Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My World Strapped Against My Back

I feel like a turtle, or at least a bag lady. I see, in my near future, becoming the woman who wears sneakers with her work clothes. I vow not to wear pantyhose with slouch socks, with or without cross-trainers. Never.

This morning I toured my alternate work location with one of my managers. She showed me multiple ways to get there, told me when the close parking spots open up, made sure I could find the bathroom and walked me through the cafeteria. I have four work phone numbers, four computers, four monitors, three work e-mail addresses, two desks in two separate buildings, three managers, one me. How will they ever find me? How will I ever remember where I'm supposed to be and when, and how will I actually get there? I figure that most of the time the phone numbers and email addresses will be useless. I'll be in my car, praying for a parking space or worse, I'll be hiking through acres of asphalt trying to get to where I'm already supposed to be. Which, of course, is everywhere, and never soon enough.

Yesterday I might have snapped, just a little, at The Boy. On the phone from work he told me he wasn't sure when he'd be home. "I wish I could just say, 'oh, I'll get there when I get there.'" I complained. Of course I know he is not gallivanting; he's at work. But even if I had to work late, I couldn't. Because a little girl waits for me, and her day ends at 5:00. She is always ready for me to come; when I scoop her up she hugs me tight around the neck, which is her new trick that I hope she never outgrows. By the time I heave her carrier up the stairs and to the car she is usually, against all bumpy odds, asleep. This is what we do. And I recognize that the opportunity to work later would result in less time with my baby every evening, and the time we have is already limited and busy and cranky. I can't imagine having less. But still.

Sunday, after months of agonizing, I decided to start weaning. And maybe what I really mean is that I decided to stop pumping for minimal effect and call this process what it is. I looked up the definition, and there are two. The first, "to accustom (as a young child or animal) to take food otherwise than by nursing" really started happening long ago. Because my supply was low, we have been supplementing with formula for the last three months, which initiated the process. Mirabella has been rejecting me increasingly over that time. The mornings were our last remaining feeding, and though they will be the last to go, they will be gone soon and already involve a bottle anyway. The second definition of weaning seems more appropriate, "to detach from a source of dependence." And this is why I cried myself to sleep on Sunday.
My baby doesn't need me. Sure, she prefers me, for now. But anyone can feed her. Anyone could care for her. So I am wearing a regular (if ill-fitting) bra today, but it doesn't feel as freeing as I thought it would. I don't feel like I'm there when I'm supposed to be; sometimes I feel like I'm missing it all. Nursing was the only thing that was all mine; it was something only I could give my baby. So that's part of it. But maybe more than that, I've never tried so hard at something and failed so miserably at it. Somewhere outside myself, I know this is harsh and not entirely true, but this is how it feels. Not good enough. Not the best for my daughter. I failed.
Sunday night I soaked my pillow and threw fistfulls of tissues on the floor. I told The Boy, "The change in hormones means I'll get my period again and it could lead to depression, so you have to watch out for me."

"So…this crying at night thing…" he said carefully.

"Once is okay," I sniffled, "every day means there's a problem."

Certainly there are things I won't miss, and definitely the "bonding" aspects of nursing are long gone for us. My baby doesn't like to drink from the tap, I have joked, she prefers her brew bottled, but I don't really think it's funny.

When I started work in March, and when we realized Mirabella wasn't gaining weight because I didn't have what she needed, I prayed that I would be able to make it to six months. Sunday was her half-birthday, so I made it, but just barely. I know there are aspects of having my body to myself again that I will enjoy. I will frantically shuttle between these new stations in my life, more places to go, but one less bag to carry.


Mindy said...

i'm sure it doesn't help... but i really like turtles! =)

undercover celebrity said...

Ugh, that was completely heart breaking. I think every woman has been in a similar emotional state of knowing that the cause of your distress is beyond your control, but feeling less-than-perfect anyway.

...the good news is that you are completely succeeding as a mom when you raise little M to be independent.

...as if that's a consolation right now :)

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