Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Month Fifteen - It's been ONE WEEK

It's been one week since Carmen nursed for the last time...

I never thought I'd be one of "those moms" - I remember when I was pregnant that I was really looking forward to breastfeeding for the requisite 12 months and thinking that people that breastfed for longer than that were kinda weird. I remember watching moms whose babies would reach into their shirts, thinking that babies that could ask for it, or would go after it themselves, were too old to continue breastfeeding. Even as a nudie myself, I remember thinking that breastfeeding in public without a a blanket over your breast was a bit exhibitionist. I remember knowing everything and being the perfect mother - before I became one.

I remember thinking about my breasts as they grew during my pregnancy. I was shocked at the way my nipples became bullseyes on my chest! I worried about stretch marks. I freaked out when my nipples leaked colostrum. I wondered if my breasts would ever look the same again.

But then I had Carmen. The first thing she did was squirm and struggle towards my breast and she latched on so hungrily, I was amazed that something so small could suck so hard! At the same time, a delicious sensation washed over me - I never thought breastfeeding would be *delicious*. The first time I felt my milk let down, I grabbed my breasts in pain and hugged them to my chest. And then the milk flowed in generous streams and I was amazed that my body was capable of such a feat. When Carmen cried, my letdown occurred almost instantly - the physical connection that I thought ended with my pregnancy continued as Carmen flourished outside my womb. I never read about this in books.

I never thought the Mama Bear inside me would emerge with such a vengeance. While my husband said "Sure, you can hold her", I thought frantically "LET GO OF MY BABY!!!" I began having intrusive thoughts about practically everything - imagining how I could throw my body in front of hers or turn the car just so to avoid her being hit. I made everything that went into her mouth from scratch - organic, pure, healthy... she ate better than Jason and I. I would do anything in my power to make sure she had the best.

As she's gotten older, I have relaxed my stranglehold on motherhood. I am comfortable leaving her in the care of others. I don't fret if the dog french-kisses her or if the sippy cup is coated in dog hair. The five-second rule has become the five-minute rule.

BUT. But I continued to breastfeed her past that 12 month mark. I never worried if she didn't eat every piece of avocado or every chickpea because I knew I was helping to sustain her. I was giving her the calcium from my bones. I was jump-starting her immune system.

I healed her bonks on the head with a few sips from my breast. I comforted her with my milk as she drifted to sleep. I thought nothing of popping my boob out, wherever and whenever Carmen needed it. I revelled in the skin-on-skin contact we shared in the bathtub when she would see both nipples at once and have a hard time choosing between the two! I shared something with her that nobody else could. I was her number one.

And just like one of "those moms", I secretly relished the way she would reach down into my shirt, much like a greeting! I loved when she signed for milk in times of distress. I loved the way she nursed to sleep without a problem. I loved the way I could nurse her in the lineup at the Sun Run, or over coffee with a friend, without skipping a beat.

And now... now it's over. It was a choice we both made. Hers, because she is becoming so independant. Mine, so that I can get pregnant again. My only consolation is that pregnancy might allow me to do it all again. That, and her recent need for kisses and hugs - maybe she is missing and craving the same closeness that I am?

My breasts ache. Carmen accidentally kicks me while we play and I reel in pain. In the shower, I knead them to relieve the pressure and small jets of milk escape. Although painful, I want to feel my letdown so badly, but to no avail. Each day my milk becomes less and less. I never knew that the last time she nursed would be "THE LAST TIME SHE NURSED". Like, somehow I would have captured every nuance in my brain and recorded it for those times when she becomes a teenager and tells me she hates me, or that I embarrass her. Now she signs for milk, but it's for the sippy cup that she drinks from with reckless abandon!

I know this is a stepping stone that I have to go through. I just never thought it would be so hard.