Nursing in through the looking glass.

  • Jan. 6, 2022, 10:34 p.m.
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  • Public

I know I’m struggling when I start to feel jealous of pregnant people. I don’t actually want to be pregnant. I just want to be taken care of, and pregnancy is the only time in my life where that’s truly felt like a reasonable expectation. I even look back on the day of the D&C for my missed miscarriage fondly. The day nurses spoke to me kindly and wrapped me in warm blankets and brought me ginger ale. It’s pitiful, but where else am I going to find such kindness?

These last few weeks have been really hard.

Between the holidays, snow, and quarantine, my son hasn’t had childcare for most of the past two weeks. I find myself looking at my watch every evening, usually a good two hours before bedtime, and despairing. I’ve dreaded every predicted snow day. And I feel so tremendously guilty and sad about it.

And then we took my daughter to the pediatrician yesterday. Her weight gain has completely stalled, prompting questions about my supply, her nursing habits, and yet another follow up appointment. I knew I wasn’t drinking enough water and that nursing sessions had been fairly short, but my bandwidth was limited and everything seemed OK, so I didn’t put too much thought into it. Turns out I haven’t been meeting my child’s most basic need. So today I started nursing her on both sides every time and she’s been feeding for twice as long. I feel awful.

Today my husband and I talked about the possibility of me quitting my job. It’s still not clear when/if we’ll get a spot at the daycare, and even if we do continued COVID quarantines could make it untenable anyway. I just don’t think it’s worth it enough to me anymore to try to juggle both a full-time job and full-time childcare again. My husband’s job is probably the less fulfilling one between the two of us, but he makes more money and has better health insurance options. We live well below our means and I think I would enjoy being a stay-at-home parent, at least for a time, so this is a real option. Thinking about my current job, I originally wanted it in part for the paid family leave, the solidly 40 hour week, and the short commute. I don’t need the paid family leave anymore and down the line I think I would likely be able to find other government jobs that fit the other two criteria. But this was also my dream job, finally getting to apply my experience in research and guidance as a practitioner. And now, five years in, I’m considered an expert in my field and my input is sought in local, regional, and national spheres. That sounds great and all, but the day to day is often highly frustrating and I’m not actually sure I enjoy it anymore. For months I’ve been daydreaming but not seriously considering a major career change. A baker? A nurse? A preschool teacher? So perhaps I take this time, until my daughter turns one and no longer needs to nurse, which also coincides with the time my son will hopefully start in our city’s free preschool program, and reassess then. If we’re still in the midst of impossible quarantine protocols, I could continue to stay home. Otherwise, I could start exploring options, from a new job in my field to a total career change, maybe a part time job? I don’t think my current role or anything close to it would be open to me if I left, so that does give me pause. And even though I’m way less caught up in the traditional idea of “success” these days than I once was, any of this would be a tremendous deviation from a lifetime of personal and put-upon expectations, and I think I’d still have a really hard time fighting against the idea that I’ve failed in some way. Also, I’m aware that I likely wouldn’t be considering any of this at all if it weren’t for the ongoing pandemic, and that I might end up forcing tough transitions on my family because I, perhaps rather stupidly, believed that if we conceived when we did that the worst of this would be behind us by the time our child was born. A lot to consider here, mostly just a thought exercise for now, but March is not that far off.

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