Thursday, November 24, 2016
The holidays have always been a magical time for our family, and around our home, the festivities actually begin as soon as the calendar is turned to October, when the weather begins to grow cooler, and the time for bonfires and costumes and trips to the pumpkin patch, cider mill, and apple orchard arrive, bringing with it all of the pleasure of autumn with its gold and bronze colors, and the anticipated excitement of the upcoming festivities that will follow in November, December, and even January (when we host our annual New Year’s Eve part, join family and friends at my parents’ for a traditional New Year’s Day dinner, celebrate a very special little girl’s birthday, and head off to a warm climate for our annual extended family vacation). It’s a little stressful, a lot wonderful, and, now, with the addition of a nursing schedule and full lactation, a bit challenging.
This year, Thanksgiving was the very first holiday that I spent balancing life and lactation; Mr. S and I began the re-opening of our personal ANR journey the night before Easter, back in March, but there was very little to juggle at that moment (except perhaps the awe and beauty in the renewed emotional connection that we had been blessed with–and made it very difficult for us not to exchange little looks and touches throughout the day); Thanksgiving Day was a much different experience for me.
As a matter of fact, the days leading up to the big day were quite eventful.
It is tradition in our home to put up our Christmas tree the week before Thanksgiving so it will be the focal point in our living room when we have holiday company. Unfortunately, Mr. S and I had made arrangements to have new carpeting installed in the living room, hallway, and dining room, and this couldn’t be done until the 22nd.
The 22nd? Two days before Thanksgiving, when I was expecting 13 people for dinner? No problem! The tree would simply have to wait.
Over the two weeks prior, I was on the phone approximately 50 times with roughly a dozen people, asking what they could contribute to the meal, and finalizing menus and arrival times. Although I’d hoped to get together around 4:00, the time wasn’t convenient for some of our guests, so after a lot of deliberation and volleying back and forth, the time was set for 1:00.
One o’clock? One hour before I was scheduled to express? This was going to be a bit of a problem because it couldn’t really wait.
So, by the time the carpet installers arrived at 8:00 on the morning of the 22nd, the turkey and ham were thawing in the fridge, and because I was pretty much confined to the kitchen anyway, I decided I might as well take advantage of the situation by making pie crusts and baking cookies.
I found myself becoming a clock watcher for the first time in a very long time.
And I was beginning to become just slightly concerned when 1:00 arrived, and the two very nice gentlemen were still piecing and seaming in my dining room.
1:45 rolled around, and they began to pack up their equipment, vacuum my new rug, and move my furniture back into place, which took almost an hour.
By the time they said good-bye and headed out, I was about an hour behind pumping schedule and my cups were very close to running over, so I rushed off to the bedroom to take care of myself without further incident. 🙂
The tree went up that evening, and I spent Wednesday preparing for the following day’s get-together, knowing that the true test of my mettle would take place on Thursday afternoon.
I was up at 4:30 the following morning, joining Mr. S for our 6:00 a.m. nursing, and was back in the kitchen by 7. Our first guests began to arrive at 12:45, and we began to eat an hour later.
As it turned out, 1:00 had been a perfect time to have guests in! Our house was filled with loved ones, children were milling about in the rec room, adults were roaming here and there, and there was so much laughter, commotion, and general good-natured chaos, that no one noticed when I slipped off to express just after 2:00.
Only Mr. S knew my secret.
And when I returned to the kitchen to make another pot of coffee, I found him waiting for me. He leaned in close to whisper, “Everything go okay?”
“Fine,” I replied.
He stood quietly for a minute, watching me, and when I looked questioningly up at him, he said, “You know what? You’re one heck of a woman.”
“Awww,” I said. “Thank you.”
“Just think,” he said with a grin, “you don’t even have to worry about this again until Christmas.”
(It was a brave thing for a man to say to a non-maternally lactating woman hosting a dinner party for a total of 18 people, particularly when said woman had a row of open Cool Whip containers at her disposal…but, then again, I’ve always said that my love is nothing if not courageous.)
And it was funny. So I laughed.
I’ve learned so much over the past eight months of this beautiful, wild ride–and much more than simply balancing and juggling the ordinary with the extraordinary. I’ve learned that planning for an expected situation is much different from worrying about it. Anxiety takes so much happiness out of an otherwise joyful occasion; sometimes, it’s just a lot better to relax, make allowances (and remain flexible while doing so), and allow nature to take her sweet course.
Of course, I’ll plan for the upcoming Christmas celebrations (it’s actually necessary, and that’s just the sort of woman I am), but I won’t concern myself with the little what-ifs that may not happen anyway.
It’s wonderful to be able to breathe again, and to fully enjoy life and lactation at the same time!