[Ed note: Yes, today is Quinn's 1st birthday - and he should be probably getting a post about that. This post - it's kind of about that - but a little more about me than about him. So please forgive this bit of self-involvement. I've had this post brewing my my head for awhile and need to get it out there. If only to stop hearing "closing time" playing over and over in my head (which, did anyone else think that Ben Folds Five sang that? I totally did. Also, who the hell is Semisonic?). Also, none of Q's month-day posts have appeared ON the day - so why break tradition now?]
Today, Quinn turned one - he's been with us for a whole year. It also means that I've been nursing - for a year - a whole year. I didn't really think I could ever do that. When I found out that I'd be able to nurse this time around I set low expectations for myself. I thought well let's see how 6 weeks go and then 6 months. I took the pump to work preparing myself for the fact that maybe it wouldn't work out. And here were are - a year later. I did it. WE did it: me, Quinn, Gordon, Lily. Because truly, it was team effort. And a worthwhile effort it has been. I feel so lucky to have been able to share this experience with Quinn.
It's been hard at times for sure. There were the nights at the beginning when he'd cluster feed and I swore I was shooting fire beams out my eyes when Gordon would bring him to me again after what seemed like 10 minutes of sleep (when in reality G had been trying desperately to quite him down for like an hour). There was pain at the beginning when we were figuring out latching and then again for a brief time when he was figuring out his new teeth. Then when we finally found our rhythm, I went back to work and began a long and tumultuous relationship with my pump.
But the hardest part? The thing about nursing that surprised me more than anything else? Weaning. I know that I don't have to wean now. I know that I can keep nursing him for a while longer and that would be fine. And honestly, I'm not looking to draw a line in the sand because today is his 1st birthday. But I AM done with the pump. There will be no more of that. I've been working in the region of diminishing returns for awhile now. I'll pump 2x at work to barely bring home 5 oz that day. It's frustrating and not really worth it anymore. So this past week was my last week pumping. And although I will keep nursing in the morning and at night as long as Quinn wants to - the day time sessions will be over.
And I suspect that quitting pumping will probably bring about an end to nursing in the near future. Quinn already doesn't seem that into it anymore. Our night time session has been getting shorter and shorter and he spends less of the time actually drinking. I fear that the drop in my supply caused by quitting the pump might also spell the end of nursing for us. And my feelings about that? Are so very mixed.
On the one hand - oh blessed freedom - I can TASTE it. How wonderful to not be required 4 times a day to provide nourishment and comfort - to be the ONLY person who can do that? But at the same time - how terrible to NOT be required 4 times a day to provide nourishment and comfort? to be the only person who can do that?
I remember when Lily was born - or a few days later - I turned to Gordon and told him that I missed being pregnant. He looked at me like I was crazy, because I tell you I complained about being pregnant THE WHOLE TIME. I am not one of those happy, pregnant people. It's work for me - and I will let you know about it. But it's true - when Lily was born and she was no longer inside me, no longer a part of me - it hurt a little, and I missed her. I realized then that having children is all a big lesson in letting go. You spend nine months carrying around this beautiful new life, nurturing it, being dependent on each other and then one day you let the life go out of your body and into your arms. You cuddle and feed and nourish that baby. You watch your baby become a toddler, delight in their first steps, first words, first everything. You watch them blossom and grow and become - and with every step move a little further away from you. You clap and cheer and applaud as they take those steps into the world. You give them tools to thrive and succeed and you teach yourself how to love fiercely and let go at the same time.
Because I could not nurse Lily I experienced a more abrupt letting go when she was born. The transition from being totally dependent on me for everything to sharing that care with others was sudden - a quickly cut cord. I went through a period of sadness when my milk came in and I couldn't share it with her. But I quickly moved past that and Gordon and I fell into a natural rhythm of co-parenting. With Quinn the transition has been more gradual. I naively thought that I had escaped that period of sadness since I got to nurse him. My milk came in and I could give it with him - bravo - no sad! But I realize now that I had just postponed that sadness for a little bit. Because now, as our night time nursing sessions become shorter, as I watch him reach for his crib, exhausted after a long day exploring his world I realize that we are on the edge of that next step - the next letting go.
A friend once posted on facebook that she was sad that her baby boy was turning one. And at the time I didn't truly understand. I'm not SO much a baby person and when Lily turned one I think I was relieved to have a lot of that baby time behind me. The first year can be tough and it is such a relief when they start crawling, standing, walking, needing you just a tad bit less. But now, maybe I understand a bit better. I am happy and excited and relieved that Quinn is one. That we have made it through another first year - and we are all a little tired, a little older, but a whole lot richer. But at the same time, it is bittersweet - this feeling of ending, of moving on. We may continue nursing a little while longer, but we are moving on.
A week or so a had a dream in which I randomly bumped into my OB and she told me that I was 15 weeks pregnant. I had no idea. She also remarked that the baby seemed ready to come so she offered to go ahead an deliver it (ah dreamworld - where pregnancies last 15 weeks, IF ONLY). I had another beautiful baby girl and I was all excited when I brought her home to Gordon (hey honey - look what I found!). And then I realized, as I looked at the pump sitting in the bedroom - oh no! Now I have to KEEP NURSING! Then I woke up. As with all my dreams, you don't really need a book to interpret it. I am sad about losing my "baby" as he rockets towards toddlerhood, yet I am relieved to be putting that pump away and getting my body back soon . As is par for the course with parenthood, I am a mix of conflicting emotions. And although there is sadness, there is much happiness and much anticipation for the next stages in my baby boy's life journey. Yes, I am letting go a bit - but I'm not going far!
"Closing time - every beginning comes from some other beginning's end."