I adore my husband. I often say that he’s the only person I can be with every day and never get sick of his face – I suppose that’s important considering we’ve agreed to spend the rest of our lives together. We never refer to each other as “the old ball and chain”, in part because it’s rude, but also because it’s not true. We give each other plenty of space, spend time in the day apart, and never restrict each other’s activities. So no, my husband isn’t a ball and chain… but my baby sorta is.
The ball and chain was originally a physical restraint, but the idiom evolved into a burden or restraint in the form of a wife or job – something you can’t get away from. As I type this, I am holding Harley. She prefers to be held for hours every day, and in the past week I’ve probably spent about an hour apart from her. In total. And there’s no chance I can get early parole for good behavior.
Okay, so I’m not attached to her all day like a real ball and chain, but it certainly feels like that sometimes. Breastfeeding is wonderful and has been great for our bonding… BUT, it also means that I’m holding Harley every 2-3 hours (or even more often) in order to nurse her. Nursing her usually means about 20 minutes on the boob, followed by at least that long spent cuddling, burping and soothing her. If I’m lucky, she falls back to sleep after eating. However, plenty of times she will nurse, cry and need burping, and then just want to be held for a while. All told, I’m probably holding her for 8-12 hours a day depending on her sleep patterns. The rest of the time, I’m listening out for her – checking if she’s crying or fussing.
Yesterday, Dean and I went out for a drink at our complex clubhouse with our awesome friends and Harley’s godparents, Stacey and Brad. It was a huge relief that Stacey likes to hold Harley, and meant that I had a little bit of time to relax and not worry about her. But once she started her evening fussiness, I had to nurse her and soothe her. It was still a nice evening with them, but another reminder that this is my life for the next bunch of years – no going out without the little one along for the ride. Sure, as she gets bigger I’ll be more comfy leaving her with someone, but she just isn’t there yet. And the fact that I’m breastfeeding means that I’m also bound to her as the food source. I could pump and leave bottles if necessary, but it adds so much admin and hassle to the whole experience.
It’s not totally bad or anything. I really am bonding with Harley; she is making me laugh more and I am feeling so fond of her much of the time that it’s okay to hold her for hours every day. But sometimes it’s exhausting, and I just want a few hours in my own head. Sometimes, I just want to feel like my body and mind are my own, instead of always having an ear out for her cries and an arm out to comfort her. Then again, by the time she’s independent enough for me to get those things, I’ll probably be so accustomed to this ball and chain that I’ll miss it.