I've mentioned many a time on this blog that it might be time to wean, or start weaning. It's never happened. In the end, we just always kept nursing. I like nursing. For me, it's pretty much been the best thing ever, in spite of the hilarious and mortifying side effects of productive nursing. I won't burden you with too many intimate details. I will say I find it fascinating the way the body changes, and changes, and continues to change. It's been over two years since Jane was born, and I'm still surprised to see changes in myself stemming directly from the the advent of Jane.
Since I went back to work, it's been a lot easier not to nurse as much, since, obviously, I spend less time with her. I've continued to look forward to it as a time of calm togetherness, bringing the evening to a joyful close, or as an extension of my early morning sleep by twenty whole minutes! But the other morning I was taken aback by how awkward it was to nurse reclined. And then the other evening I was nursing Jane before bed, and I HATED it. I couldn't wait to be done. I skipped right to the part of Wheels On the Bus where everyone gets off. And I knew it was time to stop completely. I haven't nursed Jane in almost 48 hours, and let me tell you they have been damned challenging hours. Last night, I could barely get her into bed. We could hear her from downstairs crying, "I don't like this bed! I don't like this bed!" She's never said that before. This morning at 4:30 she woke up and I brought her to sleep in our bed, hoping I could get her down by rubbing her tummy and shhhhhhhhhhing, the way I sometimes can after even the shortest nursing. No go. She sat up and began to cry, and said--this really killed me--"Want to go home. I want to go home." And she cried and cried, and said it over and over. Pretty much the same thing tonight, this time with an endless stream of tearful "no"s, pacing around her room in the dark. I was looking desperately around her room for a distraction and found the pink backup version of the singing seahorse, Myron, that sleeps with her every night. That snapped her right out of it. Another change in our lives is Pink. (Note that just like my mother says, it doesn't matter if you haven't watched princesses and Barbies and all the rest--some things are just built in, and Jane is over the moon for anything pink.) As she clung to the slurring Mommy Myron (batteries almost dead) I managed to get her into the crib. After some negotiation among her bedfellows about who would sleep where, Jane brusquely demanded her pink cup. Awesome, I thought, end of negotiations. Usually if she sends me on an errand for E-wore (as she calls him) or Piggy or Mommy Baby or Baby Baby, just having the item fetched for her seems to make her feel satisfied and secure. I ran downstairs for the cup. I found blue cup. I found yellow cup. No pink cup. I started to cry.
I couldn't bring myself to go back upstairs without pink cup. I changed into my pajamas and cleaned up her toys, still crying. I looked for pink cup again, still crying. It's not really a big deal. She went to sleep instantly. But I just couldn't get over not finding the pink cup. Maybe it's just that I've been up since 4:30, that my wonderful inlaws left yesterday morning and that was so hard--I always feel loss when they leave; maybe it's that I worked all day in a job I like that happens to be very intense without taking a break, just like I do almost every day (shame on me). It's all these things, but the greatest of these is that my relationship with Jane is changing irrevocably. It's always changing, but I've done my best to delay some of the biggest changes. Going back to work, for instance. Weaning. I'm so glad I held on to our time together and to this special bond as long as I could, and I recognize that these seasons of motherhood and childhood have formed the foundation of our lifetime relationship. But I'm grieving for their loss, and it really hurts. You can tell your child how things are; you can tell your child how much you love her. You can tell her your boobies are out of milk and offer to sing her special songs. You can hold her when she'll let you, and be present. But you can't take away her sense of loss anymore than you can take away your own. You have to wait for time to do that, and we all know how great waiting is.
I'll wait, because I have to. I'll stick to it because I know the time is right. Soon it will hurt a little less, and she will become more independent. Soon we'll find a new way to come together that doesn't involve breasts. I'm hoping tomorrow morning at 4:30 we'll both be a little more sanguine, and that it will get a little better every day (not to mention a little later). I'm calming my fears, knowing I will have to quell them over and over--more than I childishly hope she still loves me, I pray with all my heart that she still understands the completeness and the depth of my love for her.