Victoria Jelinek

March 19, 2012 re nursing…
March 19, 2012, 3:06 pm
Filed under: Letters to Leo | Tags: , , , ,

When I started nursing, my goal was to make it to six months, and even as I was also anxious to get my body back after a long time pregnant. In retrospect, I’m surprised that I made it past the first three months. You were “game” from the get-go, though you always preferred one to the other, which meant that my breasts were lopsided.

The first few months I was so sore that I dreaded it every time you fed (which was frequently, my good little eater). Add this to the sense of disorientation and sleeplessness of those early months and with my family ten-thousand miles away, and I’m surprised not only that I continued to nurse you, but that I didn’t go crazy. A midwife was called in to help, to no avail. A lactose nurse was called in to help, to no avail. I used so many creams  – lanolin, wax based, bottom cream for babies, one even for cows – that I did, indeed, feel as though I had challenged “udders.”

But I persisted, and the pain went away almost as quickly as it had come. Six months of nursing you – which all of the doctors told me was the “least” that I could do to help you to get a good start and to fight allergies – seemed possible. We also fed you a bottle in the night because your father was generous and would give it to you, thereby allowing me to sleep through one feed. Once you were three months old and your father was away in the mountains working most of the time, you would have a bottle at your ‘nu nu’s’ once a day when you were there for three or four hours in the afternoon, too. At six months, and during a trip to Seattle to see my family, we integrated food – bananas and rice cereal – into your diet. In fact, it was your uncle Monnix who fed you for the first time. I then thought I’d make it to one year, my ‘secret’ goal, though one I never thought I’d make (hence its being secret), the date to finish nursing you, and even as at nine months, I only nursed you in the evening to help you to sleep, and in the morning, next to me in bed and in order to buy myself some time snoozing.

Now, we’re coming up on your first birthday, and my ‘outside’ goal is almost met, and then I’ll stop nursing you altogether. However, whereas I’d set out thinking that the whole nursing ‘thing’ was a huge responsibility and one that I’d welcome being over so that I could finally have my body back, I find myself feeling very sad. A monumental moment in time that will never be repeated for either one of us is reaching its conclusion. This tender sentiment tells me that it’s the right time to cease and desist. But even so, this tender sentiment is also because nursing you has helped to create an indelible bond between us (and was hugely convenient to do as it turned out!). One that I hope resonates forever, even when you’re too cool for your mother and don’t want to be a “big girl’s blouse” by hanging onto your mother’s protection and love. I worry, too, that because your father is eager and able to participate in your daily care, that I’ll no longer be ‘the apple of your eye.’ Certainly I have not been your primary ‘food source,’ your means to survival, for some time.

Even so, I also understand that this is a necessary milestone for both of us and I will embrace whatever comes to pass, and all of the stages of your life. I enjoy seeing the signs of your growing independence – communicating through your hands, facial expressions and sounds, observing and “commenting” on everything around you…crawling, wanting to explore every inch of any given floor or ground, and pulling yourself up to a standing position…and I look forward to knowing you as you grow and get older. So, I mentally begin to prepare myself for this separation from you next week. And I remind myself that in addition to looking forward to participating in the development of your growth and prosperity, I do look forward to getting my body back (and same-sized boobs) after two years of devoting my physical self, and even more of my emotional self (which will continue), to another creature’s life – you, my darling son.

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