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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.