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Friday, September 6, 2013

On Feeling "Touched-Out"

When I was a new mom to my new son, breastfeeding was, well, new, as were all the warm, fuzzy, sky-high feelings that come along with the whole she-bang. I would see comments in my online communities about mothers feeling 'touched-out' and think, 'Well, that's just silly. That'll never happen to me. I LOVE breastfeeding and my son, so the combination of the two will never grow old for me.' And then karma pinched me in the nipple (or maybe that was my son).

Now that I'm the breastfeeding mom of a nearly three year old toddler, I get touched-out. And then I get pissy. And then I want to rip my hair out. And then I need a break. And then my husband thinks I'm nuts. And then I get pissier. And then my son needs more breastfeeding. And then I'm more touched-out. And then I'm even pissier. And then I need a break. And then I want to push my husband's face through the back of his head to get his attention when I'm telling him 'I NEED A BREAK!' And then I get a break. Finally.

This usually comes in one of four forms and it typically depends on my son's comfort level. I either:
a) head out on some errand,
b) stay home while they head out on some errand,
c) take a bubble bath, or
d) go back to the bedroom to read.

Any of the four will do, but the longer the uninterrupted time, the better. Of course, 'uninterrupted' is less likely if I choose options c or d, but sometimes the goddesses shine on me. Whatever, man, I just need some time!

Breastfeeding a toddler is vastly different than breastfeeding a newborn. It's wonderful, don't misunderstand, but it's different. And the newness has worn off. Again, I absolutely love it, wouldn't stop it for anything, and will wait until my son is ready to stop before we do, but it has its moments when it can wear on a mama. This doesn't make me a bad mama. This makes me an individual. As much as I am enamored with the whole process of breastfeeding my son, I am still an autonomous person with my own needs. Sometimes, those needs include a little personal space. The sooner I recognize those needs bubbling up and attend to them, the sooner I can return to my son refreshed and anew, making me an even better mama who can better meet his needs.

We cannot completely forgo our needs in this whole mothering process. It's a balancing act. Sometimes, things get a little off-kilter. So we stop, assess, act, return, and repeat as needed, all the while knowing that it's OK to feel what we feel when we feel it and to attend to ourselves from time to time.

When you are feeling touched-out, what do you do to care for yourself?


  1. You are seriously my new mom crush. This is me. All of it. I do the same things when I'm touched out. I enjoy the weekends when my girl spends some quality time with her father and I get some alone time.

    1. I hope single parents have support systems in place to get their much needed breaks, too.

  2. hahaha. i never got a break. not a shower, a bath, a moment. my baby's father was absolutely unhelpful. he didn't hold her, he didn't help around the house, nothing. i bathed, shopped, cleaned, cooked, went to the bathroom, etc with her on me. she would cry & vomit if i set her down, so i didn't. that was my life, and mostly, i managed ok. i used a variety of baby carriers, sort of got to enjoy sharing my bath/shower with her, and found the toddler nursing to be a valuable tool in the parenting toolbox. she weaned herself around 4 and a half, although for the last year she only nursed a couple of times per day; and the last 6 months probably only a brief sip at bedtime. worse for me than the constant contact was the longterm sleep deprivation (she didn't nap unless i was walking, and didn't sleep more than a few hours at night, moving and kicking me often), and the complete lack of helpfulness from other people. but i survived, and she thrived, and we are very close now, even though she is a teen. it's kind of like my long, painful labor---i look back on it and see that i was strong and able to handle things. would i rather have had a break from time to time? yes, doubtless, but for me that would have come at the cost of my baby wailing herself sick, or worse, in the hands of an unloving, unwilling caretaker. that was never an option for me. i do always look at couples in which the father is clearly bonded with his child rather wistfully, though. seeing a man handling a baby with tenderness and competency chokes me up, even now. i think all mothers should have that support, whether it comes from the father or from family or friends.

  3. I'm a single Mama breastfeeding my almost 19month old,sometimes I feel so touched out I wanna scream but I left my babe finish then I say"Mama needs a minute",hand him a toy/book/cup then go get myself a glass of water. I recently realized I need more than that&signed up for one yoga class a week,w/a family member watching him for that hour. I. Am. So. EXCITED!