My Wife Is Breast-feeding Both of Our Babies

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Welcome to “It’s Complicated,” a week of stories on the sometimes frustrating, sometimes confusing, always engrossing subject of modern relationships.

Wives Emily Kehe and Kate Elazegui both gave birth in December, four days apart. In the interview and video below, they talk about what has changed since New York featured their story in January, including their ongoing challenges with breast-feeding. 

Emily
Especially since we went back to work, we haven’t had very much time to ourselves. Once they go to bed, we make dinner (it’s been important to me to try to cook as much as possible so we stay healthy), wash bottles, straighten up the house; I pump, take a shower; we do some work, pay bills, etc., and then collapse into bed exhausted. To me, that’s the hardest part, and I do miss being able to focus our attention on each other.

Kate
I was not able to breast-feed, and it ended very tortuously. Amazingly, Emily is pumping milk for Eddie and breast-feeding Reid. She’s gone back to work and she’s still able to provide for both of the boys. She pumps at night to get enough milk for both of them. That’s where I think we have had a very different experience: She’s providing for them in a very maternal way. She’s a provider with a capital P. She needs to keep up her supply for both our babies. If she misses a few sessions it really impacts Eddie.

To make up for that I am super on top of organizing everything else. I dress them in the morning and get them ready while she’s pumping. Feed them and then make their bottles. I try to do the things to take care of our babies the way Emily is. I don’t want to feel like I can’t do anything because I can’t breast-feed. We have a wonderful nanny who’s Filipino, like me, and she’s going to teach both the boys Tagalog. I want both my children to know the culture I grew up with. Especially Reid. I don’t know what he’s going to say or feel when he gets older. What if he worries that he doesn’t feel or look Filipino? But he is, because he’s my son. When I hear the nanny talk to them in Tagalog I feel so warm. It connects the boys to each other, too.

Emily
Kate manages the infrastructure; I wouldn’t put that much time into it. She lays out the bottles. She lays out the swaddle blankets. I would be a mess without that. As a parent you see a whole new side of your spouse; it’s cool and unexpected. Tonight I walked in and Kate was singing to them at the top of her lungs, and she was dancing and performing Broadway songs. I wasn’t expecting that from her, and I love it. I really love it. She’s still type A, but this is a new, lovely side to her. I think she’s in a much happier place. Not being in the middle of that nursing struggle every day is very freeing for her. I am sure there’s a sadness that she can’t do it, but look: Everyone is healthy. The babies are happy. Nobody is suffering. Everything’s fine as far as the feeding is going.

Kate
I think when we were both breast-feeding there was a little bit of paranoia that we weren’t spending enough time with the other baby. I think now we are aware of it all the time. When the baby you gave birth to cries, I do think something happens that’s instinctual. So I make sure to spend time with Reid. We both do this. Emily talks to Eddie, I talk to Reid. We want them to grow up knowing that we are both their mothers, and that has to start now. It has to be equal, especially because of work. We have two hours a day with them. We pass them back and forth. I’ll do 15 minutes reading to Reid while she’s playing with Eddie, and then it’s like switch! We never argue about it, I never say, “No, I want to keep Eddie.” We switch. We have to do that. We still have that fear in our minds, I think. We don’t want them to ever, ever have a feeling like one is preferred or loved more by one of us.