100 days later, a trip to the cinema and the battle for the breast

Anais Gschwind
5 min readJan 8, 2024

I drove past the festival grounds where Foals were playing on the way to the cinema. Car speakers blaring. Windows down. I love this album I thought. Who needs to be there?

I watched Saltburn at the cinema. I drank the glass of Riesling I had stored from the flask because the stemmed glassware I brought in my bag was crushed before I could take it out. It was wrapped in a baby swaddle that I threw out with the glass inside.

I always loved the movies. Everyone kept saying you should go heaps before the baby comes but I never did get around to it.

I love the movie previews but they make me anxious because I don’t want to forget all the films I want to watch by the time the actual movie starts. When I really like the look of a preview I want to get up immediately and find a cinema where it’s showing. I can’t bear the thought of waiting to see. Of forgetting I wanted to see it.

I had no idea what Saltburn would be about — just that there were some provocative scenes and it was funny. A few people said that I would probably like it. And of course I did. It’s a millennial’s wet dream — a deliciously likeable filthy but flirty romp. A generous serving of death on the side to compliment the sex. Just enough vicious sting in its narrowed side-eye.

It was the kind of mood I just wanted to crawl right into and hang around for a while. The songs were fun and frivolous, there were loud dresses and outrageous characters. The whole scene designed to thrill.

The protagonists are coming of age in 2006. It was oddly rude that I should be now coming of age again in an entirely different fashion. There is certainly much less dancing and dance music involved at this juncture. I couldn’t figure out if I felt seen or attacked.

That said, afternoons in 2006 wagging a poli sci lecture in the UQ bar at St Lucia were barely as titillating. You were more likely to end up in a maxi taxi with some verbose third years en route to someone’s patio rather than an extravagant Shakespearean themed garden party. A few Smirnoff double blacks, a packet of Marlboros carefully distributed and Death Cab for Cutie blaring from the iPod speaker under the washing line.

Luca arrived 100 days ago. People with newborn babies are always banging on about how much the baby has changed but can I just say that the baby has changed so much. I take less photos but I still want to post every single one. He is surely the cutest baby I have ever seen and everything he does, no baby ever before did.

The urge to celebrate each and every milestone is real. One week, two weeks, growing out of a tiny outfit, lifting his head, making a new cry.

Then again the urge to leave the house and not come back for a while is also real, so you get the idea.

Instead of pregnant woman or newborn mum or woman with baby, I am currently “pumping mum” which wasn’t an archetype on the vision board. I didn’t even know women were doing this before I became one.

The breastfeeding thing doesn’t work for me and I’ll spare you the details but instead of direct feeding, my pumped milk is fed to Luca via bottle. This ultimately triples workload because boob owner must pump milk at the same rate as feeds, wash and sterilise equipment and then also feed baby.

I was lamenting the workload and someone accidentally asked, “why don’t you just breastfeed the baby it would be quicker?!” Why indeed.

Pumping must happen about 15–20 minutes every 3–4 hours to maintain supply and Luca’s needs. It overlays life with a certain mortal panic about timing that sits very uncomfortably with me and anyone around me who may not realise I can only quantify time in terms of hours between feeds and minutes with my tits plugged into a pump staring at the wall.

Gone are the days of no worries, whenever, I’m easy. I still use the words but I no longer mean them.

Yesterday evening I spilt an entire 80 ml into my lap after a pump session. Evening sessions are already the saddest ones because bodies produce the least milk then. The hour was ripe for disaster.

The milk hung in the crevice of my thighs for perhaps 10 seconds as I wondered if I could manage to somehow scoop up the milky lake that had suddenly appeared between my legs. Gravity prevailed. Milk seeped into my shorts and then my underwear and then into the cover of the new chair I bought to milk myself in.

My eyes leaked then and I let out a cry that came from somewhere deep inside. I sobbed about the milk that was spilt but also everything else. About how tired I was. About how it’s not Luca’s fault that it takes a lot of energy to feed him. About how I could just feed formula. About how I didn’t know how hard this would all be.

Mainly I cried about the invisible effort that is required to feed a baby, whether by the breast or formula or the pump. Each version contains its own assortment of suffering but I’m sure pumping is reserved for the true martyrs.

I used to wonder why mothers can’t just relax. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the baby. I don’t really wonder about that anymore.

I love the baby but I wonder about the mums. I wonder how they all did it, quietly getting on with it day after day. Loving the baby is easy but I wonder about all the rest.

--

--