Being able to breastfeed my child has been a blessing. I am not naive to the fact that not everyone is able or willing to go down this road, but for me, I'm proud I can. It has been an amazing way for us to bond.
I knew it would be a commitment, a real commitment. I'm still mindful of my caffeine intake and I don't feel like I can enjoy that glass of wine whenever I want. But it was hard to visualize the true dedication it would require before I was in it.
Even more than being pregnant, breastfeeding is a full-time job. And this job comes with a demanding schedule. It's one of the things that surprised me most about breastfeeding.
Because no one prepared me for how I would live my life in 3-hour increments.
My days and nights are on a three hour Groundhog Day-like cycle. Somehow days turn into nights, and back into days again, almost without me noticing. With a child who nurses 8 to 10 times in a day, life feels a little chaotic right now.
Just getting out of the house has come to feel like a real chore. One that is almost too daunting. But in an effort to not go stir crazy, I've learned to get smart about my escapes into the world: Preparation is key.
I plan my errands around a breastfeeding-friendly location.
If I have a lot to do and need to get out of the house for an extended period of time, I plan my midpoint to be a place where I know I can easily breastfeed. The car is a great backup, in a pinch, but definitely not ideal. So Buy Buy Baby, with their lovely nursing and changing room, is my midpoint. (It also happens to be next to my favorite grocery store, which is a bonus.)
So my day often goes something like this:
Feed my baby at home. By the time I nurse, burp and change my son's diaper then hold him upright for 10 to 15 minutes (reflux mamas, you know what I'm talking about) an hour has flown by. Then I grab my bag, load him in his car seat and head out. I run to the pharmacy, get a cup of coffee and run an extra errand like getting my car washed. Then, just like that, it's time for my little human to eat again! I head to Buy Buy Baby, feed and change my little guy, then browse the store. Because, while I'm here, why not?! I have found that I typically need (at least) one thing there anyway. Then, I head to the grocery store. Using this nursing friendly midpoint helps me extend my outing by at least an hour.
The same rules apply to being at home.
Nurse, burp, change. The clock starts ticking. About two hours until his next feeding. While he naps, I can conquer the around-the-house tasks—prep dinner, even if it's 11 am. Throw in a load of laundry, which is often forgotten about for a day or two (and will need to be washed again). Take a fast shower—a sweet moment to myself. I amaze myself at what I can accomplish while the clock is ticking.
But then, in a blink, it is time to nurse again.
With this being my second time around, I know this time is so short.
Is it a huge commitment? Yes. Do I feel like I'm on a hamster wheel? Yes. Am I utterly exhausted? Yes. Do I wish some days that someone else in my house could produce milk from their body, too? Yes. Do I yearn to leave the house more often? Yes.
But so goes motherhood.
He needs me right now. I am his lifeline. So I soldier on, in three hour blocks of time. And then, just like that I will blink, and he will be walking into preschool. No longer needing me so frequently during the day. No longer wanting to snuggle up for those nursing sessions. No longer my baby boy. So for now, I'll hold on, just a little bit longer.