30 Days of Blogging, Day 13

Bed-sharing is helping my marriage.

OK, it’s way more complicated than that, but here’s the thing… When I wanted to bed share and my wife didn’t, and we tried for months to get her to stay in her crib, fighting with her, fighting ourselves at 2am when we just wanted to give up and bring her to our bed, it was hard on us. I resented my wife for pushing for Avery’s night time independence. My wife didn’t deserve resentment, and she felt like an evil outsider with me and Avery in cahoots. But baby/toddler sleep issues are tough on everything, especially marriage.

Avery still starts out the night in her toddler bed, but since she got sick again a week ago, she is welcomed into our bed after we go to bed for the night. My wife welcomes her. Avery wakes up happy in the morning, grabs her Mo by the ears, and gives her a big kiss. It makes my wife happy. We’re no longer silently fighting each other on what to do about sleep. 

Sure, we sleep toddler-width apart (which is like 5 feet, it seems), and we haven’t been giving each other the physical attention we need to give, but just being on the same side of the argument for a change is so refreshing.

*The pic is of us at my wife’s work Christmas party, free from the stress of bedtime for the first and only night of our lives as parents. 

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Sexy nursing bras – are they mutually exclusive concepts? 

When I was pregnant, I bought two nursing bras. One grey bravado with moderate support that unclips, and one la leche league sports bra style that was recommended as a nighttime nursing bra (also in drab grey). I loved both of these bras. They functioned perfectly for what they were – a garment to hold in my boobs for easy release when needed to feed a baby. 

I wore these two bras for 10 months straight. My wife (ever patient and polite about it) made a comment one day about how I needed some new bras – something not so drab, to spoil myself a little. So I bought myself a bright blue bravado unclipping style. It’s the same style as my previous bra. Nice and high, wide straps, supportive as hell… But just as the other two, so not sexy. My wife tried to be supportive, but the fact is, she was saddened by how I’d let my sexy side go completely. We’ve had some long, deep conversations about this. 

Here’s my deepest and innermost confession about my breasts after becoming a mom. When I had the baby, I lost my sex drive. I didn’t have a huge one before the baby, but as a new mom, it was totally and utterly gone. Even as my body recovered (which took about 6 months) and I started to feel like myself again, I remained first and foremost a nursing mom. My baby is and always has been a big nurser. I nurse in front of family (my poor dad and father in law don’t quite know where to look), at restaurants while I’m eating my dinner, in the car on the side of the road, in the park on the grass… I need to be able to whip ’em out for a famished baby at a moment’s notice, so it’s really hard to see my breasts as something sexual. When I need to breastfeed in front of family, the last thing I want is to feel like I’m revealing sexualized breasts to everyone.  But after a while… after a year in the same drab nursing bras with cotton pads stuffed in there to absorb milky leaks, sometimes partners will start to mourn the loss of sexualized breasts. I think this is totally fair. So is not wanting your breasts to be sexual things while breastfeeding your offspring. It’s a tough subject. 

But, as it has been almost a year, I’m slowly (painfully slowly) starting to put some effort into my appearance again. I’m starting to remember that I enjoyed looking stylish, and wearing things that made me feel sexy. So after a particularly emotional conversation with my wife, I bought two new bras from motherhood maternity as a surprise for my wife. One is a simple black bra that unclips, but it has thin straps, an underwire, and it’s low enough to not be seen under a low cut shirt. The other is a black lace bralette style. It just pulls down when I need to feed the baby, so there is really nothing “breastfeeder” about it. 

I was very hesitant about buying something like this because I was afraid of feeling yucky nursing my baby in them. I was afraid that thoughts of “these breasts are sexual things” would creep into my head while my baby was nursing. So far that hasn’t been an issue. The only challenge that remains in perfectly compartmentalizing the functional from the sexual breast is that I still leak… I need be to completely emptied and then remove the nursing pads before I can turn on the sexual switch. 

But all in all, the new bras are working their magic. 

The pressures of adulting

It’s such a Millennial kid thing to say – “adulting”. Like the responsibility of this stage if life is such a shocking adjustment from the carefree years of our youth. 

As a young adult I craved the independence and responsibility of mid-adulthood. I figured that by my 30s I’d have a career, own a house, have a kid (check), and be perfectly balanced. I thought I’d feel like I’d kicked life’s ass and would know how to have my cake and eat it too. 

But what I’ve found is that the pressure to have a balanced life is heavy. There is pressure to be able to work hard and excel in a career while also pursuing happiness and life goals and family and relaxation and hobbies…. 

This post is a personal ramble/rant (rantle?) about the pressures I feel at this stage in my life. 

I’ve been a university student for 10 years. I’ve had odd contract jobs over those years, but I haven’t brought home more than $20,000 a year in income, ever. I’m now in my 30s. I’m holding my family back from buying a house. We currently rent an amazing place that my mom owns, but we want to own. I also feel like I’m holding us back on saving for retirement, and how dare I even utter the word retirement when I haven’t “worked” for it at all yet. 

Because of my financial situation I feel like I have no control in my life anymore. Whether she thinks she does or not, my wife holds all the power in our spending decisions. I get questioned on the cost of the groceries I buy (which, believe me, is low), I get a questionable eyebrow raise when I buy an item of clothing (for myself or the baby), and I hear my wife’s frustration when friends around us buy houses on their two-person income. My wife pays my cell phone bill, so when someone suggested I try the Wonder Weeks baby app when Avery was newborn, I didn’t get it because I didn’t want to be questioned on a $2 charge on our phone bill. These little things all add up and make a severe dent in my sense of autonomy and control in my own life. 

And money is the leading cause of marital problems, so it’s not ideal to stay in this financial sore spot. 

But how can I get out of this sore spot if I don’t move forward in my PhD? I haven’t done a lick of school work during the months of May or June. I feel like I’m a 24/7 parent – even when my wife watches the baby so I can shower, I find myself listening through the bathroom door because I am so used to needing to be attuned to the baby’s needs. 

I feel annoyed at myself for my lack of work productivity because I know that the sooner I finish my PhD, the sooner I can get financial autonomy. I also receive outside pressure – my wife and my parents regularly ask how my work is going and try to give me advice on how to get work done. 

  • “Why don’t you work in the evening after the baby has gone to bed?” Oh, you mean after 2 hours of frustrated bedtime routine and a 14 hour day of being on constantly, and the 5 nonconsecutive hours of sleep I get every night? I’m sure my brain will be in tip top shape for dissertation writing. 
  • “Why don’t you let the baby play independently and do some work while she plays?” She needs constant supervision right now or she’ll pull the DVD player onto her head or eat that piece of foam playmat that the cat just ripped off… I can check emails but I can’t enter the focused land of dissertation writing while supervising a baby at play. 
  • “How can you work on your blog but not on your PhD? You need to prioritize things better.” I have prioritized things to exactly what I need to survive life right now. Baby comes first, keeping our family fed and in clean clothes comes second, self care comes third, and PhD comes fourth. I put work second during this past winter semester and I was miserable. Humans need a balance of hard work and soul replenishment. I work hard all day with the baby, and when she falls asleep in my arms I do blogging as soul replenishment. 

All of this to say, adulting can be hard. All of its parts alone are manageable, but the more you pile on the harder it gets. Work, parenting and other family responsibilities, marriage and relationships, social life, personal interests like hobbies and personal goals, money and making it or not having it, societal expectations, lack of close-knit social supports… It accumulates. 

There is no uplifting ending to this rantle. This is how it is for now. Eventually I will move through the stages – the baby will enter part time childcare, and then one day school, I will finish my PhD and one day start actually earning a solid income… Just have to take it one day at a time and try to stay positive and keep the end goal in mind.