Milk and water

April 17, 2010

I’m a bubble bath girl at heart, but finding time for bubble baths has never been all that easy.  When I was living here and N was still in Chicago, I’d take weekend afternoons, especially in the colder months, and soak for hours.  With a book in one hand and a gin and tonic in the other and I’d lose myself in hydrotherapy and fiction, periodically draining cooled water out and running more hot water in until I’d exhausted the supply of the poor water heater and realized it was time to leave the warm, steamy bathroom and re-enter reality.

It may be a long time before I have a bubble bath again, and that’s okay.  I enjoy showers, too.  I appreciate them even more now that they are hard to come by, between work and Dot and housework and the serious business that is pumping.  I breathe in steam and the white noise of the water and relish these moments that are all mine, all for me.

Every time I stand in the shower now, though, and I mean every. single. time., I remember standing in the shower in the weeks after Teddy’s death when I’d weigh the doctor’s advice about not getting too much warm water on my breasts with my strange but strong reluctance to let my milk dry up completely and the fact that warm water was comforting even if it was only a small, physical comfort.  I stood under hot water more often than I should have, but my milk dried up anyway.

“Dried up” is such a sad phrase, too.  It makes me think of drought, dust bowls, and death.

It occurs to me that too much of my knowledge about breastfeeding and milk supply comes from those days of learning how to stop my milk from coming in. I took a real and vicious pleasure in throwing away my sports bras in our last move.

These days, when I step into the shower, I let hot water pour over the front of me and it feels sweet and triumphant and somehow rebellious.  At the same time, I cannot make those past showers, that loss of motherhood and milk, go away.

Sometimes when I’m nursing Dot, I find myself wishing I had even one memory of nursing Teddy, of that closeness and connection.  Because figuring out breastfeeding was difficult and sometimes maddening, but being able to do it is sweet, sweet.

He would have been 20 months old on Thursday.  I suspect I’ll be missing him every time I shower for the rest of my life.



  1. I can relate to this post so much. Although my milk never fully came in after Hope, as here in Australia we are given a pill to stop it. And that was hard enough in itself, as I’d been leaking colostrum the last half of the pregnancy and I’d been so keen to feed my girl my own milk. The tablet also made me sick as a dog.
    I take so much joy in nursing Angus. I feel deeply proud he’s a fully breastfed child, considering the very rocky start we had to it all.
    Just on milk and water and your love of bubble baths, here is what we do: Angus has ALL his baths with me. And I mean all of them. And we have bubbles. This way I get to wash, he gets to wash, we get wonderful bonding time, I feel safer having him in the water with me rather than leaning over the bath AND I feed him in the bath. It is his two favourite things at the same time and at this stage of my life, mine too. Milk and water.

  2. Henry never really got breast fed. It was too much work for him when he was expending so much energy just to breathe, and I’ve never really produced enough milk, not nearly enough. But the first night we had to change the tape on his oxygen canula, which nobody warned us about, we traumatized all of us when we pulled the first piece off. Henry wailed, Brian fumbled around for a pacifier, which we didn’t have handy, and I popped my breast in his mouth, and he latched on like he never latched before or after. There were so many times I couldn’t do what felt natural to soothe him, but that night we got it right.

  3. This is such a bittersweet post… it makes me ache for you, for your memories of Teddy. ((hugs))

  4. ‘ . . .wishing I had even one memory of nursing Teddy, of that closeness and connection.’ It’s so heartbreaking. I wish you did too.

    I yearn for one memory of breastfeeding my daughter. I could feel my milk coming in as I held her for the first time. As they were getting ready to remove her life support I still had this overwhelming urge to feed her. I wish I could have. I pumped for three months and when I breastfed her sister at last, yes, sweet, sweet. I agree.

    I’m with Sally. I still get in the bath with J even now, although I’ve never managed to read a book at the same time yet!

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