It feels a little jinxy to write about this (when will writing about this pregnancy like it is real not feel jinxy?), but it’s the sort of thing we actually need to make a decision about in the not too distant future (end of first trimester or so), and was a major topic of conversation at our house the last few days, so I’m throwing caution to the wind.
Nursing is such a huge subject, perhaps even more so in a two-mom family. It is certainly a major topic in two-mom-blog-land and came up as a sore spot in tons of the essays in the Aizley other mother anthology (not least in the essay by Aizley’s then-partner Faith Solloway). With Leigh, we had all of the requisite conversations, angst, work and satisfaction associated with nursing, and all in all, it went well. Leigh was a champion nurser. Gail had pretty good supply. Leigh nursed until about 14 months when it was clear both she and Gail were ready to be done. I didn’t struggle too much with those third wheel feelings that not nursing can inspire in mom #2 (I think largely because I spent so much time caring for Leigh).
I remember in our conversations before Leigh’s birth, discussing the possibility of having me induce lactation, and ultimately deciding that no, it wouldn’t be worth the effort. Back then I was still taking some medication that I was weaning off of, and I would have had to push the timeline for weaning faster than would have been prudent. We also felt like there would be enough work to go around and it might not be the best use of parental energy. In retrospect, those were perfectly good reasons not to induce, but there was also something deeper holding me back. In our own relationship parlance we refer to it as “you know, that thing about stealing the baby,” which for us, conjures up a whole slew of heavily discussed and interesting issues, and somehow feels difficult to sum up in a little–or not so little–blog post, but I’ll try.
During the pregnancy, I often felt like I was clinging to Gail, trying to get in on her spotlight and glow, to get a teeny bit of that pregnancy aura and attention by proximity. I worried (as if you guys can’t tell by now I’m a worrywart) that people would think I was too enthusiastic, that I was getting too possessive of her baby, trying too hard to claim a child that wasn’t really mine…and actually…there are signs I wasn’t completely making that up. There was that friend who thought I shouldn’t take leave, the midwife with whom I literally “got in trouble” for getting over-zealous about birth preparations (ask Gail, it’s true). There were the frequent subtle and not-so-subtle references in queer parenting books that I’ve mentioned before. But that worry about other people were thinking actually exposed the worry I had in my own heart, that I was stealing Gail’s baby, that I had no business claiming this child as my own.
Mostly, we worked through this stuff, and once we had the kid and figured out how our family does things, that worry faded fast. Now we are just Leigh’s moms. It isn’t complicated. But that decision not to induce was made before we knew how our family would work, and was in part influenced by that nagging worry that I was stealing Leigh. If I had prepared to nurse her, that just seemed to cross a line. It seemed like I would be too obviously honing in on Gail’s turf.
But now we know that isn’t a good reason. We know what it is like to be two moms, and we know what it is like to nurse. In fact, having two nursing moms in the house could be a total bonus (easier to trade off night feeding, it would relieve the pumping pressure, faster bonding for Gail, fewer bottles to wash). Back when I was deciding not to induce, I had very territorial feelings about what was then only a very hypothetical second pregancy (by me). When I thought about whether or not I would want Gail to nurse a child that I birthed, I had a visceral reaction of “HELL NO.” It wasn’t pretty. It was something like, “Well, if I can’t nurse this one there is no way you are going to nurse the second one” and it came from that same ugly place of worry about stealing Leigh. I find now that we’re here, barely into this next pregnancy, that instead I really want Gail to induce. I want to share both that work and that satisfaction with her, and I don’t want her to feel like I did, that somehow she shouldn’t.
All of that said, when all is said and done, she gets to choose. She has some pretty valid reasons not to want to. She had a horrible breast abscess that would encompass several posts in and of itself. She is rightfully scared of a repeat (so am I for that matter. It was really really bad). It is a lot of work when we already have a toddler to care for. And in some sense, she’s already done her time. She enjoyed nursing Leigh, and did a bang up job, but she wasn’t one of those for whom nursing is the be all and end all, so she may not be itching for a repeat.
I’ll let Gail walk you through her end of the thinking about this, and she’s been the one doing the legwork on figuring out what it would actually entail, but for my part, I just want to make it extra super clear, that if you decide not to induce Gail, don’t let it be because you think you shouldn’t. For my part, I would love it if you did.