Thursday, April 28, 2016

Separation Anxiety and ANR

S is leaving.

I knew this day was coming. I've known for quite some time now, and I've been able to put his departure out of my mind and focus on everything that is wonderful. But now that the time is drawing near, it is all that I can seem to think about.

We've been apart before in the past, often and for very long, difficult periods of time, under much worse circumstances. You would think I would be used to it by now, wouldn't you?

But I'm not.

I hate it when he goes away.

I know that it won't be forever. He'll be home again in a week. And what's a week, really, when you think about it?

Seven days. 168 hours. 10,080 minutes. 604,800 seconds. 1/4 of a month.

It will seem like an eternity to me.

When he is away from me, the house seems so empty and our bed feels so lonely. At night I sleep on his pillow, and it brings him closer to me, but it's never enough to really satisfy me, because I miss feeling his chest pressed warmly against my back and his arm curled protectively around my waist as we spoon through the night. Every night that we have been together, we have slept that way for almost 15 years (unless a little one has had a bad dream or was frightened awake by a thunderstorm, and feels comfortable enough to snuggle down between Dad and Mama in their big, warm, cozy bed with the piles of soft pillows and fluffy queen-sized blanket), and I've grown very accustomed to his night-time presence.

Perhaps even too accustomed to it.

When S leaves, it always feels that he takes half of me with him. And I never truly feel whole again until he walks back through the door, filling our home--and my world--with his strength and security.

I miss watching him shave in the morning and sharing coffee with him at the breakfast table. I miss listening to him read a bedtime story to our daughter and telling our sons good-night. I miss his voice, the way his laugh fills an entire room when he's really amused by something. I miss him.

I am already beginning to feel the on-set of separation anxiety--and it's horrible.

But I think it's one of the realities that you have to face when you are in a committed ANR. You invest so much of yourself in another person that it's difficult to let them go--even for a little while. And the challenge of separation doesn't just stem from the act of nursing, but from the emotional drawing and pulling that comes along with nursing. Even if it is temporary, that connection is hard to break.

And, now, even more so because I am lactating.

I have reached a level in my lactation journey that I am very comfortable with right now. Although I plan to continue on to full lactation in the future, a goal that S and I have been working together to accomplish, I am satisfied--and thrilled--with what my breasts have achieved in just one short month. My milk supply has come in beautifully, and continues to increase, replenishing itself quickly after each feeding, but I remain at the place where I need S to draw it from my breasts, as I haven't yet reached the point of being able to express through pumping. This is another concern: I don't want to suffer from engorgement, and I certainly don't want to drop to a lower level of lactation.
S and I have spent many hours discussing our situation, and he was open enough to tell me how difficult the separation is going to be for him, too, while also showing so much support and encouragement regarding my milk dilemma. (It's so wonderful to have a supportive partner who reminds me every day that he is not nursing from my breasts for the milk, but for the intimacy and deep connection we share; even though I understand completely that he will dry nurse just as contentedly as he is feeding now, I have grown very, very fond of my milk, and I know that he has, too, and I honestly do not want to see a decrease in supply.)

After weighing and considering our options, and deciding that, as the end of the school year grows closer, it just wouldn't be practical for me to join him out-of-state, I have chosen to pump in his absence, to provide as much breast stimulation as possible. By pumping during each regularly scheduled nursing time, and possibly a couple of times in between, if time permits, I hope to maintain my milk supply, which, of course, is why I have been on a proper breastpump search and find mission over the past two weeks. :) The Mister and I are going breastpump shopping on Friday evening, as a matter of fact, which he ought to find a lot more interesting than shoe shopping, which I have been known to do on the rare occasion.

Now that I've had time to truly think about our situation, I'm sure that everything will be okay. Things often have a way of turning out better than you think they will. I am confident in the abilities of my body--and my breasts--and secure in knowing that even if my milk supply is hindered by this impending week-long separation, I have a loving man who will be eager to return to the shelter of my arms and the comfort of my bosom.

But I'm still going to miss him...

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