Thursday, March 13, 2008

And so the guilt goes on...

I nursed both my babies, well beyond their first year. Miss E stopped at 17 months, and Jay has just stopped in the last six weeks or so.

Feeling all warm and fuzzy that I was creating such a strong bond with my children, and giving them the absolute best sustenance available. Nursing on demand just like the Lactation Consultants advised, and feeling not a little smug at times that I never had to feed either of my children formula.

Miss E was a demanding nurser - and it took 3 different attempts to successfully wean her. She wanted to be nursed to sleep at night. I did it - 'whatever works' being my mantra. She frequently woke during the night, and would not settle without being nursed. Again, 'whatever works'.

In her toddlerhood, used to nighttime milk - she got milk many times in a sippy cup going to bed. Pregnant with her brother and not up to a raging battle, every.single.night, I chose my battles. Unwisely.

Miss E is tremendous at having her teeth brushed - she (most of the time) happily lets Hubs or myself brush them, and brush them thoroughly, and the milk habit is gone - she has only had water at bedtime or during the night for a while now.

The damage was already done.

At today's lengthy first dentist appointment (at which she did so well), the dentist asked 'did she get a bottle of milk in bed regularly?' - and so out pours my truthful account as I've written here.

Miss E needs four (yes that's FOUR) fillings and I am devastated.

I was adamant that I would look after my children's teeth and instill in them matter of fact daily habits to protect and keep their teeth healthy and I have failed already.

In nourishing my child's physical and emotional needs to be nursed I've let her little teeth come under attack from the very substance meant to make her strong.

When I got upset and told them how guilty I felt at the office today - the assistant and the dentist both said they understood but that given what I told them they would have expected things to be worse, and that at least her brushing routine is good now. They also said they've seen kids in there a lot worse than Miss E - which is of no comfort to me whatsoever since they're someone else's kids - not my responsiblity, not my problem.

Miss E is my responsibility, as is the health of her teeth. She has to go back for uncomfortable treatment and nobody can tell me not to feel bad about this. I did this to her and I feel so damn guilty.


jen said...

oh sister. you didn't do it on purpose. you can berate yourself over and over and yet all we can really do in the end is our best, it's give and take, the sum rather than the parts.

you are a lovely mum.

Heather J. said...

Oh Annie, at least they are baby teeth and now you know better.
You're a great mommy.

And oddly enough we were at the dentist with Mads today.

Iota said...

STOP THE GUILT. It's not as if you gave her a lolly to suck or Ribena. The choice at the time was a happy well-rested child, or a miserable tired-out one. The milk was important to her. If you'd denied her of it, you might have created all kinds of other problems (sleeping, or whatever). You did your best at the time.

The fillings might well be due to other reasons anyway. Some kids just have weaker teeth than others - there's no secret in that.

But I share your woes. My 10- year old is about to have 3 fillings - and I am beating myself up about all kinds of things to do with that (eg in Scotland our dentist didn't believe in filling milk teeth, but our one here says he should, so I don't even know if 2 of those 3 fillings are necessary or not).

But here is my trump card to make you feel better. My dentist in England (so not the Scottish one who advised not to fill milk teeth) told me that there is no sugar of a tooth-rotting kind in milk, so it is fine to give them milk at night. Admittedly that was a few years ago, but I think health advice to mothers is a bit faddish, and it is often turned on its head a few years down the road. We may well return to the "no sugar in milk" advice before long.

Life As I Know It said...

Don't beat yourself up over this! We all do what we think is best for our kids. A few fillings in the big scheme of things is not a big deal.
Ask yourself, if 10, 20 years from now, if this will matter? No!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Don't feel so bad. It was milk. It wasn't soft drinks. Where was the dentist in the middle of the night when you were exhausted with a baby and a toddler? Miss E probably won't remember this.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Iota. I'll tell you a secret. I did the same thing with my 2 youngest. Giving them some milk allowed me an hour or two or four more of sleep, and I was therefore a better mommy. That bottle may have prevented some sort of abuse! I even gave the youngest chocolate soy milk on occasion. Grams and grams of sugar. And guess what? Not one of them has ever had a cavity. Just blame luck with the ol' hard teeth genes.

There are many, many worse choices a mother can make. You'll never even know if that was the reason for the cavities. Do not beat yourself up, hon!

andi said...

I'll add to the choir of "don't beat yourself up". And remember - these are baby teeth and will fall out. You might never know she had fillings once she gets her big girl teeth.

Bananas said...

it probably means that I'm a bad person, but it makes me feel SO MUCH BETTER to read this, because I just learn that CJ needs four fillings too. And I've been beating myself up black and blue over it. But... what are you gonna do. What is, IS, right? Ugh.

MoziEsmé said...

My baby is 11 months and I am nursing her to sleep at night - and at a couple of wakeups each night, too. Am I ruining her teeth? Help! And how else am I supposed to get her to sleep now?

It's good to read all your other comments!