I Finally Have a Baby, So Why Do I Feel Guilty?

Having a baby is tough and it's not uncommon for moms, especially those who fought hard TTC, to feel guilty for not being totally happy when baby comes. One new mom shares her story.

I Finally Have a Baby, So Why Do I Feel Guilty? didesign021/Shutterstock

So you got through pregnancy successfully and you're holding your precious, hard-earned baby in your arms. Now what?

If you're like me, a formerly infertile mom who fought really hard to conceive my daughter, or even if you had no trouble TTC, you may feel like you should enjoy every single minute of the motherhood you worked so hard for. But then the reality of having a newborn kicks in: You're exhausted, frazzled, and fighting with your partner. Then comes the guilt: How can you have the baby blues when you finally got that child you always dreamed of?

Don't fight the feelings

When my daughter was first born, taking a daily shower was the only thing that made me feel human. I would get so frustrated on days when she wouldn't nap long enough for me to take the few minutes I needed. Sometimes I would strap her in her bouncy seat in the bathroom and while she cried, I would sit on the floor of my shower crying too. Then, there were days when I met my returning-from-work husband at the door only to hand over our screaming baby before even saying hello. I thought I cried a lot of tears trying to get pregnant but there were many more to come with the living, breathing newborn.

It wasn't until I started meeting other new moms and hearing their stories that it occurred to me that what I was feeling was perfectly normal. This was the reality of being a mom—and I wasn't alone.

It's okay to cry

New moms have a tendency to be very hard on themselves. We want to be superwomen—to be able to handle anything with grace and panache.

"After all the ups and down of IVF I did feel as if I was ready to begin parenting," shares new mom Jenifer Coscia, 33. "I felt the worst part was going to be behind us when Chase arrived, but boy was I wrong. The morning after giving birth he was taken to the NICU and I was definitely not prepared for that. I felt so helpless. I somehow felt responsible that he had to spend time in the NICU and that he wasn't in our room like other babies. The guilt didn't seem to go away even when we were discharged and ready to go home."

Allison Evans, 34, is still frustrated by the guilt she felt when her daughter was born. "I instinctively knew that babies were hard. I always told my friends, 'of course you're tired, of course you feel overwhelmed, of course you wish you could just take a shower and a nap. But when it was me feeling that way, it suddenly felt like some sort of huge betrayal to the fertility gods. Like I should be enjoying every single second of baby shrieking agony, because the woman who had had miscarriages and failed IVF and invasive surgeries that didn't work would gladly take that shrieking inconsolable baby and love every last second."

However hard you worked to have a baby doesn't make her cries less upsetting, her poop smell any better and doesn't mean you won't long for lazy Sundays when you had nothing to do but binge-watch Scandal. It's okay to sometimes look at that baby and think, however deep down, "why the hell did I do this?" Because every mom does that.

You're not alone

Having a baby levels the playing field. Every new parent is dealing with endless feedings, diaper changes and not enough sleep.

Coscia found this out after opening up about her guilt to other new moms. "I found peace knowing that I was not alone and that there was a support system out there," she says.

Evans found her own way of coping with the negative feelings, and gives this advice to other new moms who reach out: "Do not feel guilty for feeling exhausted or less than excited about every single tiny thing. Do not feel guilty for feeling pretty excited that you are dressed in reasonably clean yoga pants and neither of you is crying hysterically. Do not feel guilty for wishing you could just stand in the garage for three minutes and sob because it is just all so much and you have been feeling like you're going to burst into tears for the past hour while people come to see the baby."

Remember that eventually you'll get the hang of things—and it's important to celebrate the milestones. One day it occurred to me that I hadn't cried in 24 hours; My daughter was less than 6 weeks old and I was finally feeling like I was getting a handle on things. A couple weeks later she started to smile at me and that's when everything I went through suddenly felt worth it. Is every day magical? No, not even close. But in the end, every day was 100% worth it.