It’s very strange to be in Denver without my baby. Miles has been such a part of my body, such a constant attachment to my person since the day he was conceived. I find it strange that the phrase “with child” doesn’t continue to apply to women once their babies are born. If anything, I am even more with child now than when he was inside me.
Especially because I am home with him full time, I am rarely physically separated from him. We are often (because he so loves to nurse) still literally connected to one another, a lifeline of milk.
I am feeling pretty proud of myself for not breaking down in my first absence from him, my first time without child. It feels so foreign now, I wonder that I know how to exist this way anymore. I have teared up once or twice upon receipt of a text message or particularly cute picture, but have been for the most part energized by the community of writers here.
And there is also the fact that I am not, actually, without child. There is the ever-present issue of my milk and the goings on of my breasts. I am not at liberty to enjoy this conference the way someone without child might. Because I chose breasfteeding, I am realizing more and more that I chose an entirely different lifestyle than our American culture calls mainstream.
Here is the reality of my day, punctuated though it might have been by amazing, stimulating discussion and fantastic social interactions:
–wake up, immediately pump my breastmilk
–prepare baggies of ice to stuff in the cooler to chill the pumped milk
–drag rolling suitcase through convention center, filled with pump, batteries, cords, cooler, cleaning cloths for pump, spare vessels to store the pumped milk, and the pumped milk itself
–locate the lactation room I’ll visit every few hours fur the duration of my stay
–leave lunch meeting early to rush off and pump my breastmilk
–squirm through dinner as my aching breasts fill with my son’s food
–turn in to the hotel early rather than attend keynote reading to relieve my bursting, bursting breasts that weep the milk my body has made
I may have thought I left Miles at home (content with my mother), but the reality is I cannot leave him. Until he is weaned, really and finally separated from my body, there is no escaping him. I don’t mean this to sound like I feel shackled to him. I think this realization is a happy one. Our bodies still need each other, you see.But the power of his need for me, and mine for him, fills me with a mixture of fear/anxiety/love/power.
There is no “on hold” from motherhood. Imagine a job from which you cannot rest, not for a moment. Such physical work, this task of mothering. If it’s not the diaper bag I lug, it’s the Purely Yours pump. If it’s not the weight of his wiggly body, I carry the weight of his breakfast. Always carrying, always the physical load.
Even a half a continent away, I am still with child. My rolling suitcase sits ready by the door, awaiting another full day of pretending, of feet propped up on this smart-looking luggage. I wonder what people think I have in there? It seemed so much easier when I carried him as a round, round moon beneath my shirt.