Can I tell you a secret baby girl?
I didn’t mind your night feedings. In fact, I loved them. They were my favorite time with you.
Every night, when the house was quiet and your brother and daddy were fast asleep, I would be working away at my computer downstairs when I would hear you stir. As you cried your urgent, frantic tears, I would call out, “Mommy’s coming,” and run up the stairs, two at a time, to get to you.
When I opened the door, I would see you sitting up, the back of your tiny hand rubbing your eyes. You looked so small and helpless, sitting there in the middle of the bed. I would scoop you up and you would instantly stop crying. “Mommy’s here. Mommy’s here.”
Then I would grab a diaper and head downstairs for our nursing ritual, cooing to you as we went. We would get cozy on the couch and I would nurse you. Mommy and baby together while the rest of the world slept. It was bliss for both of us.
But it is time to wean…
After seven bouts of mastitis, including recurrent mastitis that has ravaged my body for almost two months, I have pumped both you and me with endless rounds of antibiotics. Even now, I am on a double dose of extra strong antibiotics. When I try to decrease to a normal dose, the infection returns. It seems my body is screaming, “I am done!” even though I have tried for months to ignore it.
Two nights ago, as I nursed you, I knew it was probably the last time. I have been weaning you slowly, dropping one feed at a time. And it was time to say goodbye to our night feed as well.
As you nursed, I wished that someone were there to take some pictures for me – a picture of your feet crossed, a picture of your eyes closed as you drank, a picture of your fingers tangled in my hair. I don’t want to forget any of it. I can feel the memories slipping away already.
I hate to wean you so soon. You are not yet sixteen months old. I had planned to nurse until you were at least two. But I know it is time. I must let go.
Tonight as I rocked you to sleep, your arms wrapped around my neck, your body hugging me like a baby koala, I knew that as we end our mother-baby bond of nursing, we will replace it with other forms of bonding. There will be hugs and cuddles and kisses that magically heal. There will be snuggles at bedtime and long talks after lights out. There will be stories and secrets and giggles.
And one day, I pray, I will be there with you as you learn to nurse your baby. I will promise you the pain will end and the bliss will come – those early days aren’t easy. I will burp and diaper so you can rest.
And when it comes time for you to wean, I will take photographs so you can remember.