Well, it's done. My body is finally all mine again - the 15 month marker for Emet is here and he nursed for the last time on Tuesday night. One might think that is something to celebrate, and it is! Yet, part of me feels so sad. The author Karen Kingsbury commented once that in life, we commonly celebrate firsts (first birthday, first tooth, first ride on a tricycle / bike....etc.), but we don't often celebrate lasts because we don't know when they are occuring. The last time your child colors you a picture, the last time they sit on your lap and want to cuddle. Hence, I wanted to somehow commemorate this little last, as sad as it makes me to celebrate Emet's "right of passage" into true toddlerdom and to give voice to my grieving Mama's heart.
With Caleb, I can remember his last day nursing like it was yesterday. His last nursing time was in the morning when he first woke up. A friend had shared that with her daughter, she simply kept the routine of cuddling in bed, she just turned her the other way. So, I, in all of my wisdom, decided to do the same thing. I snuck out of bed before waking up Caleb, got a bottle full of milk, and brought it into my room. Then, I went to his room and brought him in my bed as usual. I sat him up with his little bottle and gave it to him, thinking this would be an easy solution. He drank a sip or two, then sadly put the bottle down, looking at me with big, woeful blue eyes, and signed the "more" sign - pointing at my chest. I felt as if a knife had stabbed me right in the heart. Tears instantly welled up and I grabbed Caleb and flew out of bed to the rocking chair before I lost my resolve, where he and I both clung to each other and cried - bottle of milk forgotten. Knowing that I still could nurse him was almost more than I could bear. But, I did it - and a few weeks later, I was happy to experience a bit of freedom and to see him continue to develop more and more into a toddler from his baby stage.
Well, as Emet's time has been drawing near, his faithful Papa claims for both boys that he separated them from their Mama at birth by cutting the cord, and he will separate them from their Mama at the end of nursing time by gently but persistently reminding me that the time is here. Earlier this month, I woke one day with the resolve to drop his morning feeding and just did it. I got dressed and ready, then woke the boys and took them downstairs for breakfast. I sat with Emet and a sippy cup of milk in the big leather chair, and this seemed to do the trick. Now, a couple of weeks later, I don't even need to do this anymore.
Wednesday night of this past week was my Quicken night - the night Jason watches the boys, while I pile up my laptop and planner and head off to Starbucks for an evening of "Mama time", which typically includes updating our budget and maybe a few small things of my own such as writing notes, updating the blog, and mercifully - just being alone! (or at least not surrounded by little ones). Jason puts the boys to bed these nights and I wake Emet to nurse when I get home. This particular night, however - I thought that perhaps it would be a good night just to end it and let him sleep. That way, I wouldn't have had to "gear up" for what I knew would be the last nursing session. Tuesday night, as we nursed in the leather chair - Papa shushing Caleb so as to not distract his brother, Emet happily nursing between turning his head from me back to see Papa and Caleb over on the new couch - He or I never would have known it was my last time. Perhaps that is better.
Thursday was hard, however, for little Emet got a flu bug and threw up for the first time. The poor little guy was so sick and lethargic, and when I didn't nurse him as usual on Thursday, it sent him into a bit of a panic. Jason tried to take over the holding and care of Emet as he screamed and screamed, so that it wouldn't weigh too heavily on Emet or I. Finally, we were able to coax him to sleep by Papa rocking him in the blue chair upstairs as I sang to him from the bed. Upon hearing my singing, he instantly seemed to go into a relaxed trance and soon fell asleep against his Papa's chest. This, in its own way, helped to assuage my soul.
Today is Saturday, and I'm doing alright - though each night when I go to bed, I am reminded of what still could be, what I could still turn back, only if for a few more days. Knowing that I am telling my body "no more", when it still wants to and is ready to feed my baby makes me a little sad, a little guilty. But as Jason says, it's time for him to grow up and be a big boy like Caleb. It's a right of passage. Perhaps it is a right of passage for me too - getting to grow and learn from all of these little goodbyes and farewells while simultaneously experiencing new joys and growths from my boys: Emet now waving with his little hand versus his whole arm; Emet clapping his hands, wagging his head, and bouncing from his knees when Caleb turns on the Veggie Tale music on his stereo upstairs; Emet babbling up a storm and beginning to "say things" (most of which we still cannot understand - outside of "doon"[down], which he uses for both up and down); Emet collecting various books and objects, bringing them to Mama and Papa with purpose; Emet handing us his shoe and holding up his little foot to help us put it on; Caleb feeling so grown up and independent with his new battery operated stereo from Grandma and Grandpa B (3rd birthday), which he now operates by himself, knowing even how to turn it on and off to save the batteries. He is so cute as he turns it on, then goes to sit in his puffy blue Thomas the Train chair, which sits right next to Emet's in their room. Most precious of all, is both my boys - sitting side by side in their chairs, listening to Veggie Tales (Caleb quietly and pensively, perhaps singing; Emet rocking side to side, or front to back).
Yes - there is joy in goodbyes - but definitely lessons to be learned as well. Lord, may I always seek them.