months, which made me feel like I was going insane after a while. So, yes, it was exhausting and difficult - especially having three kids under the age of four.
I didn't drink much at first, when Brayden was a baby. It wasn't until a couple years later, when we had Chase and Parker and moved out to the suburbs that my drinking really increased. Once Parker was here, we were more isolated from friends. In the evenings, I began to rely on wine for comfort and company. I wasn't afraid to have a couple glasses of wine once the boys were in bed, when I was snuggling with my baby girl in front of the TV. It was my only peace and quiet. I felt like it was my reward.
I remember one night when Parker was a couple of months old and she was sleeping in the crib in our room. She woke up after only a short while in the night, and I was a little bit tipsy. I couldn't nurse her quite yet, but I also knew she didn't exactly need to eat. I let her cry herself back to sleep. I felt a bit guilty for not being able to feed her because of the alcohol in my system, but I shrugged it off at the time. Evan had no idea, as he was working late, as he did most nights back then.
I nursed each child for 12 months. There were other times when I didn't have a choice and had to feed my kids with booze in my system, knowing it probably wasn't a good idea. I have a tough time thinking about those memories. That was the beginning of a long road for me.
I have tons of shameful memories from my past parenting days that I try not to think about, but like everything - I need to acknowledge them and forgive myself. My kids are happy, healthy and thriving today with a sober mother. And I am grateful to be doing the best I can every day from here on out.