Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mourning Temporarily

Last night after I changed Spencer, I left the room to throw the diaper away and wash my hands. When I came back he was still laying right where I'd changed him, half asleep. It was an hour earlier than he normally goes to bed but I decided to put him down anyway, he was so sleepy.

He and I both have colds so we stayed home while Greg took everyone else to church. In the quiet house this morning I realized something. Before I put Spencer down last night I didn't nurse him. I've been doing only the one feeding right before bed for the last two months or so. In recent weeks it is more and more symbolic and less and less to provide any sort of nourishment. I have been planning to quit completely for the last week or so. This morning I realized that, just like that: it's all over.

And I sob.

I have spent four and a half years of my life nursing my babies. There have been times when I almost would rather have died and times when I was sure it was not worth it. I have often been forced to sit down and cuddle my baby to me when I did not have time or to retrain a newborn who seemed to suddenly forget how he had been getting his sustenance for days or weeks before.

I have spent countless hours pondering the wonder of being able to feed my babies any time I need to, to provide everything their little bodies require. I think about my body and the miracle it is and all that it has done for the people I love most in all the world. I think about how much that love has grown in the days and weeks and months of cumulative hours I have spent gazing down at a sweetly nursing baby. How grateful I am for that. For all of it. The good and the difficult.

And suddenly I have come to the end of it all. And I can't bear it. How do people bear these things, "The Lasts"?

My life is so full. I love my children dearly and find it hard to contain the excitement and happiness I experience watching them learn new things every day. A toy drops and Spencer says, "Uhhh-oooooooh" for the first time, his lips forming the cutest little "O" as he says it. Aaron comes up with the idea to bring a stool to the stove where I'm making "crunchy cheese" for him. Climbing on it he says, "Oh! Now I can see betterly!" David gets his first retainer and is so excited to feel that the protruding tooth he's been hating for years is starting to move backward and I know he will be way too handsome. Evie pulls me into another room, excited to tell me about the "Między nami Kobietami" ("Between us Women") maturation class she had at school.

So many firsts, all the time.

Right now I mourn this last.The grief is real and the sobs are deep. Does it go away, this ache in your heart when one of the most important, challenging and fulfilling things of the last 12 years of your life has ended? Forever?

I will keep a more vigilant eye open for "firsts" and rejoice in all the good things my babies bring into my life today. And tomorrow. And I will content myself with the feeling that somehow I will have all the yesterdays back. I don't know how it works but I know that one day I will have a fullness of joy, and that can only mean that these experiences will be part of me, as they are now, but without the tragedy of their being only a memory.

18 comments:

Barbaloot said...

Hooray for blogs and pictures and journals and videos that can preserve the cute kids before they grow up. But nothing can replace those feelings---and I definitely mourn how some things have changed!

Kopie said...

I love you, Lisa! This post helped me realize how precious these moments are. We better cherish them. Thank you.

Kopie said...

By the way, that was, me _ Ola. Writing from a different account.

Melissa Bastow said...

You can just do what I'm doing - it's called COMPLETE DENIAL. Sure we probably will never have any more babies, but I'm not even going to believe that for one second and you cannot make me!! (So there.)

Also it helps not feeling so sad when I take my bra off and my boobs hit the floor. Then I'm so busy cursing the nursing gods that I don't have room to feel mournful.

Moody said...

The lasts are hard. It seems the firsts for my firstborn (kindergarten, going off to high school, etc)were extra hard, then not so much with the 2 in between (not that the 11yo is leaving home yet, mind you)and then the last FIRSTS with my lastborn are very hard. To know that it's the LAST first day of kindergarten for me was really hard.

Annette Lyon said...

I distinctly remember one of the very last times I nursed--and being SO aware those days were ending, for good. I remember gazing at my little girl and stroking her face, trying to memorize every bit of it.

Now she's in second grade. (sniff)

But there definitely are new first (and lasts), some worth celebrating (I don't miss diapers AT ALL), some that are painful (in 2 1/2 years, my son will be in college--WAAAAH!).

Cycles of mourning and celebration are a huge part of this whole mommy gig.

Erin said...

Aw, that was beautiful. It is certainly a time of mourning, and I will be going through it soon myself. Hugs!

Heidi said...

I adore nursing. It makes me so happy. It is sad when it is all over. I think, with each of my babies, I always hoped there would be another one so it was never quite that bad for me. In my mind I'm still not done. I think I'm in denial (and 46)

Kimberly said...

Oh Lisa, this is so eloquent...so heart touching. I just want to read it over and over. And then I want to hug my kids, pretty much forever if I can somehow manage it.

L.T. Elliot said...

How well you said this, Lis. I wasn't able to nurse because my dudes were so tiny they couldn't live outside of the isolette and when they were able, they were so used to bottles that they never took to nursing. I always thought I'd have another chance, another first, but it seems our dudes might possibly (okay, most likely) are our only children and so I read your words of mourning and find that they've become my own. I'm so sorry for the hurt and I wait with you for those days of joy unending. *hug*

Melanie Jacobson said...

Just tonight, Eden woke up from sleep and I tried to nurse her and she tried for a minute or two and then she wanted a bottle. I knew it was coming but like you, I feel sad and not relieved. I'm at a point where I don't know if she'll be our last or not and so I treasure everything like that's the case. Which is really just kind of a good way to do things.

Alison Wonderland said...

I hadn't ever thought that we'll get it all back, do you really think so? I think I'll think that too, it does make the loss a lot easier.

Kazzy said...

Firsts, lasts. The different levels are all hard. We would have it a lot easier if our hearts were a bit smaller.

Lindsay said...

Beautiful post- you got me teary! I sobbed when it was Reine's last nursing session- and I even hope to have more children! I hate lasts- they are just so miserable. Hugs to you- enjoy having your body back!

Lara said...

Lisa, you have me crying and I totally get it. I wrote a post on this a while back, called "Lasts." It's not something we often think about, but when I do, I just cry. I don't know if I'll have another baby...so far it seems like it's not going to happen. And I feel like screaming at Sophia to stop growing! I am not ready to give up these things, just yet!

Susan said...

I love this post. I think that I tried to just enjoy the things a little more, knowing they were probably the lasts, but the only real sobbing came when we finally had the guts to pray and fast about our decision to be done. That truly was mourning, as you say. But I sort of like celebrating the lasts (Beth makes it easy, since she's a snuggly, happy momma's girl. It might be all a different story with a strongly independent last child...)

Jenn K said...

I still miss nursing, and it has been 5 1/2 years since I've nursed. It was such a simple way to comfort my children.

Heather of the EO said...

I remember this so clearly with each of my boys. It really is a sad goodbye. And this is a beautiful post.