This pic of us tonight could possibly be the last of us breastfeeding. In just a few hours I will be boarding a plane and leaving you for the next few days. I should be asleep right now, but sleep won’t come. My nerves are bad and I am feeling extremely anxious. Not so much about the nursing (what will be will be) but just over the fact that I’m leaving you in general. This will be the very first time in the last 15 months of our lives together that I will sleep without you by my side. Typically, I don’t suffer from separation anxiety; your sister and brother began staying overnight with Grandma from only a few weeks on and I was always A-ok with it. But with you, life just worked out that I’ve never needed to be away…until now. And so here we are…and I’m a wreck Maybe it’s because you’re the one I’ve nursed the longest, maybe it’s because I know you’re my last…but I’m still just so conflicted over the whole ordeal. I never imagined we’d still be nursing at this stage, and truthfully, in some ways it *is* getting a little old. I would love to be able to sleep through the entire night uninterrupted again and wear cute tops that don’t need stretchy necklines for easy access. I admit, it would be nice to fully have my body back to myself. But in other ways, it *never* gets old. Even now, when you sleep a little bit longer than usual in your crib, I toss fitfully, lifting up constantly to peer at you, wondering why you haven’t yet called for me. And when you finally do, I feel…relief. To retrieve you and nestle you against my chest while you nuzzle like a newborn babe is to finally fall into a content and restful slumber.
I don’t know what your reaction will be upon my return, but my plan is to follow your lead. I had no concrete plans to wean at this time, but since I am leaving town anyway it seems as good an opportunity as any to gauge your interest in continuing. If, on your own, you pounce on me as soon as I walk through the door then absolutely, this show will go on! But should you not seem interested any longer then we will close this chapter in our book and move on. Should that be, I’ll always have this beautiful reminder of our final session together.
A few days later, and I am back with my baby! And what a series of ups and downs it has been during this time. It wasn’t easy to hear that your first evening with Grandma was not a good one. You cried, you swatted your cup of milk away, and you sat up in bed and stared at the door whimpering. But as upsetting as this was to hear, my first night away was not as troubling for me as I had imagined. Maybe it was the exhaustion from travel, but surprisingly, I slept well. By the second night, however, I was engorged and missing you like crazy. You, however, did better this evening, cuddling up with Grandma and going right to sleep. In the middle of the night, you still refused milk from a cup but had no trouble falling back asleep with Grandma.
By night three, I was a mess. You were having a great time; the reports I received for you were that you were all smiles laughing, playing, and cuddling with Grandma and your cousin, eating and playing heartily, and snuggling and sleeping soundly. But for me, by this point, I had happened to run into three mothers on three separate occasions all with babies in tow exactly 15 months old. What are the chances? And then the last straw, I found myself at the airport, sitting next to a mother with three children with the exact same age differences as the three of you…it did me in and I was reduced to a teary mess. I couldn’t get back home fast enough.
Once there, all I could do was stare longingly at you, not wanting to wake you from your peaceful sleep. And for the first time in your life, you slept the entire night. I woke the next morning to sunshine streaming through the window and your cute face grinning at me over the top of your crib rails. I picked you up and you latched back on like we’d never missed a day. And already you’ve returned to waking in the middle of the night to snack several times. So…I guess that means our journey is not yet done. I’m ok with that. And even better, I also feel a little less anxious over whenever this time will finally come. This short separation has shown me that while the first night might have its difficulties, you will recover and adjust quickly, and maybe even continue sleeping through the night. Now that’s definitely something to look forward to. Maybe next time I’ll have to take a vacation for a week to give you time to completely wean. Sounds like we’ll be in touch soon, Grandma!