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All Done

nursing

“Mama. Mama.” Tiny mewls.

“Shhhhh. Mama’s right here.”

Mike nudges me softly.  “She’s in the other room.”

“Huh? Oh.” I wrench myself from sleep. My body weighs a thousand pounds as I drag it from the bed, across the room. Her door so close to ours I’m opening it as I’m closing mine.

“Mama. Mama.”

“Scootch over.” She wiggles and I realize she’s halfway down the bed. I pull her up towards me and I can practically hear her smiling as she smacks her lips. Her feet are like ice.

“Let’s pull up the covers. Are you okay?”

“Yeah.”

I pull the covers over us as she presses her cold feet into the tops of my thighs, squirms into my arms and latches on. It hurts. She nurses like someone drinking who hasn’t tasted water in days. It’s a starving kind of pulling and tugging. Her strong-still-small hands knead at me the way a kitten kneads its mother-cat.

When she was newborn her little feet wriggled against my soft belly, toes digging into my new-mother body. Now her feet reach down to my knees. But here we are still, mother and child, nursing in the early morning hours.

She’ll be two in two weeks. And then we’re done. With this, this part of our relationship. We – I – have to be. She doesn’t understand yet. I’ve told her, again and again, but she has no frame of reference for this.

“Mama is taking her milk to New York City and leaving it there. In Central Park, at Bethesda Fountain. When Mama comes home, the milk will be all gone.” I show her the calendar. “See? This box is today. This one is tomorrow. Here is your birthday. And here is the weekend Mama takes the milk to New York City.”

She stares at me, enormous indigo eyes, her serious face framed by wild, golden hair. “Mama mee-oke? Eva need her mama-mee-oke,”

“I know baby. For a little while longer,”

“Mama take her meee-oke to New Yoke City. Put it da Def-da foun-ten.”

I have so many feelings about this. All the feelings. This has been her main source of comfort her entire life. It’s our go-to for security, safety, nourishment, love.

Think about that. Think about something you’ve known and loved and cherished your entire life being taken away from you. Permanently. Without your consent. You’d grieve, right? Feel angry and heart broken. I am steeling myself for this. For taking this from her. My first betrayal as a mother.

When we nurse, she is, again, a newborn in my arms. My tiny, perfect babe. But she’s not a newborn. She’ll be two in two weeks. I don’t want to breastfeed a preschooler. I just don’t. So I’m being selfish. Taking my body back. No more. All done.

She suckles and squirms. We’re curled on our sides, belly to belly. She pulls her feet from off my thighs and drapes her legs over my hips. Her long, strong legs. I wrap an arm around her waist, stroke her back, breathe deep the sweet smell of her head. The sun is making the night sky pink as we drift back to sleep.


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  • Jos

    This made me so, so nostalgic for my breastfeeding days. Harvey was NEVER a comfort nurser and absolutely did not care or notice when I quit offering at 14ish months, but Stella…. she loved to nurse and cuddle and nurse from day 1. I weaned her cold turkey at 17m because I was pregnant with Harvey and SO SO miserable and touched out, and I was really worried about her and the transition. Honestly though? It was fine. Harder on me than her. Her Nana took her for 3 days (b/c I was so sick!) and when she returned, I just told her the milk was gone. She cried and asked for it a few times over the next couple of days, but that was it, she was done, and I swear to you – a couple weeks later she had completely forgotten about it. I 100% cried more about it than she did. *sigh* I hope it’s an easy transition for you two as well.

    PS, wonderful to see your words in this space again. You are such a beautiful writer… <3

    • Thank you, Jos! You give me hope that this will be much easier on Eva than I think. I’ve already weaned her down to only a couple of feedings a day (except the nighttime feedings which go on and on…) You are probably right, it will probably be much harder for me than for her. Fingers crossed — I know I can take it!

      I feel such a kinship to you, you have no idea. It means so much to me that you still read my posts even though they are so few and far between. I really enjoy reading yours and watching your sweet children grow. Happy second birthday to Harvey! <3

      • Jos

        I really, truly believe it will be easier on her than you. Kids are adaptable. It’s amazing and frustrating & heartbreaking, depending on the situation. 🙂 I’ve barely been reading lately, but I always am excited and make a point of reading your posts! Off to find you on FB….

        • I just sent you a friend request! 🙂

  • Kim

    I can’t believe she’s already reaching two. This feels impossible to me. This was a really lovely post, and I, too, was so happy to see it pop up in my Feedly (which I rarely check anymore – I must’ve known you were back). Always glad to read your beautiful words. And I obviously don’t know firsthand, but I believe that she will adapt and you will adapt and you will both grieve a little bit and then your relationship will morph and you will find all sorts of new ways of giving and receiving comfort and love. I mean, you practically ooze comfort and love (and I’m not talking about milk). xo

    • Thank you, love. I appreciate your kind words! A little update: we have not nursed since the evening of her birthday, almost two years to the hour of the first time we nursed. She’s doing great. There were some tears the first day, but not nearly what I expected. And in the few days since, while she’s still asking for “mama-milk” she is taking it very well when I remind her that mama’s bosoms are all done making milk. So resilient, these little ones! xox

  • Brian Black

    Wonderful to see a woman breast feed her or any child for the record .Life giving nutrients designed to protect the child- in the future life towards warding of virus etc .Same DNA