19 months…that is how long we have had this special relationship that only a mother and child can have. 19 months of middle of the night feedings, early mornings, and late night snacks. 19 months of snuggles, laughter, mixed with exhaustion, frustration and hard moments. 19 months of remembering those early weeks when I wanted to give up, but you challenged me to continue. 19 months of giving thanks that we have shared in this special time together. 19 months of you looking to me for nourishment, warmth, safety, and security in this special way. 19 months of nursing.
I never thought we would make it this far. Those first few weeks were the hardest of my life. We couldn’t quite get it right all the time, you cried, I cried, we were so tired, you were so hungry, I was just trying to provide for you. But when we finally got the hang of this nursing thing, away we went- 2 peas in a pod, 2 dancers who finally learned the steps, mother and son sharing in what we were meant to do. We looked forward to our special time whether 2 am or 2 pm, whether for 5 minutes or 2 hours. And now that this season is coming to an end, I give thanks. Looking back on it all, I wouldn’t have traded these countless hours for anything else in the world.
I feel sad, happy, accomplished, free, nostalgic, and a bit hesitant in knowing that we will have to learn and find new ways to bond- all the while knowing that you may not remember all of those countless hours we spent together- but I believe that in the depth of your soul, you will remember what we shared, and together, we will carry this in our hearts and into the next season of our lives. I love you, Xavier.
A Prayer for the End of Nursing: Rev. Rachel Wrenn
O Lord, you have searched me
and known me.
You knew the moment when that sweet baby skin
first touched my chest
when that sweet little mouth
gaped like a fish
when that shocking moment of connection was made:
Mother. Child. One.
You knew the struggles, and the pain.
The mostly sleepless nights
The one- (two-) (three-) (three-thirty-) a.m. wake-up calls.
The disconcerting, disorientating, barely-functioning
the sweet baby skin and the gaping little mouth
the instant peace and the murmuring suckling.
You knew the feeling of miracle
that awesome moment of realization
that exactly what they need
is exactly what I have in me
and everything that is me
(milk, body, heart, arms)
is given freely to sustain and nurture their life
—and then that awe-full moment of recognition
of deeper appreciation
for the words “this is my body,
given for you.”
This is my body, given for them.
You knew the rhythms and the hours
of nursing and pumping
of sleeping and snuggling
of crying and impatience and the frantic, shaky, waving tiny hands
as the shirt gets caught
or the store clerk goes too slow
or a hundred other impediments leap up
between the present moment and MILKRIGHTNOW!
You knew the feeling of panic
the counting of bags in the freezer
of hours between pumpings
of ounces in the bottle
until this all could be DONE
secretly knowing how hard it would be
for it all to end.
You knew the feeling of gratitude
for those rosy lips, parted in sleep
for that instant smile when we’ve been apart
for the feeling of expansion
of my heart
of my life
of yet another way I will live out my vocation as your child
by stewarding and tending and nurturing my own child;
the awesomeness of being part of your Creation—
You knew the twinge
the first twinge
that first moment when they start to pull away
when the solids that were rejected
or tasted and then used as hair gel
become interesting, delicious, good
and the sessions of sleepy suckling snuggling
start to lessen.
And you know now
The feeling of wrenching
because it all is done.
The sadness, the mourning, the loss
interwoven with the relief, the joy, the pride
the cords of reassurance and the embroidery of gratitude
that we made it this far in the breastfeeding marathon
that I gave them this much
that this experience of oneness, of miracle, of struggle
of sleepy suckling snuggling
will live on in my body
as they once lived in my body:
nourished, cherished, cradled
in a safe place of sweet memory and thanksgiving
give me comfort
give me peace
give me reassurance
that though this type of sustenance is through
my hands, my body, my heart, my spirit will still be needed
Just as you do for me.
You knit me together in my mother’s womb:
knit my heart together now.