Escape is futile

When M was nearly 14 months old, his waning interest in nursing turned from waning to all done. He would nurse for a few seconds when I offered–and I did offer, same as always–then struggle to sit up. Insistence on resumed breastfeeding led to crying, pushing, and even the occasional bite. I’m all done, he seemed to say. I, on the other hand, was not. I’m not sure when I would have been done, but it wasn’t then, not on those terms. I threw myself on my bed, sobbing. I checked daily for milk, just in case he changed his mind. He did not. Then I told myself that I would soon be pregnant (which was true) and that I would have another chance. It would turn out so much different, so much better.

I was wrong. It may have been different, but it’s not better, not by a long shot.

We’re on Day 4 of no nursing. No measurable nursing. K does just as her brother: polite sucks, not so polite rejection. This time we’ve traded biting for vehement head-shaking, requests for water or Daddy, and even a tiny hand clapped over the mouth. And yes, that’s as insulting as it sounds. I pull out all the stops: positions, songs, cuddling, rocking, etc. The answer’s always the same. Three sucks, maybe, then all done. All done. ALL DONE, ALREADY. Sheesh, this lady can’t take a hint.

And I’m back to crying, checking for milk, and being generally miserable. Because the kicker this time is that there is no other baby. I’m not going to be excitedly pregnant in the coming months. No third chance around here. Nursing is the last vestige of my stint giving birth, and as it comes to a close, I can’t help feeling terribly mournful. It’s not that I’ve lost something. It’s just that any great experience comes with the sadness as the event reaches its end–wedding, school, even childbirth. That sadness is a sign of appreciation, and I feel fortunate that I feel it. But it sucks just the same. And I don’t know how to get past it. B reminds me of the wonderful freedom this means, how my body is once again my own, that my little girl is not longer a baby but a fun, interactive, amazing little person now. Yet I hold on, fighting the inevitable.

It seems to be a common theme in my life lately. M turning three despite my best efforts to stall. A long beloved playgroup fizzling out. And now nursing. I cling to what I’ve known, what I love. It’s appreciation, which is good, but it’s denial, which is not good. I have such trouble with change that when these things happen, I feel adrift. It’s as if I’m on a boat leaving shore, looking towards a new island, a new stage of life. But I know this island. I like this island. And I’m in the water already, and the tide has me in its grasp. The sea is stronger than I could ever be, time is stronger than any sea. And yet the sand is still on my fingertips and I don’t want to shake it off. This was my sand. How dare anyone take it against my will?

The best answer I can come up with is to change my will. If you can’t beat them, join them, right? But here’s another cliche, right back at you: easier said than done.

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