Sunday, August 22, 2010

End of an Era

I lay awake that night, the whir of the video monitor beside me, a shedding cat tucked in the crook of my arm and a snoring husband near my side. I admired him for being able to slumber, a peaceful look around his half-open mouth, making it appear as if he was at ease as the world continued to whiz by him.

Meanwhile, thoughts tumbled recklessly through my mind as I stared into the dark, the only light belonging to the TV that still needed a stand in the corner of our room. All was silent, except the nagging voice in my head that screamed:

It’s an end of an era. It’s all happening to soon. Those moments – you’ll never get them back.

To which my heart tried aimlessly to reply:

But I promise – I swear – I enjoyed every minute! The really tough ones, the exhausting ones, the ridiculous ones, the calming ones, the magical ones, and the ones you don’t talk about – I cherished them all!

I thought about what it would be like the next morning – to walk into his room with a bottle in hand versus offering myself as an entrance to his day. I wondered if he would feel rejected, or perhaps if he just wouldn’t notice the transition, but instead be focused on “just get me the milk whatever way you need to – I’m hungry!” After all, we’d been down to one feeding a day for nearly two weeks, my heart and soul holding on to those magical moments each morning where nothing came between the two of us, cuddling, staring, sharing in only a way mother and child can.

When it came down to it, the time felt right for both Mother and Son – in an unspoken language that seemed to offer peace mixed with fright with a side of “holy cow yet another step of letting go.” Saturday marked the day that, for the first time, he would no longer need me for his milk supply. An idea that seems so insignificant to many, yet one that might as well be historical for some. This was me – hell, I might as well have gone out and had the date tattooed on my ankle or something for the angst it was causing…

So yes, there are things I won’t miss such as lugging my pump to work, managing the stares when nursing somewhere mostly obscure but still public, the late night calls to girlfriends and lactation consultants, the shower sprays, the ugly nursing bras, feeding in the car or God knows what other places, spending hours away from events or tied to the home because of the logistics it takes, the soaking tees, trying to hover under a “hooter hider,” the storing, the rinsing, the tugging and pinching and on and on…

But I will tell you one thing I will miss and cherish at the same time: this era. This era that meant, for 15 to 30 minutes every few hours, that the world stood still while your hearts connected in ways indescribable. That “liquid gold” was this one-of-a-kind chemistry potion meant only for this little being you created, that nourished him with all the things he needed, without you having to lift a finger or know the periodic table. A time when, even at 2 a.m., you knew another Mom was out there gliding gently in her rocking chair, doing just the same and experiencing waves of emotions that cannot be put into words, but only felt with the heart. The gift I had been given of having any sort of supply at all. So many gifts…

So thank you, Mr. L, for riding this out with me. For obsessing day after day about ounces and freezing and transport and intake and so very much more. For having more conversations with the word “breast” and “milk” in it versus any other topic (yes, even handbags). For sticking by when the going got rough, from tube feeding to strikes to supplementation and more.

This is an era I will never forget…

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