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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