Jitter and drip

Dot writes: outside, the trees are full of that mellow autumn sunshine that makes everything look so extremely three-dimensional, and there’s a restless wind. Term is about to start at TCD: I’ve met the new MPhil students (I am director of the Medieval MPhil this term), and people dressed as giant pelicans are roaming college trying to get the freshers to sign up for bank accounts. (I’m not making this up.) I usually feel nervous at this time of year, but also excited because of the work ahead. Last year I was sleepy and large and rather out of the hurrying departmental loop, waiting for Hugh to be born. This year there’s a big dose of sadness in the excitement. I’m looking forward to teaching and enjoying the fast stream of small tasks that get done – research is all about big tasks that never do quite get done – but there’s no longer time to spend two or three days a week at home. Moreover, the less time I spend with Hugh, the less confident I feel when I am with him. And my milk is drastically diminishing: it went down markedly when I stopped feeding him at night, and now when I pump at work during the day less and less comes out. I’ve had to face up to the fact that, on the days I look after Hugh, he wants bottles as well as breastfeeds, because pumping doesn’t stimulate me to produce enough milk for him. He is nearly one (!) so this is not a disaster. I’m hoping I can still spend a day a week with him, besides weekends, most weeks, and he is lucky to spend more time with his dad than most babies do; plus I think he is happy with Michelle. All in all, I don’t think Hugh is a neglected baby. But I am not able to be the kind of mother I always wanted to be, and that makes me sad.


2 thoughts on “Jitter and drip

  1. I really feel for you, Dot, but don’t beat yourself over the head about this. I challenge any mother or father to say that they are the parents they always wanted to be. I am sure I have said this before: you do what you have to do in any given circumstance. The main thing is that Hugh grows up knowing that you well and truly love him.

  2. Dot

    Thankyou, Sarah. I’m afraid I am coming to believe that it is genuinely better for a child, in the short term, to have a parent permanently at home. But in the long term it may be better to have the greater financial security of a two-income family. And I don’t think that there is much harm done by my working – I don’t expect Hugh to have behavioural problems as a result, for instance – I just think it must be quite unsettling for him never to be quite sure who he’s going to get each day. His world must be a bit uncertain and stressful.

    As for the breastfeeding, this is really more about my sense of myself. I felt good about being a champion breastfeeder, and am sad to be compromising; but Hugh had his six months without formula and still gets comfort feeds from me, so he has had many of the health benefits and continues to have some of the emotional benefits of breastfeeding.

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