I have some wonderful friends. Some of them have come through for me in massive ways, supporting me while Harley was in the NICU, coming over for wine or meeting for lunches since she’s been home, and generally just being awesome and supportive. I remember trying to do the same when I had friends with babies – going to their house if easier, being the one to reach out more because I figured they were busy, that sorta thing. It just makes me sad to realize that I’m also losing friends now.
Before Dean and I decided we wanted to spawn a minion, he told me that I could choose, kids or cats. I opted for cats, and we have two adorable furry babies. Unlike those little ones, though, it seems that procreating has gotten in the way of my social life. At least for some friends. But I’m wondering how much of a bad thing that is.
There was never any doubt in my mind that I wanted to breastfeed my little one. Before I knew that I was having a little girl, I knew that I wanted to nurse her. Back then, there were so many reasons that I thought I knew – it was healthier, “breast is best” and it’s free. What more could I want? Besides, I figured that my mom was a La Leche League leader back in the day, so she could help me if I ran into any problems. So, with everything sorted, I figured that was that. But it’s been so different than I imagined.
First of all, I never would have thought that my first couple months on this journey would mean pumping instead of nursing. Thanks to Harley being so premature and in the NICU for 5 weeks, I had to pump for her and deliver the milk every day. Then she came home and simply wouldn’t latch. I was devastated about it, but at least she was still getting the good stuff with the pumping. Thankfully, once she was a bit bigger, she latched like a champ, and has been a boobie monster ever since. That has come with its own unique ups and downs.
Back when I was pregnant, I wrote about sex. At the time, things were a bit weird and awkward. My libido was pretty much normal, and physically I was enjoying sex more than ever thanks to increased blood flow below the waist. However, Dean and I were both struggling with some psychological issues with sexy time – it was weird that my orgasm would give Harley the same chemicals to her brain as it does to mine, and Dean didn’t like that proximity of his member to the tiny baby inside me. I was worried that this was a taste of what was to come. Were we going to develop a madonna/whore complex together, making future intimacy impossible?
Since Harley has been born, things have changed, obviously. I am way, way more tired than I ever imagined that I would be. I knew that a baby would be tiring, but it’s exhausting in a whole other way. You see, it’s not just sleep deprivation. In fact, Harley is mostly sleeping through the night, only waking up once or twice for quick feeds and then back to sleep. However, after a day of bouncing, singing, reading, changing nappies, nursing and whatever else, I am pretty much shattered. When the little on goes down for the night, I’m not far behind on getting into bed. I hardly ever even read before sleep, and finding time for intimacy is more tricky, but not impossible.
It has been an interesting journey, this mothering thing so far. I’ve thought about a range of things, from not letting my baby “cry it out”, how I gauge our time together, how I assess her progress, and even when and how I will start weaning her. I knew I wanted to raise a genius and a bookworm, as well as a woman who is strong and empowered while still compassionate and loving. I have so many big dreams for Harley, and so many ideas about parenting. But the latest visit from my mom has solidified a bunch of them, and expanded some others even more.
A bit of context – my mom and I are close. We have obviously had our fair share of squabbles or whatever – I don’t know any woman who matures to adulthood without having the teenage fights with her mom – but we got very close when my parents divorced. After my traumatic birthing story, we talked every day on Skype, and have continued to do so ever since. So we are “caught up” as far as telling each other the day to day stuff goes, but also as far as talking about the bigger issues or stories. But it’s still so different being in person.
I love South Africa. It is my home and Dean and I have been very happy here. We have built a wonderful, comfy life with our little home, our cats, our daughter. We lead a pretty cushy lifestyle, too, with plenty of sushi, nights out, special gifts and whatever else our hearts desire. Both of us have fantastic jobs that we love, and we are just so happy. So why, why are we talking about emigrating?
Just a few months ago, I told all of you that we weren’t thinking about moving. Every country has its issues and there was no compelling reason to even look at leaving South Africa – why move when we have it so good here? Well, I still think that every country has its problems, and we need to feel our way through this decision, but the more I think about Harley’s future, the more I think that we should probably move somewhere else.