Wednesday, October 3, 2012

End of a Journey

3 days old
3 years 4 months
I am your mother, you are my child. And I always knew that when my miracle came, I would feed her from my breast.
And so I led. I forged ahead through the hurdles in those earliest days and weeks, and you did your best to keep up. Through the nipple shield, the supplements, moving across the country at just 9 sweet days old, I led you, and you followed. And I dreamed of the journey ahead.
The journey, like any great adventure, had twists and turns. And out relationship, like any great relationship, had its own share of give and take.
We began with me leading you, putting my head down against what felt like barrier after barrier, but always moving forward, and we nursed.
I remember a change in our journey just after you turned one. You held my hands and you tugged me to start following you. You went forward with excitement and enthusiasm and I could barely keep up! You had so much joy. You ARE joy. You knew what you needed - for comfort and nutrition - and there was no stopping you. You never did care to eat much, you always loved to drink my milk.
I remember. You led and I followed, with my oatmeal and my fenugreek in hand.
At a later time, I had to defend our choice to a doctor. So I held my chest out and with a quivering lip, and once again I led you. I led you right out of that horrible place and to our car, and I felt safe there, and I fed you from my breast. And you felt safe there. I stroked your hair and I told you it was ok and some people didn't understand. You were so upset that someone didn't understand. You wanted comfort - you were sick! - you knew what you needed and I didn't mind giving it to you. I wanted to give it to you because I could help you feel better. I didn't feel strong, but I was strong for you and I led.
Do you remember telling me milk changed? You did. You said "it tastes different" and when I asked you why you said, "because of the baby in your tummy." I couldn't believe it. My body didn't make babies on its own. But I took a test and you were right. You're right a lot, my beautiful daughter.
I knew things would change and that was hard for me because our journey was so beautiful. You loved to nurse. It had been your whole wide world. But I grew weary and we slowed down. That's ok, relationships and journeys do that sometimes, you know. We went and saw Mickey Mouse at his house (but he wasn't in the castle ;)), and you didn't nurse ALL DAY. Life was too exciting, we were having the greatest time, and you didn't need my milk that day.
Some time after that, you led the way through my changing milk and moods, and you stopped feeding at my breast. You led us to a quiet cuddle instead of a sweet nursing. And that was ok.
But when you got sick, I offered my breast again, because I couldn't bare having this liquid gold that could heal you and not sharing it with you. So with shaking hands about what it might mean, I led you to nurse again. And you did. And just like nothing had ever happened, you resumed nursing regularly.
We moved a long way away again and that was hard for you. You kept asking when we could go back to our real home. I cried with you. You led. You took my breast and I told you that family was our home. As you nursed, I saw that, at least in that moment, I was your home. 
Your meme came, but she got sick and had to leave unexpectedly. Your papa had to go away on the ship for a long time. Your brother was coming soon. I was tired. Nursing was hard. It wasn't the right time to stop, too much was changing. You were so sweet and so gentle. It was hard for me to see you cry when I said no. 
And just like that, your brother was born! Such a sweet, screaming miracle. You say "this is my brother. He cries a lot. He poops and pees a lot too." 
It was so hard for me to go from one baby to two. And it was even harder for me to balance nursing two. We definitely had our ups and downs! And for almost three months, we tandem nursed. My heart absolutely brimming with pride in you, my sweet girl, for being so patient and so brave all those times you had to wait or be cut short so I could tend to your brother! You led me. You showed me courage!
And now here we are. I am weary once more. And you pat my hand and you say it's ok, we can stop now, mama.
There's all this language: mother-led, child-led. Weaning. And it hurt me to think I was stopping you short. But that language is what's wrong, not us, baby girl. Nursing is a journey and ours is ending. It was a beautiful walk. Sometimes I led, sometimes you led, and here we end it together. Does it really matter who took the first or the last step?
We had a big girl party for breakfast. Papa got you a cupcake that he left out for you. You asked where your candle was, so I pulled down the big jar candle and I sang "shes a big girl, my boo, she's a big girl, my boo, she's a big girl, doesn't drink milk anymore, she's a big girl, my boo." It wasn't lost on me that the flame didn't go out when we each tried blowing it out alone. Instead, we had to bow our heads and blow together to blow out that candle.


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