It was the night before weaning and everyone was asleep; everyone that is except me. I sat there watching Yousef sleep. How many nights had I done that? How many days did I wear him while he napped, held and cuddled and sat? How many hours did I spend nursing him to sleep, and then nursing him again back to sleep? Nursing him for nutrition and nursing him for comfort? Twenty one months and seven days.
Everything comes to an end, and things always change.
I don’t do well with change; never have and I am not sure I ever will. I try as best I can to prepare myself but ultimately I need my mourning period. I need time to let things that had grown on me go. And this is no different.
I spent many sleepless nights trying to get Yousef to nurse. We helped him and tricked him. We nudged him and taught him. We used my boob, tried a tube and used a bottle. We supplemented with formula. I medicated my infection, hired a breastfeeding consultant and nursed through pain. I held on steadfast to my I wanted to nurse my last baby just I like nursed my first. I tried to convince myself otherwise but I couldn't bring myself to give up on nursing. It would certainly have been easier, less painful, more convenient but it wasn't what I wanted to do. I could’ve listened to my friends and family who had my best interest in mind and given up on the ordeal altogether, after all formula these days is a remarkable source of nutrition, but I didn’t. It was more than just a matter of ease and convenience, and it certainly wasn’t all about the food. It was about me. And him. About the bond, the connection, the attachment, the experience. It was about being together with Yousef like I had been with Jannah-Rae. And I was not about to give that up, or away. And I didn’t. Until I had to.
And I had to too soon; again. It’s always too soon. It always comes too fast. I am never ready. Twenty one months and seven days isn't long enough. I don’t think it would have ever been long enough. But it is time, or at least that’s what I am told.
So I nursed him one last time, one last go-back-to-sleep nurse, one last comfort. I had been nursing him “one last time” for the past week. One last Friday. One last Saturday. One last mid-morning nurse. One last nurse in public. One last nurse instead of food. I had “one last” for everything I could think of. Until it was really the last one.
At 3:21am he woke up. "Nan-nan," he called. And, with nan-nan I responded. He fell back to sleep on my chest. I tried to move him but he crawled right back on. I think he felt I was up to something. I am sure he has understood the many conversations we have had about leaving him and JR with Grandma and Granpa while Jeff and I went to New York. I am certain he knew that the "end" was near; he had heard us talking about it over and over again. I believe he knew exactly what was coming, and when, and wanted to draw it out as much as he could. Just the day before he would not let me put him down for a minute; he asked me to hold him all day long.
At 3:45am I had to lay him beside me, I needed to get up and get ready, our train left at 5:20am. He didn't want to let me go. He squealed. I patted his back and gave him a kiss. I made sure he was slumbering. I got up and got dressed. I packed my bag and slung my pump to my shoulder; I hadn't used that pump in over a year and a half. I didn't even say goodbye.
At 4:45am I was told he woke up again looking for me. I wasn't there. Elmo on the iPhone took my place. He seemed content. I didn't push the matter. The last time had come and gone, unceremoniously ~ again. The journey was difficult, then easy, then hard. Begrudgingly, and with support, is the only route; there is no way I would have been able to wean him voluntarily, just as I would never have been able to wean his sister before him.
In two days I will come back. I am not sure what to, but I am hoping to a still-loving son.