If I have learned one thing about motherhood in eight years doing it, it is that nothing should surprise me.
But yet, I am so surprised at how emotional I am about one thing in particular. My sister says it’s the hormones.
For 13 months, I have personally nurtured my baby girl with a gift only her mother can give. And now, that door is about to close. We are both growing and moving on.
When the boys were infants, I worked hard and did what I was supposed to do and went through the motions of nursing them because I had to and at six months, they each were done. They were too busy to sit still and just nurse. They had other things to do and couldn’t be bothered. And truthfully, it felt to me more bothersome than anything else. Finding the time and place to get it done seemed so much more impossible then. It was a chore and I pushed on as far as I could and when that chapter ended, I knew I did my best and gave them what I could and we moved on to formula and on with life. It was matter-of-fact. They needed to be fed and I fed them the way I was supposed to for as long as I could. And then I was free.
But now, feeding my baby isn’t a chore. It’s a bond. In fact, it’s a gift. And it’s ending.
We have survived sinus infections, flu, mastitis, pneumonia, and business trips. I have pumped in cars (parked and moving), in bathrooms, in airports, in offices, and in the Louisiana swamp. I remembered vitamins and counted ounces of water intake and measured and timed alcohol consumption. Whenever we left the house, I would keep an eye on the clock and a part of my brain would constantly be ready to alert me as to when it was time for the next feeding. My nursing cover was always ready to whip out, no matter when or where my baby needed to eat.
We plowed through The Great Incident wherein a certain very important person who shall go unnamed accidentally left an entire month’s worth of frozen pumped milk in a hot car and ruined it. I have never felt so devastated - as if I experienced the death of family member or the loss of a limb. And yet, we powered through and pumped and restocked the supply and soldiered on. Perhaps one of my proudest accomplishments.
Because it was that important. Not just for her consumption, but for our bond. Our thing that only we could have and only I could do for her. I am the only person who could give her the nutrition she has needed to live, to grow and to thrive. I alone have provided her with that, and all from within the cradle of my arms. But now it is coming to an end and so is this unique bond we share. And with it, I say goodbye to this life stage of mothering infants.
And it’s just so surprisingly sad.