Thursday, December 12, 2013

Struggling with Separation

Making Christmas memories!  [Source]
It's been a while since I've laid it all on the table for you folks, and at the risk of criticism and judgment, it's time to be straight with you.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't second guess my decision to go to OTS.  

I'm not talking on a daily basis, but just every now and then during a weak moment or when I read about the affects of separation on children and their parents (particularly nursing mothers).  Kids change things, mark my words.  I think everyone knows that, but you really know that when you're in those shoes.  We sign up knowing that sacrifice and separation are inevitable, but that doesn't mean I/we have to embrace it, at least not all the time.

Originally, I thought I was going to have to leave on or before January, which seems unfathomable now.  I'm so thankful that it's not the case.  DD is 8 months old and I'm still nursing her - I'm determined to make it to a full year.  Ideally, my freezer stash will support her while I'm gone, and any other milks she gets at the time when I'm gone will be coconut or the like - no formula.  [Not trying to start a breastfeeding versus formula debate here, it's just my preference for my child.]  If I'm able to get my preferred school date, she'll be almost fourteen months when I leave.

It breaks my heart just thinking about having to ween her prior to when her and I are ready to stop nursing, so I can stop lactating before I leave for OTS.  I don't know how I'm going to deal, emotionally, with knowing she wants to nurse, I want to nurse her, but I can't.  Or holding her close and discouraging her efforts.  It's how she goes to sleep every night.  Will I have to start putting her in her crib before I leave, so she gets used to not being nursed to sleep?  Right at the time when I'm going to want to be as close to her as possible, to cherish every minute before I have to leave.  When I return, is there any hope of relactating?  Will she reject me because she doesn't understand why I've left her for so long?  Will she reject nursing or my attempts to start it back up?  I'm going to come home to a "new normal," even in the mere nine weeks that I'm gone.  I'm so, so thankful that this is OTS and not BMT; I'll have many more opportunities to call home and hopefully FaceTime.    

So, when I tell you I haven't heard about my package, it's true.  It hasn't been sent off for final submission yet, and I'm ok with that.  I don't even have a school date yet, and who knows what The Powers That Be will do with me.  I haven't tossed it by the wayside, I am still following through and doing everything on my part.  I'm just not stressing as much when I hit walls, like when I'm told to come back later to process paperwork.  What will be, will be.  Nothing is set in stone yet, and I need to live in the moment and take advantage of every second that I have with my daughter.  I am at peace knowing that I don't need this to happen (commissioning) for the sake of supporting my family or to achieve a sense of purpose.  I know that opportunities for leadership exist in both the enlisted side and on the officer side, and that I will make the most out of my career no matter where my path takes me.  

All I can do is live in the moment, and let tomorrow's worries not affect my todays.

[Side note: I'm definitely aware that nine weeks is nothing in comparison to a deployment, or even a tech school.  Preparing myself, emotionally, for that separation is easier said than done, especially as a nursing, first time mom.  Much respect to all of those who've had to do longer separations earlier in their children's lives.  It's hard, it sucks, all the way around, but that's the responsibility we've assumed.]

8 comments:

Kate Rowan said...

I chose to back out of joining the AF because of my son and nursing. He was 1 at the time. He is still nursing at age 2 1/2, and I still feel great about it. Good luck with your journey! It's hard to think about being away from your baby.

Carissa D said...

Awe! I just want to say thank you for serving and I can't imagine how hard it will be! You'll get through it though momma. When I sacrafice time with my LO for school or work I try to think about the example I'm setting for him and how I'm striving to give him the best for the futur. Good luck!

Erin said...

@Kate Rowan - I can definitely understand why you made that decisions - no judgment from me, whatsoever. I can only pray that we're able to relactate and that she wants to continue nursing. HUGE props to you for keeping it going at 2 1/2!

@Carissa D - I try to focus on that exactly - her pride in mama for pursuing and achieving her goals, although I know she'll love and be proud of me regardless. Thanks hon!

Sue // As It Seems said...

This was the reason I decided to put off pursuit of the military. I don't want to leave my baby. I could if I had to but right now I don't have to. You are so strong!

chambanachik said...

I know you will handle whatever comes your way. Big hugs. <3

Dina Farmer said...

I strongly feel that any separation is very hard! Doesn't matter how long! The first time I left my son was for my 3rd tech school. I had to attempt to wean him. It didn't work....lol but thankfully I did have a good idea of when my tech school was so that I was able to give it time. And at 18 months he told me he was done by going to sleep without a before bed nursing session.

I totally get what you are saying and it's very hard as a mother to leave your child. I know very much so! But you guys will figure it out if it comes to pass. I promise! And even if she refuses your milk when you come home, it's okay. :) She still loves you, it's just that phase is over and you can look forward to other things.

Lou said...

:( I'm so sad for you and amazed at how strong and courageous you are :) she has a strong woman to look up to she will respect that one day.:)

Lou said...

:( I'm so sad for you and amazed at how strong and courageous you are :) she has a strong woman to look up to she will respect that one day.:)