Late this morning I nipped out to the framers to deliver a work for mounting. It was a spontaneous decision: my husband was home to look after the baby, while weekend traffic would make driving to Rosebank less painful; the thought of accomplishing this task while I had the baby with me was too overwhelming, so I grabbed the chance to get something done.
The baby was fed (bottle and top up boob) before I left. I hadn’t expressed for the next feed – I’ve been battling to keep up – but I calculated that I had some two hours’ grace before she needed to eat again. Off I went.
I was wrong, of course. While standing in the queue at Herbert Evans, where I’d bought a birthday present for my stepdaughter – she turns 9 later this month – I got a call from my husband.
“You have a hungry baby,” he said, over the sound of crying.
Shit, I thought.”Already?” I said. This was an hour and a half ahead of schedule.
It took me more than half an hour to get home, half an hour of all sorts of messy emotions. Panic. Intense regret (your mother is a complete shit, Ra-Ra) and resentment that it’s impossible to do anything when one is breast feeding a baby. Breast feeding, I’ve discovered, is your life. It has to be; there is no room for anything else. If you’re not feeding, you’re expressing. If you’re not expressing – willing the sodding pump to work faster and your underperforming boob to step up to the plate – you’re sterilizing bottles. And so it goes, day in and day out. Nights too.
(I had wanted, of all ridiculous things, to bake a cake for my mother today, who’s coming for tea tomorrow. It’s been a long time since I’ve baked. Not going to happen. Probably just as well because, you know, carbs and all that, but still I’m somewhat bitter about it.)
It’s 4.30 now. I’ve been expressing for the past hour and a three quarters and I still don’t have enough for two feeds. (How I’m going to manage when I have to go back to work, I don’t know. Just the thought sets off a limpid wave of anxiety waiting to crash over my head.) The next big test will be Tuesday, when I have to appear on a panel at an FMCG marketing conference in Newtown. There, I can’t just drop everything because the baby is hungry.
Managing means planning ahead, which means I’m going to have to spend every spare moment over the next two days hooked up to a breast pump. Breast, as we all know, is best. I never expected breast feeding to be one of the hardest and most frustrating things I’ve ever attempted. I’ve got the Jungle Juice. I’ve got the Eglonyl. And I’m still struggling. Small wonder that so many women give up.