Ear Tubes and Mom Guilt

I remember when tubes were first mentioned by our pediatrician as an option and my response was, “Well, I really don’t want to do that.” I had this anti tubes mentality like getting them meant I’ve failed Porter in some way. Like I let the bacteria win – or something stupid like that. In hindsight, my attitude couldn’t have been more irrational. Like I literally don’t know what I was thinking. Porter’s ear tubes have been the best thing that ever happened to this family.

Porter had been suffering from raging ear infections for almost three months before we made the leap into tube land. Despite being on four different antibiotics, plus a round of antibiotic shots, the relentless bacteria just wouldn’t die. The ENT said that if we didn’t do the procedure, he would likely end up with some hearing loss – which was a major wake-up call that we HAD to fix this. I knew with 99.9 percent certainty that it was the right thing to do (I still had about 0.1 percent of mom guilt).

The guilt was squashed every time I talked with supportive moms who understood and reassured me that they knew someone that knew someone who had the tubes procedure and it transformed their babies (thanks ladies – you know who you are). But there were also conversations that went more like “oh yes they tried to put tubes in my kids’ ears and I refused. I didn’t feel right about just pumping them with anti-biotics and then putting holes in their ears. So we used alternative medicine and it cured them.” Well, good for you high and mighty one. Thanks for making this already tough scenario even more difficult for me. Ryan definitely had some water works on his hands that night. Sleep deprived mom guilt is a tear guarantee.

Porter was MISERABLE. We had nights where I was literally up all night with him just crying with him crying in my arms. One of the worse feelings I’ve ever had is seeing Porter in pain – and not being able to fix it. The tubes procedure date couldn’t come fast enough, and then the guilt started to creep in that I didn’t do the tubes sooner. So to recap: I felt guilty for doing tubes, then I felt guilty for not doing them sooner. Mom guilt is relentless – I wish it would just go away and never come back. The reality is, we as moms are always trying to do what we think is best for our babes. Making decisions for a little human who can’t communicate isn’t easy. All we can do is our best – and our best IS GOOD ENOUGH. Moms with judgmental “advice” can get on outa here.

be nice or leave

Our sleepless nights didn’t end until post-tubes procedure, when Porter was eight months old. That’s eight months of no sleep, folks. My “newborn phase” of no sleep lasted longer than I ever imagined possible. We went from newborn phase, to really bad reflux issues, to ear infection hell. It wasn’t pretty, but we pushed through and came out of it stronger than ever. The tubes procedure transformed our little fuss ball into a happy, fairly easy going baby boy. He went from being in constant pain to having no pain at all. He could finally focus on just being a baby – he immediately started sleeping nine, ten, eleven hours at a time, crawling, standing, babbling more, etc. Our lives were completely transformed (for the better) and I finally understood how people could ever think of doing this all over again with a second kid.

One of the sad repercussions of Porter’s ear infections is that he stopped wanting to nurse. I mentioned this to our pediatrician and he said that was completely normal – with all the pressure build up from the ear infections, sucking on a breast was much more painful than sucking on a bottle – and due to my severe sleep deprivation, pumping just wasn’t really an option. For me, my ability to pump effectively was determined by how much sleep I got the night before. So, I resolved in my mind that I needed to get over my no formula plan. Oh and yes, my mom guilt came back with a vengeance upon making that decision. Crying ensued, etc. I was able to nurse Porter maybe twice per day during that time, so my milk supply didn’t completely deplete. After Porter’s tubes procedure was done, I tried to go back to our regular nursing schedule, but my milk supply was too low to satisfy my chunky baby’s appetite and we went down to only nursing maybe three times per day. Then suddenly, after about a month, he just stopped. Full fledged boob refusal. This is just one more example of why you can’t plan shit when it comes to kids.

Hindsight reflection:

  1. Don’t feel guilty. There’s no written formula for raising kids. Do your best and don’t be hard on yourself.
  2. NEVER make a mom feel like she’s doing something wrong when she’s clearly just trying to do what’s right. Unless you see abuse happening, keep your mouth shut if you don’t have anything supportive to say.
  3. Don’t make someone feel bad for using formula. There are a thousand and one reasons why a mother is giving her baby formula. Just worry about yourself and your own journey.
  4. Tubes are fantastic.
In surprisingly good spirits before surgery

In surprisingly good spirits before surgery


first time pulling himself up on something other than his crib bars


being silly with mom 🙂


just being an all around happy kid with his favorite bowl to chew on