I do nothing slowly — nay, I race from one task to the next, knowing full well the advice hammered into my soul by those who have passed this particular season of life to “just slow down” and “enjoy it now” — but I can’t exactly do that unless I want to live a life of unlaundered clothes, starving children, and bills I can not pay.
You see, I am a breastfeeding mother. And through no fault but my own, I am also a breastfeeding mother who works from home and who has failed to get her past two babies on the bottle, which means only one thing:
I am trapped by my baby.
Oh, sure, I am grateful breastfeeding has worked for us and I love the bond it brings and blah, blah, blah, but if I’m being completely honest with you here, I also fight the feelings of resentment that it’s a journey I am taking completely solo in life. Day in and day out, night waxing and waning, it is me who bears the responsibility of my baby’s existence, who feels the sole weight of her entire being in my leaking breasts — it is me who gets blamed if the baby is too fussy, too gassy, too chubby, too skinny, too poopy, too sleepy, too spoiled, too hungry.
Living my life in two- or three-hour increments is hard. It’s hard to get anything done, it’s hard because I always feel stressed that I need to go-go-go the second after she’s fed and I have a moment of peace in the house. It’s a feeling that’s hard to communicate to anyone else who hasn’t lived it, most especially to my husband because I look at him sometimes when he’s home with me and the kids and I want to scream, “It must be nice to be the one who gets to say, “Here honey, the baby’s crying.”
I’m always the default. I don’t get a break or a person to look to when the baby is crying. I am the solution. And sometimes, that’s hard.
I find myself horrified by my feelings, because deep down, of course, I love that special bond and no one has forced this path upon me. I choose to breastfeed because I want to and maybe just a little because I would feel unbearably, crushingly guilty if I didn’t do so.
People don’t always get it. Just pump and have someone else give her a bottle, they say. It’s not that big of a deal!
But honestly, it is that big of a deal. I am home 24/7 with my children — I never leave them, my husband works a lot of weekends, and when I need help, I hire a babysitter to come here while I work. So finding the time or means to pump simply evades me. If I want to try to “take a break” and get out of the house — well, my boobs don’t exactly go on break, people. They still fill up no matter how determined I am to leave them behind. So there really is such thing as a “break” for a breastfeeding mom, unless you count having your breasts mechanically suckled as relaxing. (And hey, maybe you do.)
At this point in, I feel too far in to ever stop and too far gone to have hope of actually getting her to take a bottle. It feels like more work to bust out the pump, clean it, store the milk, and fight her than it is to simply pop that boob in her mouth.
So for right now, I am trapped by breastfeeding. It’s a trap I have willingly placed myself into, but it’s there nonetheless. I am trapped by the thought that I am doing this to myself and I am trapped by the guilt I feel for failing either way — failing to get the baby on a bottle or failing to find that exact balance of breastfeeding without letting it completely take over my life.
But then again, maybe breastfeeding is like motherhood and there really is no such thing as a “right” balance — but a season that shall pass all too soon while I’m busy simultaneously loving and hating it.