It was story time at my house just a few short moments ago. Don just finished negotiating his way through the bedtime ritual where Wilson tries to finagle "Just one more book", and then "A drink of water please daddy?", and "Where is my Gaugi?" When all his demands were met it was my turn- it is my job to tuck him in and close the light. I also ask for the last goodnight kiss. Tonight the response was a nonchalant "Sure". Then he thrust his arms up in the air and raised his chubby little cheek to my lips.
In that moment, with his tiny little hands around my neck, I am reminded of him as a baby. It was a sweet moment, but it gave way to sadness, and a little fear. This is all going too fast. My baby is gone- he has grown into this soft spoken funny little boy who is trying to master the alphabet and Velcro shoes.
I just seems like months ago that I was desperately trying master being a mom to an infant. My first challenge was to breastfeed him. I had it drilled into to me by the Breastfeeding Nazis that this was best for baby and that everyone can breast feed- it is a matter if you care enough too. Besides, they stressed, breastfeeding is natural!
Yes, it might be, but some mothers in the wild eat their young. That is natural too.
To any of you ladies out there in cyberspace who are gestating right now, or perhaps your bun is just fresh out of the oven, listen to me: Breastfeeding is a learned behavior; it takes time and it can be painful. Do what is best for you and baby, sometimes the bottle is best for you both. I was foolish, I hung in there for nine months of breastfeeding- but man I suffered. He was feeding every 45 minutes, he had a horrible latch, and he would not take a bottle of expressed milk. I remember one afternoon, after a particularly long night, holding Wil in my arms and dreading feeding him. I was just too sore: cracked and bleeding sore. I looked down at this cute little bundle crying and thinking to myself: I don't know how much longer I can do this kid.
My sweet little babe just looked up at me and smacked his lips.
I lost part of my right nipple at one point. Not pretty.
As difficult and painful those late night feedings were I do miss that part of his life. I loved the feel of his little body tucked in close to mine. While he fed, whether it was the breast or later the bottle, he would rub my arm softly and would stare up at me until he passed out in a milk coma. For a little while longer I would hold him, rocking him slightly and trying to coax out any burps that might be bubbling within. I remember the soft whisper of his breath on my neck, the scent of his bath oil, and his tiny little hands on my chest.
More than once- as I stared into the blue of his eyes, I wondered to myself if he knew: if he could ever know, just how much he was loved?
And here I am, with Mother's Day approaching, as I tuck my young son into bed, suddenly wondering if there was a time when I was a baby, that my Mother held me in her arms and asked herself: "Does she know, could she ever know just how much she is loved?"
Yes mom. I do.