Breastfeeding is lonely. You’ve always got the baby with you, but it is a lonely deed. Moselle is 4 days away from 11 months old. Just in the past few weeks, I’ve felt like going out for a drink or at least wearing clothes other than those conducive to breastfeeding. As long as I’m the main source of nutrition for my child, I am confined to places where she can be and where I feel comfortable feeding her.
I made the commitment to breastfeed her well before she was born. I just knew that I was going to stick with it, for as long as she wanted to. I passed the recommended 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding with no problem and little thought about what I was doing. Shortly after Moselle turned 6 months old, I offered her solid food from my plate. The pediatrician said they need the solids just to learn texture at that age, not necessarily for nutrition. She encouraged me to keep offering breastmilk first while introducing solids.
In the past month, Moselle has been having consistent solid meals 2-3 times each day. The days that she gets 3 solid meals, I feel like I’m constantly breastfeeding her, solid feeding her, or changing her diaper. Well, that stuff and cleaning up after and feeding the cat and dog. Seriously, there’s lots of feeding and eliminating going on at my house!
I’ve only recently begun to think outside of myself and fully understand what’s been going on the past 10 months. I’ve been in a complete bubble of taking care of Moselle. I can’t say that every minute has been blissful, but I’ve been fortunate to have very few “downs” after giving birth. There’s a lot of support out there for moms that have postpartum depression, have to go back to full-time out of the house work, formula feed, and other situations. It’s a general assumption that breastfeeding, stay-at-home moms have it easy and life is puppies and rainbows. There’s some truths I’ve just had to accept:
1. I am Moselle’s grocery store. My daughter does not “do” bottles. Sure, I have an awesome deluxe breast pump and I’ve even used it more than a dozen times. Well, before the unfortunate 3-day power outage of the late spring storm that killed off my precious supply of breastmilk. I pretty much gave up building that supply when those bottles perished. I think my husband was able to feed Moselle 10 ounces of breastmilk successfully in her first 6 months of life anyway.
Because of my picky and particular child’s preferences, I was her sole source of food for her first 7-8 months. I could not leave her for longer than 4 hours at a time. And that leaving had to be carefully orchestrated so I was leaving a full-bellied happy baby with her daddy or grandma.
2. I’m not a public breastfeeder. OK, some of you who know me may be shocked because you may have pegged me as a “lactivist.” I am all for the right of women to be able to feed their babies how and when they need to, with a breast or bottle or whatever. I just prefer to duck into the backseat of my Subaru or drive back home with a crying baby and milk soaking through my clothes than feed her in public.
My exception to this is air travel. And thank god the air traveling we had to do coincided with her least wriggly times of her life.
My daughter is a peeker – if you cover her up, she wants to play peek-a-boo with you. You can imagine what happens when I try to cover her up for the sake of public breastfeeding.
3. I’m always explaining myself. “I have to leave in two hours to feed the baby” – “I can’t go out of town because she doesn’t drink from a bottle yet” – “It’s totally normal for breastfed babies to be a little thinner, the doctor said it was OK”
4. Or, I’ve given up explaining myself. As one of my favorite bloggers James Altucher says “explaining is draining.” I’ve bailed on every single “girls’ night” I’ve been invited to since Moselle was born. I missed out on a concert I really wanted to go to when Moselle was 4 months old. I wear yoga pants and t-shirts unapologetically. No, I still haven’t worn a “real” bra and I actually don’t mind it.
#3 and #4 definitely contribute to the feeling of loneliness I have lately. I’m also having mixed feelings about Moselle becoming so independent and self-sufficient. She’s been feeding herself for a few months, she started using a sippy cup this week, she sucks through a straw, she’s nearly walking, and her face is starting to look like a real toddler’s.
All at once I’m lonely because I’ve been away from adults more than a “normal” person and my daughter is showing signs of needing less of me.
(brief crying break)
I’m back. I just wanted to let you know, I am feeling feelings too.
The lonely feeling is fleeting because I can already tell my Moselle is going to be an awesome partner-in-crime. As a work-at-home mom, she’s already my “associate” and accompanies me on business outings.