There is only one person on this Earth that would pull me away from my kid for a night. Her name is Taylor. Freaking. Swift.
I had fought with myself for weeks, having a mental tennis match with my conscience. As badly as I wanted to go to this concert, did I really want to leave Winnie for a night? Was she ready? Was I ready?? What would people say about me leaving her to go to a concert? How would pumping work? Could I time out my sessions so I wouldn’t miss any fun? Would my boobs explode? What will I wear that would even look good on my new body? Would I always regret missing this once in a lifetime concert? Would I regret losing 30 hours with my baby who will never be this little again? I was honestly overwhelmed with “what ifs” and the lack of answers to my unending questions.
Ultimately, I decided that this concert would be the perfect first outing away from Winnie. It was only one night, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and Winnie would be just fine with William. The Reputation Tour was supposed to be incredible, and my best friend worked her butt off to get us tickets. I had been spending gobs of time with my baby, getting to know her. I was not abandoning my child, I was taking care of myself for a little while.
I only cried for the first 2 hours of the drive to Arlington. All I could do was picture Winifred’s face and wonder what she and Will were doing. I soaked in the sadness for a moment and let myself feel all my feelings, took a deep breath, and rolled the windows down. Letting the strong winds of the road dry my tears, I began to enjoy my “freedom”.
Our AirB&B was adorable! To be honest, the thought of sleeping in a king sized bed without waking up to every baby noise was a tad bit more exciting than seeing Taylor Swift. After a quick pumping session, we met up with our friends at a local Arlington brewery for a couple drinks before we got ready for the concert. It was surreal for me to be able to order a drink for myself! It was something I hadn’t done in so long. I almost felt like I was using a fake ID or doing something I wasn’t supposed to, but I moved past that feeling pretty quickly after my first sip of beer. I remember having the best time drinking and laughing with my friends — for a second I forgot I had a baby back home. The mom guilt hit me like a truck. Wow, why was it so easy for me to “forget” my baby? Was that normal? Was I an awful person?? I had to excuse myself to collect myself. In the bathroom I took deep breaths and convinced myself that I was not an awful person. Moms are allowed to still be people. I was allowed to have a few drinks with my friends without my baby being my every thought. I was just being Shannon!! After a nice relaxing afternoon, the girls of the group left to take the first “getting ready” shift at the house.
This was the part I’d been dreading because I’d been living in comfy sweats for the past 6 weeks. My body was in the weird in between stage. I’d managed to lose all the baby weight but no part of my body was the same. Everything was loose, squishy, and not in the same place it was before. I brought clothes I thought I could fit into and would make me feel at least a little bit human. I felt BOMB about my makeup and my spirits were on their way up when it was time to put the clothes to the test. Welp. I’d brought a pair of jean shorts I’d worn pre-pregnancy to about 4 months pregnant. Couldn’t button them. I’d bought a large T-Swift t-shirt that I thought would be super cute. It was too tight and see-through. Sweeeeeeeeeet. I walked into the other room and my friend said “you look miserable.” She was right, I felt awful about the way I looked. After consulting with the other girls we got me set up with a baggy t-shirt one of them was wearing earlier that day. In the moment I felt better but, after we left, I just wanted to cry. I felt like the frumpy friend. I wanted to just melt into the floor. I had to internalize those insecurities because I knew I would hate myself even more if I let this ruin the most amazing concert ever. I had to be grateful for this body. This body worked its ass off for 9 months to create the most beautiful gift. This body was strong and capable of sustaining life right now! That’s a big deal!! I decided I would be proud of this new body.
Once we got there, my insecurities kind of settled. There were a billion people at Cowboy Stadium and zero of them were worried about what I was wearing or how I looked. We grabbed a beer, found our seats, and the mental math began. “Ok, it’s 7:00 and I pumped at 5:00. Taylor goes on at 8:45 and it will take me about 40 minutes to pump and dump it somewhere. That means I have 1 hour and 45 minutes. Set a timer. I’ll have to pump again right when we get home.” I came up with this genius plan to try to use a hand pump at my seat and dump the milk into our empty beer bottles to ensure I didn’t miss a minute of music. Definitely my classiest moment. I made an Instagram story about my “pump and dump” concert that I thought was hilarious. However, 10 minutes later my inbox had about 5 messages from other moms telling me how ridiculous that was. They told me it was unnecessary for me to dump it, it’s liquid gold so I should keep it, one beer won’t mess it up so I should save it, and so on. This actually made me feel mad and a little shamed. Yes, I’m well aware that it’s unnecessary to dump your milk after just one beer, , and I know how valuable it is. I know these messages came from a good place and none of them truly meant to shame me. But people, WHERE WAS I SUPPOSED TO STORE THE MILK AT THE CONCERT???? Me dumping one time was not a big deal and frankly, it was no one’s business what I did with my milk. If only they new my freezer was bursting at the seams with saved milk. My funny story was not an invitation for input. Let mom’s live. Let’s give advice when it’s asked for. Geeeeeeeeze. Ugh, but I digress.
It came time for me to pump and it was just plain comical. A sight to behold. My sweet friend holding my jacket over my chest so I could lift up my shirt to situate the pump, me casually looking down my shirt and laughing as I attempted to latch the pump. I tried my best to be discreet but the pump would NOT work. It was too dark for me to see and I didn’t want to flash the little girls in front of us. My window of time was closing, so I grabbed my stuff and bolted to the bathroom during the last song of Camilla Cabello’s set. I managed to snag a stall and set my pump up. A hand pump is no joke, y’all. Ouch.
As I pumped as fast and carefully as I could, a wave of loneliness came over me. This sucked. I’d paid so much to see this concert and all I could think about was my exploding boobs. I was missing out on conversations and experiences in order to pump. I was sad. Tears rolled down my face as I sat there, alone, in a stadium bathroom stall. My friends had no idea what this felt like. I wallowed for a second as the bottle filled with milk. As I sat there with my feelings, the loneliness turned to pride. I was being a mother. I was doing what I had to do to keep my supply up, so I could continue to provide for my baby when I got back. I was proud of myself for that. Of course, I was heartbroken to see the milk literally go down the toilet, but I could let it go. I finished just in time and exited the stall to a completely packed stadium bathroom. I was a little embarrassed to be carrying out my milky pump to rinse, that was until a sweet older lady saw my pump and said “You go girl! Take care of that babe!”. We exchanged a laugh and smile as my embarrassment turned back to pride.
I got to my seat just as Taylor entered the stage and my whole body went numb. I was in the same stadium as Taylor. Freaking. Swift. And I just couldn’t handle it. She was insanely incredible. She put on the most amazing concert experience I’d ever seen. We sang every word, danced to every song, and hung on everything she said. We were #blessed to be on the third row of our section with two rows of tiny humans in front of us, giving us the best view. On the walk back to the house, all we could do was relive each song over and over while talking about our favorite sparkle Taylor outfits. I felt like I was a 6 year old giddy girl after my first N*sync concert! Best.Night.Ever.
I’m so thankful that I went. There were big bumps and I had a LOT of feelings, but I did it. William had a sweet night with Winnie and she was well taken care of. I got some mental and physical rest, while challenging myself. I regret nothing. I managed to be a mom but not ONLY a mom. I was Shannon for a little while and THAT WAS OK!
Morals of the story: Mom guilt is real and you can overcome it. Don’t tell moms what to do with their breastmilk. Motherhood can be lonely but you got this. Taylor puts on the best concerts.