Is the amount of time I had been lactating.
Nine years ago my second son, Julian, was born. Then
came Ilo, then Opal. Tandem nursing was the baton in-between each
I was waiting for the perfect moment, the moment to
actually stop nursing altogether. I was waiting for the flu season to end. I
was waiting for school to end. I was waiting for the five days of "more
milk" she requested to end. I was waiting for one last hug. I was waiting
for, just before preschool starts. I was waiting for her to tell me
she was ready. I was waiting for no more boo-boos. I was just waiting. I just
didn't want to say goodbye and to allow the most beautiful moments of my life
to slip away never to return. Leaving memories to fade in their place.
Five days. It's been five days from the day I
declared, "Opal, today is our last day having Mama milk." To which she agreed. (Of course she had
no idea the implications of this agreement.)
I talked to Opal for roughly half of a year about
winding down, and then finally ceasing to nurse. In the late winter we stopped
our nighttime nursing. It was becoming too much, neither of us were really
sleeping and I was perpetually exhausted beyond the point of being able to
engage on a normal level with adults. Completing sentences and having normal
intelligent dialogue wasn't part of my repertoire. (Problem not solved, in case
you're wondering.) I was just too tired. ALL of the time. It took us about two
months but we finally succeeded in eliminating our two or three or four nightly
nursing sessions sometime in March. It was a great thing for both of us. I was
committing to myself a daily morning yoga practice and knew I wouldn't be able
to do me, unless sleep became a more familiar part of my life. (On a side note:
Apparently insomnia exists outside of nursing, despite my efforts.)
I was never ready to let go.
Being a mother is the hardest thing I've ever done.
I won't go on to vet that statement but believe me when I say I have gone
through some very hardworking-fast-paced-kick-your-ass-times in my life but
nothing has compared to being a stay at home mom of four kids. At least not for
me. It is profoundly beautiful and tears me down daily.
So Thursday I quietly decided today was the day. I
told Opal and she smiled. I promised her we would do something special
(together) to celebrate in a week or two. That night I nursed her for the last
time. I didn't check my phone or read my book while nursing like I normally
would. I just soaked it in and enjoyed the moment. She fell asleep quickly and
I watched her for a while until we both dozed off together. The following two
days were easy and we both seemed oddly unaffected. Sunday morning during yoga,
I took Janu Sirsasana B and without warning the gut wrenching sadness
began to flow from my heart. I cried for probably ten minutes, tears mixed with
sweat quietly dripping away. I was in a safe place and letting go in a way
that felt right. Cleansing.
One thing I've learned since having kids is that
you have to learn to let go. Over and over, you let go.