Mother-To-Be or Mother-Not-To-Be, that is the question.

our struggles with infertility

November 29, 2006


The address for my new blog as of 6/26/06 is:


June 25, 2006


"Now that my life is so prearranged,
I know that its time for a cool change" - Glenn Shorrock, Little River Band

Well, not a ton of responses to my last post. Hmm. I thought that would be more fun than it actually was. For those that are interested, the second commenter, Tina, was correct. The photos are of some islands that MAN is creating off the coast of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. I recently saw a special on the National Geographic channel about the islands and thought it was WAY cool. Take a peek at the link Tina included if you are interested. Crazy stuff!

Anyways, about the title of the post and the quote. Yup, it is that time - time for me to move on. Time to close down this blog.

I am doing this even though it is tough for me - I've got almost three years' worth of archives built up in this blog. But in many ways this blog is no longer relevant. It has served its purpose - the point of keeping this blog was to help me navigate my way through the murky waters of infertility. I've now done so. Even the title question is no longer relevant; not only has it been answered, but it is past-tense.

I am not giving up blogging all together, though - I am just moving to a new location. It is time to say good-bye here and move onto newer topics.

I thank each and every one of you who has taken the time to come by and read me over the past few years. Thank you to those of you that were supportive through my ups and downs on my journey to motherhood. I cannot express how much my friends in the computer helped me through ALL of this.

I am not posting the address of the new blog publicly. However, if you would like the url, please send me an email and I will be happy to send you the link. It may take a few days, however, as it is still not 100% up and running. We're getting close, though.

Once again, thank you so much to all of you. You are the best!


June 20, 2006


Phew...still recovering from that last post. So let's move onward, shall we?

On to something completely different and totally light-hearted and irrelevant.

Who can tell me what this is?

Or, this?

Or better yet, what the heck is this?

I would love to see what your guesses are. I am certain that some of you out there know, because you are far more informed than I am. But for those of you that DON'T know, I wonder if you will find it as cool as I do?

(Answers to be revealed in a future post).


June 17, 2006



I really didn't want to do this post, but I feel like I have to now. There has been so much discussion this week on the internet that now I feel like I have to throw my two-cents in, even if it means I am viciously attacked. (Hey, I can always delete the ugly comments, right?)**

In a recent post, I mentioned how mothering in-and-of itself brings up a lot of feelings of guilt in me, because I am not "the perfect mother" at every turn. Well, apparently the Federal Government has now decided that I AM, in fact, a horrible, horrible mother and that I do have PLENTY to feel guilty about.

Amanda has been formula-fed since the day she was born.



Apparently I should basically be thrown in jail for committing such a heinous offense!

Actually, I managed to shrug the ads off this week, seeing them for what they are: scare tactics. Nothing more, nothing less. And I try not to pay attention to ANYONE who tries to educate me using nothing more than scare tactics. If you want to educate or inform me of something that may be beneficial for me to know, than go about it in a civilized manner. Do it respectfully. If you can't do that, you are invisible to me. Period.

Anyone who reads me knows that I have been down in the dumps lately. It behooved me to do my best to ignore these ads and all the news stories surrounding them, especially now when I am particularly vulnerable and these ads clearly were targeted squarely at ME.

But as the week continued it was getting harder and harder to ignore the flurry of discussion and debate happening in the blog-world. Finally, I contributed a comment to Julie's post about these ads. And then this morning I read what the rest of her commenters had to say. And what they had to say is what prompted me to come out of the closet and write this post:

I do not breastfeed my child. I never even tried.

Long before I ever tried to get pregnant, before I even knew that I was infertile, I had the debate in my head about whether I would or would-not, when the time came. Back then I didn't know - I never felt strongly compelled to breastfeed, even though I knew that it is ultimately better for the baby. That said, I wasn't against it either, I just didn't know if it was the right choice for me. Foolishly, back then, I considered it just that - my choice. How naive I was, apparently.

Through the first six months of my pregnancy, I strongly considered breastfeeding. I really did. But as the third trimester hit, and the birth of Amanda approached, I began to feel a little panicky about it. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew - I JUST KNEW - that breastfeeding was not the right decision for me at that time. I don't know if I can accurately explain here, in black and white, the reasons WHY. But I just knew that it was not something I could do. Was I scared to try? Yes. Was I reluctant to try? Yes. Was I MAJORLY STRESSED OUT about the prospect of trying? Hell yes. In 2001 I had breast reduction surgery. At the time of the surgery, I was warned that I may never be able to breastfeed, but I was okay with that because children seemed so far off in the future. Having the surgery was not a guarantee that I would not be able to breastfeed, but it presented the potential for it to be problematic. This always stressed me out, that breastfeeding is hard enough to do anyways without trying and trying and trying and ultimately failing because my body just couldn't physically do it. I know that plenty of women have had breast-reduction surgery and have gone on to successfully breastfeed. I just wasn't really looking forward to being a guinea-pig, I guess. Not with this.

I watched my sister try to breastfeed, and when it wasn't working it stressed her out big time. The baby was rapidly losing weight, and both mom and baby were unhappy. Deciding to switch to formula feeding was "the best decision I could have made," according to her. Witnessing that, I didn't want to potentially add that kind of stress to what was already going to be one of the most stressful periods of my life. Especially if there was also a chance that the prior surgery would be an obstacle. There were far too many "what ifs" for me.

Somewhere in that last trimester it occurred to me that I didn't want to breastfeed if I was doing it purely out of guilt. And from what I was feeling at the time, that was, honestly, the ONLY reason I considered doing it. Not because it was best for my baby, but because I was terrified of the backlash I would receive if - God Forbid - I actually decided that I DIDN'T WANT TO DO IT.

I spoke with my OB/GYN about it, who was completely supportive in my decision. She reassured me that it was entirely my decision, and that I should absolutely not let ANYONE try to make me feel guilty for deciding to formula-feed. She marked it on my chart "to make sure the lactation consultants leave you alone after delivery," because she assured me that the consultants at the hospital could be "very aggressive." Since my mind was made up, she saw no reason to expose me to them whatsoever. In fact, I eventually learned that she, my OB/GYN also formula-fed her children*. To this day I am SO GRATEFUL that I had a doctor who was so kind to me about such a highly charged topic.

So there - I said it - I didn't breastfeed because I chose not to. That is the end of the story, at least it is for me. Go ahead and think what you will of me, but the fact of the matter is that even though I offered a teeny-tiny bit of insight above as to my reasoning, the absolute truth is that I don't owe ANYONE an explanation as to WHY I made this choice. Ultimately, the choice was mine to make, and the last time I checked Amanda is MY child. Anyone who wants to tell me what kind of decisions I should be making with regards to her better be prepared to take over her care 24/7. As her mother, I am entitled to make my own choices about her, and unless I am putting her in grave danger (abuse, neglect, etc), it is nobody's business. And let me tell you, feeding my baby formula is NOT putting her in grave danger - it just isn't.

I guess what prompted me to write about this subject after all this time was the tone of the commenters on Julie's blog today. I was initially pleased to see that so many women agreed that the ad campaign is idiotic - that scaring women into breastfeeding is not the best way to educate. And there were many, many commenters who over and over again repeated the same thing; that it is important to educate women on the benefits of breastfeeding and that the health benefits to the baby are scientifically undeniable. So far I am okay, I agree with this completely. So many of the commenters were incredibly sympathetic to the poor women out there who tried to breastfeed and, for whatever reason, were unsuccessful. They all agreed that these ads were horrible for making THOSE women feel guilty about what was probably already a heartbreaking situation. Again, I agree.

But...and this is a huge but...almost all of them seem to agree that I am some sort of leper, some apathetic abhorrent human being because I CHOSE not to breastfeed. The fact that I was potentially physically able to and still DID NOT makes me the worse kind of woman ever. Their brains cannot get around the fact that a person like me can exist in the world.

No, okay, I never tried to breastfeed. I chose not to. And apparently I am an outcast of society because of it.

Gosh, it is enough to make me cry.

It is so sad, because I knew that by making this choice I was setting myself up for criticism, and frankly it is just not fair. Who really thinks they have the right to tell me how to take care of my child? Does the simple fact that I am doing something so different from the mainstream threaten your own confidence so much that you need to make me feel bad? Is breastfeeding "right" and formula-feeding "wrong"? Is this subject REALLY that black and white? Because if it were, there would be a law in this country mandating that women breastfeed - again, if what I am doing truly is the WRONG thing to do.

Four days after Amanda was born, my body was covered from head-to-toe with hives. I have never had that happen before, and it was some scary shit. I very, very reluctantly called my primary-care physician, because the last thing I wanted to do was go to the doctor with a four-day old baby to take care of. When she returned my call, she told me to go to the urgent-care center at her office, that she had made a 9:15PM appointment for me and I would be seen my the nighttime doctor that was on-call. I hung up the phone and cried, because with the hormone surges and lack of sleep, the very last thing on earth that I wanted to do was leave my new baby at home with a novice dad. I hadn't left her side in 96 hours and was not happy about the thought of doing it now. My mother could sense that I was a wreck and she insisted on coming with me to my appointment. (She told me later that, with my exhaustion and my hormones being the way they were, she wanted to make sure I didn't drive off the side of the road).

Anyways, long story short (too late!) the doctor that saw me that evening BERATED me when she learned that I wasn't breastfeeding. BERATED me. It wasn't even her business, the baby was not there to be checked out, I WAS. It only came up because I asked for a prescription and she mentioned that she would not give a prescription for steroids to a breastfeeding mother. She just ASSUMED I was breastfeeding. When I told her I wasn't she actually raised her voice and spoke to me in a harsh, scolding manner telling me that it was "very bad" - her words - that I was giving formula to my baby. I stood there for ten solid minutes, being verbally ripped to shreds, and stood firm taking the abuse long enough to make sure I got my damn prescription.

When I left and I saw my mother in the waiting room, I dissolved into a mess of tears. And I sobbed in guilt and in anger the whole drive back home to my family. I already felt guilty enough to leave my baby's side at such a young tender age to tend to my own needs, for this doctor to throw that heap of guilt on top of everything else was more than I could bear. And I was so, so grateful that my mom was there, because that drive home could have been something ugly otherwise.

Anyone who thinks the above-mentioned doctor did the right thing to me, frankly, is out of their mind. Anyone who thinks that I deserved that from the doctor, frankly, should re-examine their own beliefs as far as what is the right way and what is the wrong way to treat people.

Do I have guilt that I didn't try to breastfeed Amanda? Absolutely. Am I scared that perhaps I made the wrong decision? Sure I am. Am I also happy with the choice that I made? Yes indeed, I am. Formula feeding has been, overall, a wonderful experience for me, for Anthony AND for Amanda.

Every family has to make the right choices for what works best for THEM. Period.

Let me put it another way: Let's say I meet a mother who works full-time and has their child in daycare. I could (but I wouldn't) attack her and say "how could you let someone ELSE raise YOUR child?," pulling statistics out of my ass claiming that it is more beneficial for her child for her to stay home full-time. I could claim that because I am a stay-at-home mom, and that is what works for me, EVERYONE should do the same as I do. I could try to make her feel that she is failing her child, not knowing the following:

a) does this woman not have a choice? does she put her child in daycare because otherwise she cannot pay her bills?
b) does she already feel guilty on her own for putting her child in daycare and am I simply piling on more guilt to her?
c) does she LIKE her career and WANT to continue working, and putting her child in daycare is a choice that she has made, not a necessity?
d) is that child severely worse-off than mine simply because they attended daycare? Is it anywhere in the realm of possibility that daycare is perhaps a better option for that child than it would be for mine?

I cannot answer any of those questions, nor should I try to. We make decisions based on what we CAN do, what we are ABLE to do, and what we ultimately feel is best for both our children and for ourselves. Sometimes, those decisions may not be the right ones, and yes, sometimes we cannot go back and undo them and try again. But I am not going to tolerate anyone - ANYONE - telling me that I am a "BAD MOTHER" because Amanda is on a steady diet of Enfamil. I just am not.

So at this point I guess all I can do is apologize to my dear sweet daughter. Amanda, I am sorry that your government considers your mother to be a complete and total failure. (Apology stated tongue-in-cheek, of course).

*Before anyone pounces all over this, just because my OB/GYN formula fed her own children, she was not a formula-advocate nor was she anti-breastfeeding. She was a supportive doctor, who listened to me, her patient, who advised me of the pro's of breastfeeding but did not in any way try to persuade my decision one way or another. Just to be clear about that.

**I welcome - no, I encourage - healthy discussion and debate in my comments about this post. But, as I have mentioned repeatedly, I am in a very vulnerable place these days. I am not kidding when I say that ANY overly hostile or attacking comments will absolutely be deleted. I am not trying to perpetuate a war here. There are so many sides to this issue and I welcome all of them - but just like the ads I referenced, if you try to get your point across in a negative manner, your comment will be deleted and then no one will get to hear your thoughts on the subject. Because its MY blog and I can do what I want to. Capice?


June 16, 2006



What a difference a week makes.

I have been feeling better. Much better, in fact, than I have felt in a while.

I am not saying that my concerns about the potential for PPD are gone; the concerns are still very much there and I will still be keeping a watchful eye on everything for the next month or so. And I still may call my doctor - I am not dismissing anything.

But this past week was just such a GOOD WEEK, and I need to acknowledge that.

Maybe I needed ONE MORE WEEK to come down from the wedding and Christening. I think it took a full week to figure out how to relax and chill out; to realize that I could slow my pace from 150 mph to 70mph.

Maybe I felt better about everything when I talked to my newlywed sister Cheryl, and realized that she, too, was way down in the dumps. I told her that it was natural, that when you come off of such an emotional high, there is almost nowhere to go BUT down. And slowly I realized that maybe I was being perfectly normal, that my depression perhaps was a short-term thing, not necessarily a long-term clinical depressive state. Maybe.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that Amanda and I had a fantastic week. It is so nice to finally, FINALLY, not be on a crazy schedule with her. To wake up in the morning knowing that we didn't have to be anywhere, to go anywhere. To know that the day, the week for that matter, was ours to do with whatever we wanted. We went to Anthony's softball game this week; we went to the annual Flag Day Parade in my hometown this week; I even started going back to the gym this week after a too-long hiatus. Whether it was directly related or entirely coincidental, Amanda was in a terrifically fantastic mood all week. So often, I feel like I am fumbling and bumbling around with this motherhood gig, making things up as I go along and fraudulently pretending that I know what I am doing. This week, I had a particularly intense feeling of "Hey, I think I get this. I think I know what the heck I am doing with this kid. I am not an idiot at being a mom!"

Maybe it, very simply, has to do with what week it was. Ever since my period made its lovely return three months ago, it has been more intense than ever. I always had bad periods, and I hoped that pregnancy would change it for the better. Well, pregnancy definitely changed my period, but absolutely not for the better. Everything is WAY intensified - the PMS, the cramps, the discomfort - everything. And the way things have been going, I get about ONE normal week per month. There is about a 10-day long PMS timeframe, followed by a really horrible period, followed by a week of recovery, where my physical symptoms are still pretty icky and my moods are still altered. If you add that all up, it doesn't give me much reprieve. This past week was one of those rare "weeks off" from menstrual symptoms. Maybe that was all it was.

And maybe, if you add up all of the above "maybes", maybe that is what was bothering me so much last week, when the depression seemed really intense. It is possible.

Then again, maybe the shit-storm will all kick up again when my PMS symptoms kick in, in a few days.

But for now, I am acknowledging that I am feeling much better and that I had a good week - and for now, I am grateful.


June 14, 2006


I can't help but gush sometimes, and so I have to share!


June 13, 2006


I wasn't quite going to write this post so soon, but I have some time right now so what the heck.

In my last post I alluded to the recent bout of guilt that has gripped me in the first six months of motherhood. Specifically, I mentioned that I had "the immense guilt that comes with being a mom, and the guilt that comes with trying to keep everyone else in the world happy at the expense of yourself".

In my post before that, I had also referenced my worst-mother-in-the-world symptoms, that I suspect a lot of new moms go through. I was asking people to please keep their comments of the positive and constructive nature, that "the very last thing on the planet that I need right now is some anonymous commenter telling me how I am putting my child in danger or how I am a horrible mother or whatnot. I do a PLENTY good enough job beating myself up."

I would like to elaborate on both of these subjects - my guilt, and my feelings of inadequacy as a mom, and how the two intertwine.

Starting with guilt.

When Amanda was only four or five days old, I mentioned to my mother that when Amanda cried, I felt guilty, because as her mother shouldn't I know how to comfort her? The fact that I couldn't figure it out IMMEDIATELY and stop her from being upset made me feel guilty, guilty that my child would have to experience one second of any emotion other than joy. My mother basically said "Welcome to being a parent." She said that hand in hand with being a parent, especially a mother, comes a great deal of guilt. She said she still feels this guilt today, even with three grown daughters. "You can't take all their pain away all the time, but you feel like it is your job to, and so the guilt just comes automatically." But, she assured me, just try your best and do what is right for Amanda. You can't ease ALL her pain every second. Try NOT to feel guilty about that. You'll drive yourself crazy.

I definitely think she was right, about everything. Especially the driving myself crazy part. Please keep in mind that there is a logical part of my brain, firing signals way in the back of my head, telling me constantly to stop doing this to myself. BUT...I cannot help it. This is an example of a typical day with Amanda, as far as the guilt goes:

I have guilt when I get her up in the morning and change her out of her sopping wet diaper - guilt that she spent half the night soaked, even though the alternative would be to wake her up in the middle of the night to change her. Stupid, I know, but I feel bad.

I feel guilty about every decision I make throughout the day with regards to her. Did I play with her too long and wipe her out? Or not enough, not giving her the proper amount of attention?

If she takes poor naps throughout the day, I beat myself up, thinking there must be something else I could have done differently to get her to sleep better. And on top of that I feel guilty that now she is overtired and cranky, both for her sake and for the fact that Anthony gets to come home from a long day at work and be greeted with an overtired, cranky baby. (I have told him as much, and he has confirmed that which I already know - if she doesn't nap well, it is not my fault. I can't help it though - I have guilt).

On the contrary, if she naps all day I feel guilty. Guilty that she slept the day away, didn't play enough, that maybe now she'll be up all night and keep both of US up all night. This, too, is ridiculous, because this has never happened. No matter how much my daughter sleeps during the day, she ALWAYS sleeps ALL NIGHT.

Do you see where this is going? See how I am (unintentionally) driving myself nuts?

I have guilt over EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY decision I make about her, every single day. No matter what decision it is, I agonize over whether I should have done the alternative. Even when my decision appears sucessful, I then question my motives. (Did I put her down for a nap because she was tired, or because I was? If it is the latter, then HOW DARE I?), etc etc etc.

It is utterly exhausting, and completely irrational. Yet I don't know how to stop doing it.

If she develops a diaper rash? Entirely my fault.

If she scratches her face with her fingernails? I am a horrible mother for not cutting her nails before this happened.

I feel guilty if she starts screaming because her gums hurt. Ridiculously, I feel guilty that I didn't anticipate the pain, like somehow I should have known five minutes earlier so that I could start to preventatively soothe her.

I feel the worst guilt ever when she gets sick or comes down with a cold. After all, it MUST be my fault. Something I did caused her to get sick, whether I over or under dressed her, or whether I brought her out somewhere in public where she picked up the germs.

I think by now you understand what I mean about the guilt. I know, in the back of my head, that it is crazy to feel this way; that all I am doing is making myself nuts. I know that I cannot control EVERYTHING that happens to my daughter, and yet I feel as though I should be able to.

Directly related to these specific examples of guilt come the feelings of inadequacy. I must tell myself I am "the worst mother in the world" at least ten times a day. Don't get me wrong - I realize that there are definitely many other women out in the world that meet these qualifications, that are much more deserving of the title. But it is always in my head that I only get one shot at this with Amanda - she'll only ever be (a newborn, two months old, six months old, etc.) once in her lifetime, and if I screw it up it could lead to longterm damage.

Once, Anthony and I had a fight in front of her. She was just staring at the two of us, and when we finally resolved our differences I broke out into tears, certain that we'd just permanently scarred the child for life.

I guess there are reasons that I feel this way. For example, I myself have one (and only one) early childhood memory that I can remember, and when I told my mother about it she gasped and said "How can you remember that? You were under a year old?" I remember being placed on a black leather beanbag chair, and I remember people yelling. Maybe the touch or the feel of the chair was so unique to me at that stage in my life that it became such a vibrant memory for me as an infant, but I remember it clear as day. I was placed on a black beanbag chair, lying on my back staring endlessly at the ceiling, and there was yelling going on around me for a long, long time.

The reality of that situation was that my biological father had apparently come home to mom and I drunk, as usual, and picked a fight with my mother, as usual. It apparently started getting violent and physical, forcing my mother to dump me on the safest piece of furniture around - a beanbag chair - so that at least I would be out of harm's way.

I don't want to screw my daughter up. I am hell bent on making sure this kid is raised healthy and happy. But I am starting to see that I am being so obsessive about it that I am making life impossible for myself. I have set the bar so unrealistically high I will NEVER live up to my own standards of parenting. And therefore every day I feel like an enormous failure.

Plus, I am convinced that everything I do (EVERYTHING) has an impact on Amanda - positive or negative. People have told me over and over again that babies are born with a personality, but I haven't bought into that yet. I keep insisting that she is and she will be who she is because of us (Anthony and I). For example, Amanda is REALLY LOUD when she is happy. She lets the whole neighborhood know how she is feeling, her squeals of delight are definitely of a significant volume. Ask my mother? She says that is just Amanda's personality. Ask me? I say it is because Anthony and I are loud people, and that is what she knows. We never really got all soft and quiet-like when Amanda arrived home with us - we are both pretty loud, obnoxious people, and we didn't change our behavior in THAT sense just because a new little person moved in with us. Who is right? I don't know.

A big part of me feels that I HAVE to be right - that Amanda will become the person she will become based 100% on what her parents do. In that nature vs. nurture debate, I have to side with nurturing. I HAVE to. Otherwise, if I were to agree that nature is just as (if not more) important that nurture, this would mean that I am little more than an evil, violent, raging alcoholic - just like my biological father, a man I have never met. More alarming, if I am, then Amanda has got that in her too. And that is unacceptable.

Nurturing HAS to win the battle for me, for my daughter. When I do periodically have moments of extreme anger or rage, I wonder if, like the incredible hulk, those biological genes within me are being awakened. I don't want to ever be reminded that they are there, because frankly it scares the crap out of me. The part of me that was raised lovingly by my caring, generous, thoughtful mother - THAT is the part of me that needs to win out.

And so I CAN'T fail Amanda. I can't let that fraction of biology that she has the misfortune of inheriting from me win. And every single time something negative happens to her, I feel that I AM failing her.

One last note about the guilt: when I am NOT being the perfect mother, I feel guilty about a deal I made way back when. When we were halfway through the third IVF and my doctor told me that we were essentially "done" - that IVF most likely was never going to work for us, and that this particular IVF cycle would most likely fail, I made a deal with God, a God I very rarely talk to or pray to.

First, I cried and cried and cried and I asked Him why he wouldn't let me have a baby. What had I done in my life that was so awful that I was being punished in this cruel, cruel way. He knew how badly I wanted a biological child, why was He denying me this, the one thing I wanted more than anything in the world? In those desperate hours, I made a deal. I promised Him that if he would PLEASE give me a child, I would be the BEST MOTHER EVER. I swore on that with my life. Never, God, will you see a person more devoted to motherhood, or better at it, than me. Never. Please give me a child so that I can show you what a great job I can do.

Every time I am less than perfect with Amanda, I feel like I am not holding up my end of the bargain. Anyone who has read my blog for a while, or who knows me in person, knows that Amanda is an absolute miracle - she arrived when the odds were almost 100% against her. The doctor all but told us that the IVF cycle was a mere "going through the motions" because it WOULD NOT WORK.

I am not a deeply religious person, not at all, but when I learned that I was pregnant, and furthermore when I first saw Amanda's face, I couldn't help but believe that my plea to God did not fall on deaf ears. And though none of this was on purpose, is it MERELY coincidence that:

We learned we were pregnant on Good Friday?
We confirmed the pregnancy at my clinic on Easter Sunday?
She was born on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception?
Her Christening happened to fall on Pentecost Sunday?

I feel like SOMEONE is constantly trying to remind me of the miracle that she is, the gift that I was given when all hope was lost, and the DEAL that I made. It is so important that I live up to my end of the bargain, because I am terrified of what might happen if I don't.

Anyways...long post, but I am going to try to work on giving myself a break. My personality is that of a micro-manager, but perhaps I should stop trying to micromanage every aspect of my child. Maybe if I step back, take a deep breath, and stop beating myself up every five minutes, I will see the bigger picture: that I have a happy, healthy child who is incredibly loved.

Maybe I will even realize that I am doing a pretty good job. And instead of feeling guilty, I can start to feel some pride - pride in myself and in the beautiful little girl my baby is becoming.