Boy Meets World Star Danielle Fishel Gets Real About Her Mom-Guilt

“The next time you see a mom with her baby, tell her she’s doing an amazing job. Because you are, mama.”
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By Nehal Aggarwal, Editor
Published October 15, 2019
actress danielle fishel opens up about the trauma of having her newborn in the nicu
Image: Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

Most moms are no stranger to mom-guilt. Try as we might, the nagging thoughts of not being good enough for our child somehow always seem to be right below the surface when something gets hard. Boy Meets World star and new mom Danielle Fishel has experienced that guilt first-hand, and she opens up about her struggles in a recent essay.

In the piece, which Fishel penned for Good Morning America, she admits that before getting pregnant, she swore she’d never allow herself to feel mom-guilt. “Then I had a baby,” she wrote.

Fishel and her husband, comedian Jensen Karp, welcomed baby Adler, their first child, on June 24—four weeks before his due date. In an Instagram post announcing Adler’s arrival, Fishel explained her water broke on June 20, when Adler was only 35 weeks old. She was put on sodium magnesium to stop her contractions, so baby’s lungs could fully develop. But an x-ray done by her OB found her son had fluid in his lungs. Seventy two hours later, her OB induced labor due to a significant decrease in amniotic fluid.

“We feel helpless and powerless and useless and we wanted so badly to follow our “birth plan,” unsurprisingly none of which involved leaving our beautiful baby boy at the hospital for the first weeks of his life,” she wrote in the post.

“The guilty thoughts came flooding into my head: ‘Why did my water break so early? Was it because I was on my feet working 12-plus hour days at almost 36 weeks? Was it all the spicy food I had been craving? Did I do something that will hurt my baby?’” she wrote in her recent essay.

The guilt got worse when she found out the fatty nature of her breast milk (which Adler was drinking from a tube) only made the fluid in his lungs increase. She felt like not being able to feed baby from her body was somehow her fault, Fishel shared.

As if the difficult birth and complications during breastfeeding weren’t enough source of guilt, Fishel felt it again when, in September, she made the decision to go back to work. “I came home after being away for 12 hours and Adler was asleep for the night,” she wrote. “As I cried over his sweet sleeping face, the guilt came back with a vengeance. ‘Does he remember me? Does he think I abandoned him? Am I hurting my son by desiring a career outside the home? Am I selfish?’”

Despite the guilt, Fishel is trying to stay positive about her role as a new mom. In a subsequent post to Instagram, she honored Adler’s original due date. She had downloaded The Bump app once she found out she was pregnant and learned her baby at four weeks was the size of a poppyseed. “From that day on, for the rest of my pregnancy, Jensen and I called him ‘Poppyseed,’” she said. “Today is Poppyseed’s due date and while spending the first few weeks of his life in the NICU made us feel like so many days were stolen from us, as I sit here this morning thinking about the fact that I very well could have still been pregnant with him makes me realize how lucky we are to have had ‘bonus time’ with our little man.”

For all the new moms who deal with guilt, Fishel sees you and supports you. “One thing I know for certain each and every mother has in common: We are trying our absolute best 100% of the time,” she shared in her essay. “The next time you see a mom with her baby or young child, look her in the eye and honestly tell her she’s doing an amazing job. Because you are, mama. I see you and you’re doing great."

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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