Thursday, November 21, 2013

Breastfeeding my children has hurt my marriage...

As much as I hate to say this aloud, and I wouldn't (and won't) change a single second of my nursing journey, I do believe that breastfeeding my children has really (really, really, really) hurt my marriage.

I know, dramatic, right?

Well, this is how I believe this all came about...

First, we got married, thought it would be fun to just practice and not really try.  That didn't work.

Then we started to try.  That didn't work.

(Enter stress levels rising...)

Then what we used to think was fun, wasn't fun anymore and it wasn't working.

(More stress...)

So then, we sought help from doctors and procedures.  That didn't work.

We got disconnected, we were just doing the deed to make a baby and not to enjoy it.  It was a lot of work and it still wasn't working.

(Soooo much stress here.... we just didn't know what to do but give up... have faith and let it just work itself out...)

Then something happened... a series of things.  We got pregnant!

Then we lost that pregnancy at 8.5 weeks.

After 5 years of trying and failing to finally succeed and then fail... talk about a roller coaster.

(Hit rock bottom...)

Then we tried again and were so hopeful it would work again, and it did!

Then we had our son.

(Sweet sweet sweet success!)

Five months later, we were just getting back into having some fun and not always child focused and we got pregnant again.  Surprise!  It works when you least expect it to.

And then we had our daughter.

(Holy cow!)

Now, to tell you a little TMI... I'm huge into the "prep work" that leads to everything else but while nursing, those "prep work" activities were off limits because I basically wanted to keep my bra or shirt on the whole time because my boobs were not a sexy place anymore... just a source of nutrients.  Way to kill the mood, right off the bat, right?

So, there's that... Then the fact that because of nursing, I was able to bond with our kids differently than my husband.  Let's talk about this for a minute.

When you're nursing, or if you're like me when you're nursing, it's your pride and joy.  You do it all the time because that's what you're supposed to do for your baby and really that's all they want right away anyway.  So that bond between mother and baby happens/continues from the moment they are born.  Nursing only solidifies that connection.  Unfortunately from a dad's perspective, they almost feel shafted and because there isn't really a "need" for them to always be home or with the baby, they resume life as normal, pre baby.

But what about you, right?  Well, then comes in the, I don't want to do anything but be with my kids because it's so much work to do anything different or involve someone else.  And I don't really want to go out and drink because I'm going to be "needed" when I get home and I don't want to have to pump when I'm out, so let's just leave late... but that's annoying because I'll still have to get up in the morning and it'll be so exhausting... So, I would just choose to stay home, because my kids are my priority...  I'm not saying that they aren't my husband's priority, I just know that a nursing mom vs. a new dad... their are different priorities.

(Stress.)

So, I let go of my social life because it's not worth not nursing my kids to have a drink or to be away from them.  Maybe that's not a healthy way of thinking, but it's just what I decided to do.

And unfortunately, a long time ago, I decided that I wouldn't be the wife to tell my husband no or what to do.  He needed to figure those things out for himself and I had faith that while they wouldn't always be my choices, he would choose what to do and whatever was best for him and (hopefully) our family.


Through two children, infant stages and all... Sean was living life normally (for the most part.  I'm not trying to make him sound like he was just lolly-gagging around, but he wasn't at home nursing, you know?)  As any dad would.  His life wasn't really being limited because he wasn't the one having to nurse or comfort or just be 100% aware of every move that baby was making.  It's a motherly thing that women are just wired for... It's nothing a new dad can really tune into, it's just not their bag...

(My shoulder is going to fall off.  STRESS.)

As I'm starting to near the end of my nursing journey with my second, I'm starting to become really aware of the fact that I really don't have a lot going on socially, outside of my kids.  I mean, sure, I take family pictures for fun on some weekends or evenings, I teach classes about healthy living and alternative medicines, but socially..... Socially, I talk on the phone or through Instagram or through FB messaging to my "friends".  Socializing outside of the house with real people, that doesn't really happen. Ever.

It's sad to know that I gave my all to my kids only to have everything around me and that I loved before kids, fail.  It's not their fault.  It's just a transitional stage in life that is really hard to adjust to and I'm struggling.

Being married has proven to be really difficult, lately. I know it's not meant to be easy, but again, this transition is just been hard.  We go all day long, when we get home, we do everything for the kids and when we try to squeeze in something small for ourselves, like working out or something, it rocks the routine and immediately puts everyone in a foul mood.  It's a tough spot to be in and continually reminds us that being married is really hard.

(STREEEEEEEESSSSSSS.)

My husband has made several comments about stopping my nursing journey and "when's that going to happen?" comments were starting to hurt a bit.  I thought I'd just continue until Emie wishes to stop and I wasn't going to stop just because I think my husband thinks it's time.  We have to agree and come up with a plan together, not just have one person call the shots, unless it's Emie.  But, with the dr requesting the pacifier to be gone at 18 months, I figure, I'll end nursing just before we do that...  I don't know.  It's not my call.  She's been cutting back considerably that I believe that it will just drop off... right?

Why do those comments come to me and why does he say them to me like that?  Because he's jealous?  Because it's time consuming?  Because he just wants his wife back that isn't locked into nursing his child all night long? Because he's just thinking it's time?  I don't know.


With all of this said, this is the reason I feel like I'm struggling to be a good wife and while our marriage is hurting right now...  I'm on board about the fact that I've lost myself.  It's a tough spot to be in but I've become a mom (my dream come true) and my priorities changed. I've got a lot of work to do on myself and until that happens, it's going to be a little rocky.

It's a really sucky place to be and I (we) have a lot of work to do.

Just remember, after it's all said and done... While I am over the moon about nursing my kids, I recognize now where I should've taken care of myself along the way.  Because of that, I'm just struggling to "find myself" again.

I used to be a really fun person with fun things to do and fun people around me... I miss fun Jill.  She was a good time.

I'm sad that through all of our trials, we neglected to really take care of our marriage and ourselves.  We went through a lot of heartache but we just kept going, knowing that it would all work out... only forgetting about all the stress that would build on top of the heartache that would really rock the boat after months and years of neglect.

There's some jealousy that fluid my mind... Sean was out having a good time, all the time and I was home choosing not to do those things.  At the time, it just seemed right and I don't know what I would do now differently if I had another child because those times with my kids, I will never forget them and I could never replace them with something else.

Becoming a mom is one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me.  I'm beyond thankful for the person that I'm becoming, but remembering that I matter just as much as everyone else is something I'm forgetting to pay attention to.  I'm aware, but I still have some recovery to do.

I have faith.

I have faith.

I have faith that things will work out and that this is just a phase.  It's a hard phase to face and face alone... but I'm here, doing it and I will make it through.

3 comments:

J o s e y said...

Ugh, I'm so sorry that this is where your particular breastfeeding path has led you. I think I was lucky that my husband and I have a core group of friends who were always willing to come to our house to hang out and drink, so I didn't necessarily have to miss out on the social aspect of Friday nights, just because I was breastfeeding. Honestly, having drinks with my friends was important enough to me that I pumped on Sat/Sun mornings (as well as my normal weekday work pumping) just to make sure I always had extra milk available if I did want to have more than a couple of beers. That's not the right choice for everyone, but it was definitely the right one for me, because your'e right, it's really easy to get isolated otherwise, and that feeling of loneliness can pervade everything - even your marriage, especially if your husband is still going out while you stay home.

As for the physical side of things, I like the foreplay stuff too -- but like you, the breasts are off limits while breastfeeding. It forced us to adjust our style, and I def didn't enjoy it as much as normal, but I think it was still impt for us to do it anyway to reconnect through that physical touch. Sometimes (often) it felt like I was going through the motions in the beginning... but by the end I was almost always glad I did it. :)

Good luck reconnecting with both your husband and your friends. It really is so important to not lose your sense of self forever! I think it's inevitable when they're newborns, but at some point you really need to focus on you, because that will make you a better, more present Mom if you know who YOU are as a person still too!

Oh - and as far as nursing goes, I think that's one thing your husband does NOT get a vote on (and my DH was like yours by the end - always making comments about it being "time" to be done, etc). It's up to you and your child when it's time to be done, but that's my opinion! 17 months was when we stopped (b/c I was so sick the 1st tri of this pregnancy), and honestly, the build up to it being over was much worse for me than the actuality of it being done. Good luck deciding what's best for you!

Danielle said...

I was unsuccessful in nursing my son, but still could have practically written this post myself! Motherhood has hurt my marriage and is something I struggle with daily. I've also lost my sense of self and sometimes wonder what the heck happened.
I am thankful to have a husband who isn't afraid to tell it like it is. If nothing else, we have excellent communication so we always know where the other person stands and what we need to be working on. For me, the sexual side of marriage has become my focus - I have even set a weekly goal to initiate sex. My hope is that it will eventually all become 'normal' again and not feel so much like work. These hard years will pass, the kids will grow up and stop needing us so much and then it will be just us and our husbands again - we have to remember that and focus on that and work to cultivate a relationship to last.
As for friendships and finding yourself again... share some advice as you come along with that because it's one I'm struggling with even more.

Julia Goolia said...

Date nights----BIG help. Even if you don't drink or stay out late, the forced adult conversation is so so so helpful. Your sex drive will come back when you are done nursing, so no worries there. I guess I never thought about how nursing kids affects a marriage but you are right in that it changes things. Keep communicating, keep carving out marriage time, and hang in there!