baby in helmetBefore my babies were born, I took an infant care class where they warned us not to leave our babies in their car seats or bouncers too much or they could wind up with flat spots on the backs of their heads (plagiocephaly, in medical speak). They explained that it could distort their facial features and even slow down their physical development, and in severe cases, a baby might need to wear a helmet for several months. Of course, at the time, I thought, "I'd never let that happen! No, sir, my babies are going to be doing tummy time, all the time."

Flash forward several months, and there I am at the physical therapist's office, discussing my twin baby's flat head and the other baby's stiff neck.  And as she's explaining to me that they need more tummy time and shouldn't be spending so much time in their car seats, all I can think about is how I've already failed as a Mommy.

Of course, it goes without saying, that doing some stretches and repositioning with my babies is really no big deal -- that should be the worst thing that ever happens to them. Still, I really, really, really don't want my one boy to have to wear a helmet for four months. It's totally, absolutely, a vanity thing for me because he's not going to know any better. And according to the physical therapist, fixing the flat head is mostly done for cosmetic reasons anyway, so if the repositioning doesn't work, you decide what is the lesser of two evils -- a helmet on your baby for a few months or a distorted head shape (and possibly facial features) for life.

Anyway, I know that it's common and for now, we'll be shifting their heads around and doing exercises and seeing the PT once a month. But, I can't shake the feeling that I should have done better by my babies. I knew that they were spending too much time in their car seats, but when I'm alone with them and they're both hungry, that's really the only way to feed them. They don't sleep very well in their cribs during the day, so I've been putting them in their car seats or their swings where they conk out for a couple of hours. All along though, I've known that I needed to break them of the bad habit, but I kept thinking, "Well, they're still so young. It's important that they sleep. One thing at a time. I'm doing the best I can. I have twins." Now, I wonder if all of that was just excuses for lazy parenting.

I know, I know, maybe I'm being a drama queen -- have I mentioned that I'm sleep deprived? But how do I not blame myself when I knew better? All my babies need from me is to take care of them, and I feel like I've already let them down by not doing the things that I knew I was supposed to do.

Then again, it feels like there are a million things you're "supposed to do" and somehow, most of us Moms never seem to have enough time and energy to do all of them. I mean, I sometimes eat string cheese for lunch because I can't seem to get it together enough to make a sandwich. At the end of the day, even the Moms who seem to totally have it together -- whose babies sleep through the night, and take scheduled naps, and spend all day on their tummies -- must be making mistakes sometimes too, right?

As guilty as I feel, I'm trying to remind myself, for the bajillionth time, that I'm doing the best I can. I read articles on infant cues and development, contradictions and all, and try to let my maternal instincts guide me. More important, I love them and I snuggle them and I sing to them and they are thriving. I know that somewhere in their little developing hearts and minds, my baby boys know their Mommy loves them and is devoted to them. I think that, at the end of the day, the kind of love I have for them must make up for my mistakes.

Have you had moments where you felt like you failed your baby?


Image via Wondermonkey2k/Flickr