I sense that the end of our breastfeeding relationship is near, my sweet Elsa.
You wake up in the morning and nurse for maybe two minutes before you are off and attempting to climb up the couch, up the wall, and to your college dorm room. Often before bed, you’ll nurse just long enough to pass some gas. I am a means to a stinky end.
It’s not like I am that shocked. You are over a year old. We made it to the year I have committed to nursing each of my babies, so I’m not surprised. When Owen stopped breastfeeding, I was pregnant with you, and nursing hurt like hell. I don’t remember the last time, just those last few nights, in the rocking chair, when he would whip back and forth from left to right and back again, looking for milk that just wasn’t there any more.
I think it is because I can’t remember his last time that I am so in tune to this moment with you. Each time we sit down to nurse, I look you in the eye, your foot often resting on my chin, thinking, will this be it?
I blame Jillian Michaels, really. I am on week three of her six-week path to a six-pack, tired of looking five months pregnant at thirteen months postpartum. I’ve cut out refined sugar. It is the excercise, the decreased calories. I just don’t have that much more milk to give you, and you know it.
I think about the days when you will be completely done. It will make going out with your dad in the evening SO much easier. I can pack up that dreadful pump in its box until the next go-round. Perhaps you, like your brother before you, will stop getting up in the middle of the night when you know that the comfort of my milk isn’t there anymore. Perhaps you will no longer stretch out all of the collars of my shirts, pulling them down at your whimsy, or leave mouthed drool rings in only the most inappropriate places on my shirt while we’re out in public.
But I will miss your sweet, soft body curled around mine. I think back to just a year ago, you and your tininess keeping me warm on those January nights, sitting in the dark, as if it was only you and I in all the world awake to hear the scraping of the snow plows as they rushed by.
I will miss the way that you stop nursing to look up at me, shyly sticking your tongue out and then cracking up when I do the same. Or how you, like a baby velociraptor, turn back towards my chest and pounce, mouth first.
It is these moments that I grab onto, as you climb out of my lap and walk stiltingly towards the kitchen to throw all of my tupperware lids under the oven. Though they are fleeting, there are always new moments to try to keep from slipping through the cracks – like the first pony-tail I wrestled into your hair or the way you hold onto that stuffed dog your grandparents got you, hugging it and petting its head and saying “ug ug” over and over again, making us wonder if you’re saying dog or hug.
There’s no denying it. You’re growing, and I don’t really want to be weaning you when you are old enough to ask what’s weaning? So, this week, we cut out one feeding. And over the next few months, the others will go too, and soon you will be drinking only whole milk, and soon after that, you’ll be drinking a cup of coffee with me in the mornings on your weekends home from college. And those too will be moments to grab on to.