I’m Only Wearing One Shirt

I’ve been wearing two shirts, almost always, since Gabe was born. It was a necessity for nursing without having it all hanging out and for pumping at work so I wasn’t totally topless. Just pull one shirt up, and pull the neck of my undershirt down. It was so simple, but did require planning sometimes to layer the right pieces together. I’ve only been wearing one shirt the past 3 weeks. It feels odd, but putting on two shirts doesn’t feel right either.

I’ve made it 24hrs since I last had to pump. I can’t decide when to push the envelope to just stop or to keep it up for fear of the ache and tingle that might turn into a plugged milk duct or mastitis. I’ve only had one plugged duct in over 3.5 years and no mastitis. I’ve really been lucky and spared many of the common breastfeeding ailments and challenges. It’s probably been a contributing factor for my lack of motivation to do anything other than nurse on demand since Gabe was born.

The swinging of hormones from suddenly no longer nursing, and only pumping to control the overflow and wean down, has been a ride. It’s not a fun ride on top of the turmoil of grief and loss. As someone that preferred to mother in a symbiotic relationship with her baby, it’s been like losing a limb, a part of my being, a crucial element for a functional life. It’s leaving me without a keel to balance on and making me a rather miserable wife, and only a mediocre mother right now.

Tonight Gabe is sleeping in my bed. We are planing to paint his room tomorrow morning and have all the furniture removed. The sound of him sleeping and breathing keeps making me roll over, reach over, look over and expecting it to be Milo. Wishing and willing him to just be there too. I want to hear that stuttered sound of breath that babies suck in when you touch or disturb them a little and then quickly settle back down from. I really have moments where I feel like any minute someone will reveal it’s all been a mistake and I can have him right back. I have envisioned in my mind all the things I would feel and do if he was handed back to me right this moment.

The first thing I would do? Nurse him. Cuddle him up next to me and wait for that tingling rush sensation through my body and sound of him gulping as his eyes close, and his face and body relax into bliss. He would be in his most coveted and protected position he knew. I would grab his little hand and hold it firmly, look at his fingers wrapped around mine, and gently kiss them. It’s a mundane moment that would happen many times a day, and yet each time magical.

I just miss it so much. I miss him infinitely. I feel like I will never, ever miss him any less and in order to be normal I have to forcibly ignore how much I miss him, and I still have constant little bursts of panic over where he is. Even as I write this, it keeps tapping into deeper and deeper levels of realization of how not fine I am.

It just amazes me that I am still functioning on the surface and that Antonio is still getting up and going to work every day. I don’t know how he does it. I can’t even get my act together to make a meaningful trip to the grocery store or put all the laundry away. I keep having random body pain and odd bouts of nausea and stomach upset. At the end of each day I just feel like I’ve been put through a wringer, and yet I’m probably still wearing the pajamas from the night before.

So here I sit, in my one shirt. The same shirt I had on last night when I sat and let my thoughts run wild, wept, and didn’t sleep then either.

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