Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

Mommy Guilt


I was going through some old draft posts. I wrote this one on August 6th, 2008 when Tessa was 8 days old. It struck a chord with me because I’ve been asked recently how it was different. It being adoption vs biological child. The post must not have been finished but I present it as I found it. I thought I would share.

One nurse in the hospital made the joke that makes all adoptive parents cringe “So you did it the easy way the first time, huh?” Anyone who has adopted knows there is nothing easy about it. And those who have children the traditional way know that pregnancy isn’t always easy. In my mind, it is apples and oranges. One was one of the most emotionally taxing things I’ve ever experienced and the other was full of physical discomfort and uncertainty. But both produced miracles – my daughters.

The flood of post partum hormones has surprised me. I don’t know why. I knew it was part of the package. I’ve worried about post partum depression. Steve has done some reading and marveled at the chemical changes documented in the post partum brain (told you he is a geek). But despite the knowledge, the sudden tears and overwhelming emotions I’ve experienced since having Tessa have caught me by surprise. Thankfully, the majority of my emotions are sappy, happy, and awe filled rather than anything depressive. But all of this emotion has lead me to feel guilty at how different this experience is from my first week with Sabrina. For some reason, I feel like the experiences should feel more alike to reinforce the fact that I love my adopted child every bit as much as my biological child…and in fact don’t think of them in those terms at all. They are my children. Period.

But despite loving each with my whole heart, this first week with Tessa has been a completely different experience than my first week with Sabrina. Our first week with Sabrina was when she was 3 months old. We visited for a week in Guatemala. I felt incredible love for her but I also felt fear (that the adoption could fail) and uncertainty (did she like being rocked like this) and clumsy (I didn’t know how to comfort her). I felt rather fraudulent declaring myself her mother and her my daughter. I loved her from the minute I saw her photo but I didn’t feel like her mom until I earned it – meaning had her in my care for good and stopped feeling like I was playing house with her. I sobbed for her, ached for her, worried about her, longed for her but the throw-myself-in-front-of-a-speeding bus to protect her love took a little time to develop. It was fast once I moved to Guatemala but it wasn’t instantaneous.

Before I had Tessa, I was a little concerned about loving another child as much as I love Sabrina. I just couldn’t imagine it was possible. I anticipated it would take some time with Tessa as well. I thought I would be so tired and so busy that logistics would keep me going until that fierce momma love kicked in. That wasn’t the case at all. The second I heard her cry and then saw her face, I was lost. I look at her eating or sleeping on my chest and I cry because of the overwhelming love I feel for this child. I am awed by the miracle that we created. I suddenly get why people love newborns (I’ve never been a fan). I won’t go into the ride home from the hospital but suffice it to say the level of protectiveness from both Steve and I was bordering on absurd.




6 Comments to

“Mommy Guilt”

  1. On March 27th, 2013 at 7:11 pm nora Says:

    Its a perfect post and one I mirror so perfectly. The postpartum doesn’t have a match. The anxiety of not knowing doesn’t even come close to describing at the first meeting for our older girls.

    Thanks for a great read.

  2. On March 27th, 2013 at 8:13 pm Julie P Says:

    So glad you are blogging again. We’re done with one child, but I often wonder. Thanks for the honesty about the two different experiences. I still think Sabrina has the best smile EVER. Love the baby pictures.

  3. On March 28th, 2013 at 8:14 am P Says:

    It was exactly the same for me. I think all the post birth hormones helped me bond quickly with the babies. It took longer with m and I had some post adoption depression. I also felt so much physical relief after birth – I think that was part of it too. With adoption I went from one kind of anxiety right into another, without the help of all those breastfeeding hormones. Both processes were unique, but I can’t really say one was better than the other. And the love I feel for my girls is different amongst all three – there are things that I delight in specific to each child (M’s warm cozy hugs, R’s infectious laugh, E’s heart melting smile) but the overarching feeling is the same.

    Thanks for posting this – I had been meaning to discuss with you!

  4. On March 28th, 2013 at 10:46 pm Laura Says:

    Love your post — even if all five of ours are adpoted. We received our oldest a day shy of her being two months old. It was love at first sight. My children are my children. I want my obituary to read…she was a mother of five wonderful children and just skip thea doptive business.

  5. On March 29th, 2013 at 10:01 pm Sonia in MO Says:

    Beautiful post, and gorgeous babies!

    I remember feeling like I was my daughter’s babysitter for the longest time…. I kept feeling as though I was waiting for someone to pick her up and take her home. I knew I loved her with all my heart but I think I just wasn’t quite ready to really believe she was mine after so many long years of waiting for her. And then one day, a few months after she was home, it was just an ordinary day and she was laughing her amazing baby laugh and put her hand on my face and it was just like – oh, yes… I am your momma. Like I had been her momma all my life. We’ve never looked back 🙂

  6. On April 11th, 2013 at 9:08 am Shannon Says:

    I felt the same way with my girls. With Emily, her adoption took SOOOO long ( i mean I met a guy and got engaged and bought a house with him while I waited long!) and the anxiety of traveling and meeting her was extremely high. Things went well, but I distinctly remember being home with her and being like..ok now what? How am I supposed to just KNOW how to be a Mom? It was crazy. With Colleen…the post partem hormones were nutso. I cried for like a month. I LOVED her, and i wasn’t depressed, I just couldn’t stop crying. BUT, i wasn’t worried about how to be a mom at all. I just was. Maybe it was because i had already figured it out? They were two completely different experiences. And in my head now, they’re just my kids. I don’t really think about the different ways they came to me, it doesn’t really matter at all.