Let me take you back to Saturday, June 11, 2011 at about 4 in the morning. I was drowsy. As is my custom, I waited until the last minute to start packing for a trip. And by ‘waited until the last minute’ I mean ‘decided that I should probably pack at midnight, 6 hours before my flight takes off’. I was leaving to fly 1200 miles away from my husband and son for three days to photograph a wedding of a dear friend.
Solomon had only been nursing once or twice a day for a couple months, and so I knew that he might wean while I was away. So when he called for me at 4 AM I got out of bed with a bit of a heart full of reminiscing.
I picked him up and sat in our rocking chair. He said “Dee Dees!” which, just in case you don’t know toddlerspeak means “Yay for nursing!” I lifted my shirt and as he latched on I started remembering all of our nursing sessions.
The first time I nursed him… there in the candlelit room where I had labored for twenty-two hours, labored with purpose and patience and expectation. The way he had gone right to the breast… he had been born, placed right up onto my chest. He had cried one loud strong cry and then looked around intently for a minute, with eyes that just captured me from the start. And then he turned his head toward me and we started down this long road that is now coming to an end.
I remembered the middle of the night feedings where I would just sit there and marvel over him, keep track of how long since his last feeding, if his diaper was wet or not.
I remembered nursing in all sort of places I never thought I would feel comfortable nursing: the library, the park, restaurants, with company over. I remember just marveling at how beautiful the whole thing was and lamenting the lack of breastfeeding in my own extended family.
I think about how he used to lay there between me and his father and start sleeping nursing… smacking his little lips in his dreams. How I would wake up to that and barely even register offering my breast to him before I went back to snuggled up sleep.
I remembered the first time he signed ‘nurse’ to me and how my heart broke a little at his independence and dependence.
I went back to the nights in the hospital when he had to be hooked up to an IV for hydration. When he wouldn’t eat or drink or cry or do anything except be sick. How he would just latch on and lay there in my arms, not even suckling, just in contact. One hand on my breast caressing me even though he was so worn out his hand was hardly moving. How happy it made me that he could be comforted enough to sleep soundly for a bit.
I thought about him running to me and saying “Dee Dees!” and nursing standing up for 27 seconds and then running back to the slide laughing.
I thought about the first night that he slept through the night and how I woke up startled that the sun was shining.
And I come back to that moment, right before I take off for a weekend trip without him. I try to relish in the moment instead of thinking about schedules and apertures and flight times and whether I packed my toothbrush or not. I kiss his ears, and sing our song, and tell him I love him. And then he signs ‘I love you’ to me because he doesn’t want to unlatch long enough to say it. And my heart just swells up to four times its size and I start crying, only he doesn’t see the tears because he is drifting back to a sweet sleep.
It has been a month since then. A month since he last nursed. I think it is safe to say that he has weaned now. Twenty-two months of my life where I never went more than 24 hours without nursing Solomon. Now he runs up to me and asks for water and a kiss and then runs back to the slide laughing. Soon he’ll be asking me for the keys and then running off to a soccer game. Asking me for my blessing and then running off to get married.
This has been such a beautiful twenty-two months!
Do you have fond memories of nursing? I don’t know anyone else in person who has breastfed past a year or so. Am I crazy to be so emotional about this? Also, how did I live for so long without underwires?