I gave my husband very, very specific instructions—a perfect plan, and he didn’t follow it at all. I was so angry!
When my youngest son was nine months old, I had the opportunity for a girls’ getaway which I so desperately, desperately needed! Thankfully, at this point, nursing was still going strong, but that strong nursing bond that I didn’t get to experience with my first two kids, made it more difficult to get away. He would nurse faithfully every morning, before naptime, and before bedtime with a random nursing in the middle of the night–just to keep things interesting. He refused a bottle, which meant that I had to be there every morning, every naptime, and every bedtime as well as in the middle of the night. Up until this point, I was able to easily work my schedule around his feedings and was very proud of that.
But with the girls’ weekend getaway coming up, I didn’t want to say “no” like I usually did to things that conflicted with my breastfeeding schedule, so I had to figure something out. But how would I do this? How would I be able to be gone overnight? What the heck would my husband do if he woke up? He already felt powerless enough the way it was, but he wanted to support my decision to go and be helpful in any way he could. Mamas, you understand…I had to get the heck out of my house and connect with friends and feel “normal” and eat and drink and laugh and tell stories and not be sucked on or yanked on or tugged on or pulled on or pushed on. I needed a break.
I was determined to make it work so I came up with a fool-proof plan. My parents’ house was only fifteen minutes from our getaway, so my husband could take my nursing little one and the older two kids to their house. I could sneak away to nurse before bed and come back. Then, if he got up in the middle of the night, my husband could call or text me and I could sneak away again to nurse and come back. Then in the morning, I could, once again, sneak away, nurse him and come back. I know this sounds crazy, but I was a dedicated, desperate breastfeeding mama who just needed a little time away! It was a great plan.
I even left a bottle and breastmilk so that all the bases were covered. I nursed my son before bed and then off I went…to my getaway! I was giddy. I couldn’t wait. I knew that I was “on call”, but I didn’t care. It was totally worth it. The girls and I had a blast. It’s amazing how just a little time away can refresh your tired mama soul!
When I went to bed, I set my phone right next to me expecting the “honey, we need your boobs” call, but it never came. I fell into a sound sleep. In the morning, the sun began shining on my face and suddenly, I sat straight up in bed realizing that I had just slept through the entire night! I reached for my phone expecting to see text after angry text and missed call after frantic missed call, but there was nothing! I couldn’t believe it! Even if my son hadn’t woken up in the middle of the night (which would be shocking), surely he was ready for his morning milk and snuggle time?? And my boobs were bursting.
“Nothing. I just thought I’d let you sleep in.” he said proudly.
“Awesome. Did you give him a bottle?”
“No. I gave him graham crackers.”
Ok—here were the emotions going through my head…he knew the plan…we agreed to the plan…graham crackers weren’t even a part of the plan.
I was so confused and angry and in pain. And to make things worse, my son was so full of graham crackers that when I arrived to nurse him, he didn’t want to nurse to help relieve that pain. And I didn’t bring a breast pump because I didn’t think I would need it because I didn’t think my son would eat graham crackers and be too full to nurse because that WASN’T PART OF THE PLAN!!!
“Ok, someone is going to have to suck on these things right now!!!” I shouted.
“Sorry, honey. I’m really sorry. I thought I was helping you.” my husband said apologetically.
“Always stick to the plan, honey. Always stick to the plan!” I begged.
In an attempt to relieve some pressure, I took a hot shower and tried to express some milk. It was somewhat successful, but I was still angry at my husband. I was angry at having to miss some time with the girls because I had to wait around to try to nurse my son again a little later in the morning after the graham cracker high wore off.
Hours later, my son finally nursed. I was able to go back to enjoy the rest of the day with the girls. And I learned that if I ever needed to be gone for any reason, my husband wasn’t completely powerless. As weird and unconventional as it was, he could always give my son graham crackers. And you know what? From that point on, he did just that. Graham crackers became our new plan.
I know it’s crazy, but the Graham Cracker Incident of ’14, as we call it, taught me four important things…
1. that my husband is a very capable parent and will take care of our son the best he can when I’m not around. His plans can be just as good as my plans.
2. that missing one nursing isn’t the worst thing in the world.
3. that it’s ok for me to get away sometimes and I should do it more often.
4. that graham crackers must be just as tasty and as satisfying as breastmilk to a nine month old!
CHRISTINE LEEB is known as The Real Mom. She is a speaker, writer, Christian Life Coach, and the founder of 4Real Moms—providing moms with real solutions for real life to help them be the best moms God created them to be. She has 3 beautiful (and exhausting) children and has been married to her husband, Brad, for almost 16 wonderful (and challenging) years. She enjoys garage sale-ing, brownie eating, friendship keeping, book reading, family tickling, and husband dating.