Sunday, August 9, 2009

Flying Solo

Lyn and I are both back at work part time this month and as a result I recently began spending significant amounts of daytime alone with Ira and a smaller amount of time alone with both kids. Even though I have been spending lots of time with Ira, the time alone still felt like a shift.

It's different to parent without a safety net. I realized how much I rely on Lyn to have the backup baby cure-all: nursing breasts that are always full. If I'm trying to nurse him but he's fussy, or I give him a bottle and he's fussy, or he's just fussy for an unknown reason, Lyn has previously always been there to take over and fix everything. But last week I had to do everything on my own with no "real mom" to take over if I stumbled. That was less challenging than I feared and more rewarding than I hoped.

For those of you who are curious, on a day alone with Ira I feed him about every two to three hours, usually right after he wakes up from a nap. I try to feed him with the supplemental nurser if we are at home. I can now put the supplementer on pretty fast and it keeps Ira from getting frustrated when I don't have enough milk to satisfy him. If we go out, I will usually give him a bottle or occasionally I will nurse him without using the supplementer. That usually doesn't work out as well as I might hope -- if I want to be able to feed him well without using the supplementer I generally need to have gone at least 4-6 hours without pumping or nursing and that's not usually possible on a day home alone.

Last Friday I went out with Ira to finally pick up his birth certificate from city hall and to run a few other errands. It was interesting to be out alone with him -- I found myself frustrated that I didn't look radical at all. I realized that being out with him alone I looked like any other mother, but I wanted to stand out. I really wanted people to be able to see that I was doing something outside of the norm, parenting with another woman, parenting a baby I had not given birth to. I didn't want everyone to assume that my experience as a mother was ordinary. But I guess, when I think about it, no one has an ordinary experience of motherhood (or fatherhood) -- it feels extraordinary to all of us.


Lex said...

I find it very rewarding to be "solo" with our new babe as well. I especially love being out and about with all four of our children by myself, which sounds crazy, I know! I think having the public at large see me as "just another regular mother" actually helps me feel like I AM just another regular mother, and that is nice. Also, our older kids are super well-behaved when I bring the baby along, so that's really nice too :).

We've had a few times lately where I've been nursing the baby in public and then I hand him off to my wife for her to nurse him (or vice versa), and it's fun to see the looks we get. I do like feeling like we're stretching people's minds in a way.

I hope the transition back to working part-time continues to go smoothly! We're just a few weeks out from that point ourselves. I can't really imagine what life will be like once this lovely double-maternity leave is over.

Cindy said...

You could always get some random rainbow pin or gay pride fashion item. That will totally perplex people, which might serve your purpose. :-)

And, while it is certainly true that every parent's experience is unique, don't underestimate how truly radical it is for two parents of the same sex to raise a child. Other people have other challenges and rewards, but you have this one and it's pretty big as "radical" stuff goes. So no need to minimize it just because other people have their own interesting experiences!