This Will Be the Last Time I Nurse You

One day, and I won't know it then, you'll crawl down from my lap and never come back again. I remind myself of this often when I feel touched out and overstimulated. So much of my motherhood up to this point has been physical, I find myself fearing I won't have enough to offer you when my arms around your sobbing body no longer soften any and every feeling of pain or overwhelm in your heart. I already carry you much less than I used to, and every day both your body and your questions feel so much heavier to me. But I have seen the evolution of your need for my breasts as comfort to just my arms, so I trust you will continue figuring it out. You already are. You find comfort in your father and in your sister and lately even within yourself, and it breaks my heart in the most beautiful, proud way. I still smell your head when you sleep and close my eyes to stop time when you calm yourself against my collarbone. And I promise I will keep repositioning your sleeping sister so I can offer you my arm to squeeze, like most children do with a favorite stuffed animal or blanket, as you drift off into your dreams. But baby, this will be the last time I nurse you.

And it's because of me. It's because I need to know, after all we did to make the transfer of milk from my body to yours work, that I am reading the last page of this chapter as I am reading it. It's because the beginning was such a Hell of uncertainties, I need the ending to redeem us. I need it to be special, for you and for me and for every second we've paused to connect in this way, for both the moments filled with screaming and the ones filled with surrender as your dark brown eyes rolled back behind your fluttering lashes. I need it to end on a high note and not allow myself to get to a place where I am just grossed out by how big you are. I am so proud of the brave little woman you have become, and as you no longer even nurse every night, I trust that you are ready. And so I am, too. My first baby, this will be the last time I nurse you.

And I know you may still ask when you are struggling and you see your sister falling asleep where you once rested alone, but please trust I am telling you no because I believe you are on to bigger things. And I know it may be confusing that I am crying as I explain to you that tonight is it, but please know it's because I have loved giving myself to you in this way for almost four years and I am just so proud of you, and also proud of me. Please don't mistake my tears for second thoughts, because I am sure we have a new sweet season waiting for us after this one. I am sure we will be okay. Because I am still your mama, with or without my milk, and you are still my Edie. I am doing this because I love you and want to have us, right now, as my last memory of feeding my first. So baby, this will be the last time I nurse you.

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The Secret to Motherhood

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It is hot out, and you are so thirsty.  Or maybe it is freezing and the heater is on full force in your house, so the air is super dry. You haven't had anything to drink in the last hour, and you have been hard at work on a new skill and it's wearing you out. You can see your glass of water on the other side of the room. It's up on a shelf too high for you to reach, but luckily your most trusted partner is here and he is much taller. You ask him to please get it for you, but he acts annoyed and leaves the room. Maybe he did not hear you, so you ask louder. He does not return--where did he go? You ask louder, and he comes back and talks to you in a language you do not understand. "It's only been an hour; you can't possibly need a drink yet." What did he say? You become frantic and he gets more frustrated. You truly don't think you are asking for too much--you just need a drink and the person you love the most could give it to you. Why won't he?

In the last month I have had a handful of new mamas reach out to me with questions about how often their babies need to breastfeed. "She would nurse every hour if I let her, but my doctor told me to make her wait two to three hours between sessions." "My baby is six weeks old--shouldn't he be sleeping through the night and not waking to eat by now?" "My aunt told me I am going to spoil my baby by picking her up and feeding her every time she cries, so I have been making her wait until I think she is actually hungry. But then she just screams and takes forever to calm down to nurse and ends up falling asleep instead of eating."

I have a secret I would love to share with you: the baby in your arms or across the room in the swing or upstairs in her crib, that baby is a whole person. I would actually argue that she is more whole than you or I am because she has not yet been broken by the world. The concepts of evil and ill will are completely foreign to her--she has never once tried to manipulate you. Her intentions are pure, no matter how long she has been crying. She is communicating with you in the only way she can right now. You are not spoiling her by responding; you are meeting her needs in the same way you would want someone to meet yours if you were asking for something out of your reach.

I know, Mama, that it feels so heavy to be solely responsible for this little life and even heavier when you are getting conflicting advice from people you feel like you should trust. And sometimes there are nursing issues that are more confusing and complicated and take research and trial and error. But this does not have to be one of them. Feed your baby. Answer her cries. They are cries today, but tomorrow they will be words. And the next day she will climb down from your lap and never return. And the next, she will not ask for anything; she will be out on her own and you will ache to be needed again. She will still have needs, greater and more confusing, but they probably won't include you.

But today you get to be the one to hear and meet all of them, to teach her what fulfillment tastes like so she hopefully grows up and does not settle for anything less. 

Feed your baby. Hold your baby. Wear your baby. As often as she asks you to. That's all she's asking of you today, and compared to your complicated list of things you think you need, she's really not asking for that much. She's not being selfish or spoiled--she's being a human with basic human needs.  

The secret to a fulfilled baby? Fulfill the baby. That's it. 

Playspace Inspiration

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We are moving in just under a month, and the playroom is the first space I plan on tackling in our new home. I have been in love with Waldorf education and parenting philosophies since Edie was a baby, and I am so excited to create a beautiful space for the girls to play and learn. We already implement Waldorf ideas when it comes to choosing toys to bring home, so our little collection will be making the move with us. But I never really focused any energy on decorating the room that currently houses Edie's toys because we have been looking to move for a couple of years now. We won't have much of a budget to change things in the rest of the house right away, but the play room is pretty little and I think we can swing it.

Do you have a process you stick to when it comes to choosing and displaying your child's toys? I plan on discussing ours more as we thoughtfully piece the girls' space together. I'm so excited!


(All images via Pinterest)