I've never liked looking back. I've always preferred to focus on the future. The possibilities of what lies ahead make me happy, so putting the past behind me is usually easy. But I'm a mom now, and sometimes I feel like I live in the past, present, and future all at once. Sometimes it's impossible not to look back.
At 13 months old, I'm finally weaning Michael. I had planned to stop nursing him by the time he was a year old. But when he was 11 months old we moved. When he was 11 1/2 months old we changed locations again. And when he was 12 months old we moved again. So I kept putting it off to give him some consistency and to ease the transition for all of us. But it's finally time. And my heart is breaking.
I never expected to like breastfeeding. In fact, if it wasn't so highly recommended by physicians I probably wouldn't have done it, but I felt like I should at least give it a try. Then, he was born and from the very first time I nursed him he loved it. He was instantly peaceful and happy. It usually put him straight to sleep. I could calm him at any time. Sick, hurt, scared, tired, cold, hungry, day or night - I had the solution for all of it and it was fantastic. I wasn't born a nurturer, but in an instant I learned the joy of giving this helpless creature what he couldn't give himself. Nursing him was like giving the most fantastic mama-hug I could possibly give. And I got to look at him and feel him breathing and smell his sweet smell the whole time. I loved it.
I'm not trying to rewrite history here. There were plenty of struggles along the way. There were the usual discomforts for me. There were many nights spent mostly sitting up nursing, crying and praying that he would just sleep for a few hours without needing me. I had planned to do regular per diem work on weekends at the hospital where I had worked previously, but Michael wouldn't take a bottle and consequently I was only able to work for 3 or 4 hours at a time. I gave what seemed like every minute day and night, making myself available to nurse this baby, and now it was taking over the small scrap of what was left of my professional life. I felt tied down, and then I felt guilty when I needed to get away sometimes. The sheer pressure of someone needing me that much was overwhelming.
Sometimes I felt pushed to my limit. But all I had to do was think about weaning him, and I would find the strength to continue. I just couldn't imagine voluntarily cutting that bond with my baby. Not when it brought him so much comfort. Not when so many other mothers struggled to nurse. Not when it connected us. I was grateful and I didn't want to let it go.
Months passed, and we settled into a comfortable nursing and sleeping pattern. By the time he was 9 months old he even started sleeping through the night sometimes. And for the last several months that is where we've been - he would nurse four times during the day and sleep through the night. And I could do that forever.
Except he's not a baby anymore. So we're moving on.
Instead of nursing him to sleep I hold him and rock him and sing 'You are my Sunshine'. Instead of praying while I nurse my baby, I pray while I hug my little boy. He puts his sweet head on my shoulder and wraps his arms around me and sometimes he pats my back. A glimpse of all the hugs I will get from him in the future. That makes my heart happy. But a piece of me will always dwell in the past too. As I sing I feel the weight of his little toddler body in my arms and my voice breaks every time.