I held my breath this December as the new year hovered. I’ve no issues with resolutions or the holidays, my trepidation is in the echoes of change, these passages I am coming to know as a mom. I did not want, was not ready, am not ready, for this door to close. I know (though a part of me even as I type this thinks, “If his vasectomy somehow failed, if something slipped through, somehow, someway, it would be ok.”) that Finley is my last.
She fully embraces her role as baby, alternately angelic or demanding as her whim demands. It is miraculous to watch the unapologetic and irresistible machinations of “the baby.” I think, and this may change in years to come, we all admire her temerity. “Do it, Fin. Claim it!” She is, after all, doing exactly as we each would do were we not encumbered by the I shouldn’ts and I couldn’t possiblies. Declaring what she wants and clearing the way, literally and figuratively, to get it. God, if I could give them all one gift it would be that. Save them a lifetime of door-matting.
The new year came and went and my baby still nursed. She no longer turns to me like she used to, there aren’t so many cuddles throughout the day, but at night she claims me. First there comes a mew and then another. Sometimes I leap from the bed, but other times I hold myself back, I wait to make sure it isn’t one more case of shifting in her sleep rather than a true call for me. I know they twist and turn, make noises and rustles, but when it isn’t that, I go or rouse Sean and ask him to bring her to me. This time will be something we both lose, after all. While the midnight and predawn feedings may have felt to be mine alone, he has marked the hours I’ve spent away, the minutes rocking in moonlight, the hours shushing softly and stroking her brow as I held her in the guest room, each touch we had was a hollow he felt.
“Is she ok?” he’d ask as I settled back in the covers. The confirmation that he marked these times with me was something I could never describe, a euphoria and relief to know that the chronicling was not mine alone, that one day two voices, two hearts would retell these unremembered times.
Nearly a month has passed and still she nurses. We are on borrowed time, I know. I am readying as is she. It kills me to say that. I have loved these years like no other time in my life. The too tall, too this, too that, not nearly enough such and such has become a perfect fit. I have grown three babies, nurtured them in my body and then sustained them on nothing but my milk for months. They’ve nursed to health and nursed to sleep. They’ve done it as I’ve worked and done it as we’ve traveled.
Now, 5+ years after I nursed my first, I hear the softest murmurs of protest. I am ready to sleep through the night, ready to accept that it is past comfortable to nurse her in public and that most of the time she uses it as a ploy. I know that a cuddle or simply undiluted attention will do, and yet, I am loathe to initiate the end.
Tonight another milestone snuck up on me. So preoccupied with nursing, I forgot the crib. She has been turning to her sister’s beds for months, but last night she asked to sleep there. “Finny, in’a here. Sleep. Now. Me, Finny in’a Bwi-Bwi’s a’bed? Puh-weese?” As I type this she is in the toddler bed Sean brought over from the house this afternoon. It had been bound for Goodwill, our plan being to let her transition to the new house by staying in her crib.
“No, thanks,” she projected, “I do it, I do it.” We know her well enough to comply, even to the literally unspoken.
I feel sheepish, but grateful. Little miss “I-know-their-cues-and-can-predict-their-milestones-blah-blah-blah” got it wrong. My last baby slept her last night in her crib and I missed it. I only hope she’ll give me one more night of nursing before she slips the final moments of tiny babies in my life away until these beauties become mommies to their own babies.