it’s sort of an in-between sleep and awake swirled around place, that milky time between mama and babe, the sum of all those times as the babe is tiny medium bigger biggest oh so big i can’t let him lean over me to get “the other milk” anymore or my rib cage will implode… it’s a blur, it’s a dream, it’s like it’s happening underwater, it just goes on and on and is both always and never changing. it’s mamamilklove. no two consecutive days or even nursing events are alike, there is always change and growth and newness. and yet, from inside it, it feels like it is never going to end and will always be this way forever. it has been years and years after all. zero, one, two, three, four. and to hear it from the only other person who has a say in the matter, “i’ll stop having mama milk when i’m twenty.”
only by standing outside of it once in a while and looking at snapshots in time can you see the change and even then it’s hard and what you can never see, is the thing you sometimes want to see most, which is the future, how the choices i am making now are going to turn out…
and if you make a choice to commit for the long haul and let the child lead or decide you’re making a new name for it called cooperative weaning, which makes it sound more like you’re both leading, but you just happen to be deciding to keep going not rushing him not trying to manipulate the timing… then you are mostly alone and have even fewer mama kindreds to lean on for perspective, besides those snapshots of self that you only have time for… when you’re lying there nursing for a teensy bit longer than you would like, again, and your head is in that milky in between space which is the only way you survived this long.
mamamilklovesnapshot: latching my nicu baby on in spite of the nurses admonitions, in spite of the oxygen thingie still in his nose, deciding once and for all this is my baby and i make the decisions and feeling so empowered by the amount of weight gain from that first time nursing (because of course he got weighed before and after, lest i starve my child, and the nurses were baffled because the numbers were so high they just couldn’t be right.) his complete relaxation, for the first time. mine, too.
mamamilklovesnapshots nursing on buses, in public places, in parks, in parking lots, in bed, in every room, in the sling, in the bathtub, on the toilet, on the floor, at yoga class, at work…
mamamilklovesnapshot: 8 month old dreadfully sick congested baby. thanking all gods and goddesses for mama milk and its healing power.
mamamilklovesnapshot: crying for mama milk turning to beating on my upper chest for mama milk turning to signing for mama milk turning to “mama milk.” (interesting to me how his first word was mama, but milk was one of the last words he learned. i wonder if he figured the two were one in the same for a good long while there in the beginning.)
mamamilklovesnapshot: you turning one and nothing mysteriously happening to make it seem like mama milk should stop.
mamamilklovesnapshot: 15 months and the relief for both of us of nursing all night long, after working all day, my first days back to working away from him full time. his relief: mama came back. my relief: our attachment is going to be okay.
mamamilklovesnapshot: you turning two and nothing mysteriously happening to make us think we should stop. nursing on demand with a toddler who now took up more than my lap, and a good slice of the bed. nursing at the farmer’s market and projecting lots of things and doing lots of internal dialogue.
mamamilklovesnapshot: you turning three. nothing mysteriously happening… many people no longer aware of us nursing at all, since mostly it happened at home. not that we were asking for their opinions anyway. asking to nurse at age 3 at the farmer’s market and me doing my first real delaying. sometimes. offering again later, if i said i would, when it was a good time. nursing for 5 seconds for owies or upsets now is all that it takes. mama relief every time a bug comes through and we are “still” nursing, “still” able to fall back on mama milk to help heal.
mamamilklovesnapshot: you turning four, with nothing mysterious happening. (i’m noticing a pattern and am now confident that age cut-offs are completely arbitrary. i suspected, before, but now i am confident.) no longer asking to nurse out at the farmer’s market. age 4. big boy, stretching that attachment rubber band.
mamamilklovesnapshot: a month ago. napping becoming sporadic. nursing to sleep at bedtime and on days when naps happen. wake up nursing still a long blurry sweet snuggle time. nothing in between (or should i say too much else to stop and have mama milk in between). almost never even for owies. still some middle of the night nursing once in a while.
mamamilklovesnapshot: this week. falling asleep at night listening to me read the hobbit. still telling me the order of nightly business before bed including “potty then brush teeth then read hobbit then milk” but then reading “just one more page” until his eyes close. mama amazement and wonder at watching eyes close without any milk involved whatsoever. almost no more napping. almost no more nursing. almost. wake up snuggle time nursing, as i guessed, is the last holdout. almost. and here comes cold and flu season. and mama doesn’t mind/secretly rejoices about that one time a day, the 5 days a week her boy is waking up with her.
mamamilklovesnapshot: yesterday. yellow jacket stings on his leg. “oww it hurts!!! i’m getting poked a lot of times!” big bad owie owie owie. huddled on mama’s lap getting slathered with baking soda. no mention of mama milk. wow, a mama thinks to herself. wow, this really is going to happen.