Feed on


Simon is now fourteen weeks old, and I have not been away from him for longer than a single feeding, a maximum of around 2 1/2 hours, since we brought him home on October 20.

For many mothers, especially those who bottle-fed babies or went back to work right away, this schedule appears to be restrictive. I’ve heard my current situation be referred to as being “tied down”, or even “tethered.”

And of course I am tied down. And while I know bottles will be sanity savers later on and am getting Simon used to them, I’m not too excited about this development. Truth be told, I’m enjoying being tethered. It’s a primal, intimate connection that I’ve never shared with a human being before and may never again.

Part of the reason I enjoy being tethered is that it keeps my anxiety at bay. I know that the more I nurse, the more I can ensure a good milk supply. Supply hasn’t been a problem for me, but I still worry about it. Especially now that Simon has dropped a feeding, I keep thinking that my milk will dry up, I’ll have to go to formula, and the formula will make his reflux worse. And yes, I do understand that this is catastrophic thinking. (But it could happen, right? You can’t deny the possibility.)

There are, thankfully, happier and more mentally healthy reasons I enjoy being tethered as well. Part of what I like is the hormone release that occurs while nursing that makes you feel warm and happy. That’s certainly nice–a safe, legal, and non-addictive substitute for opiates.

Another part of it–odd as this may sound–is my feeling of kinship with all the other mothers on the planet, be they people or animals. This past spring we had house wrens nest in a hanging fern on our front porch, and I checked on those eggs and chicks with an interest I had never had before. In fact, when I realized that going out the front door made mother wren fly away, I started going out the back. I really identified with this little bird! After a lifetime of trying to somehow stand out from the crowd, it’s a pleasure to start focusing on commonality.

But I think what I enjoy the most is the physical and mental tether itself. If you nurse every 2-3 hours, you really can’t do much big planning. Or, to be honest, big thinking. Days pass by in short segments that are all anchored by nursing, and the nursing itself takes about 30 minutes at each go–time you are forced to sit down with, hold, look at, and take care of your baby.

I’m a restless person. I fidget when I sit. I don’t sleep much. I’m terrible at just hanging out. I get bored and distracted easily. Nursing has introduced a new and welcome sense of stillness to my life. As this stillness has suited me so well and is so fleeting, I am reluctant to let it go even for just a few hours. I have my whole life minus one year to be untethered, for the next six months or so I plan to relish the tie that binds.

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