anonymous writes: I travelled a lot after Perry was born and mostly not the glamorous kind of travelling to the plushness of bathrobes and sleep and company somewhere, but more travelling to cheap hotels so as to spend one or two days in the archives. I didn’t have parental leave but my husband did, a good long 9 months of it, and so this was an almost excellent arrangement involving long stretches of time at home when I wasn’t on the road, where we split the days in a leisurely kind of way. Just to be clear: I spent more time with my baby that first year than most, just in oddly broken stretches. The only problem was the milk. The first thing I’d do as I arrived in those hotel rooms was pull out a breast pump, the little hand kind, step into the shower, and unload a ton of breast milk down a dirty little drain. And then I’d stand there, all droopy and naked and alone in a shower in the middle of an afternoon, wondering if this is what travelling salesmen felt like, and thinking about how many of them had squirted bodily fluids around this room in their own frenzies of aloneness.
As I was doing this, I’d know my son was tucking into a bottle of formula, and that he’d be on a formula-only diet for the days ahead. There really wasn’t a way to save the milk, and after a few times of trying to, or of storing it up the week before I left, I didn’t want to anyway. The logistics were just too bad—involving, at one point, a full bottle of breastmilk spilt through three tiers of British Library lockers. No, what I really wanted was to be rid of that milk; to be streamlined and efficient and clean smelling as I made my way into a library, and not to have this constant physical connection to that little being I’d left behind. Who I knew was fine. Who flourished in the company of his patient and productive-householder father. The soppy feelings of absence and longing for a baby in my arms were hard, but pretty recognizable even then for what they were – no relation to the observable reality of small infants being hardy and flexible in the pursuit of company and nutrition.
Of course it was lovely to get home and hold Perry—and to feed him. The reward for all that pumping was that after three days away I could go back to feeding him. There was always a bit of a reunion in that, and I looked forward to it – at the end of a day, or a trip, away. It never seemed to worry him to have a range of liquids and teats and nipples shoved his way – he sucked quite forgivingly on all of them. And I am, after all, a lazy being who has ultimately breastfed my children because it’s seemed easiest—going right back to it when I got home was my default mode not a mission. I’m not sure what the long and the short of this is –- perhaps only that in the end nourishing each other and ourselves is hard, complex work, of which feeding a baby, in whatever way, is really the simplest part.
I love this tumblr.