I knew it was about time. She hardly ever swallowed anymore. She never went to sleep—or if she did, she woke up as soon as her body touched the mattress, and commenced howling her outrage to the household until she finally conked out mid-cry. I toyed with the idea, but I just couldn’t let go of that last, bedtime nursing.
Maybe it was because she got the giggles whenever she saw me sit down in the chair by the window. Maybe it was because nursing was so darned hard for so long. When she was born, she had a VSD and an ASD, which, for the uninitiated, means that her blood spun in circles in her heart instead of pumping to and from the lungs properly—so she could never breathe. Nursing was a 45-minute battle, 8 times a day for 6 months. I would come away with my shoulder and neck muscles locked up. But I believed that it was the best thing for her, and so I fought the battles. Breastfeeding was not a life-giving experience until the day they took her off the respirator at Cardinal Glennon hospital, post-op, and she became a new child.
Whatever it was, I wasn’t ready to wean, even though I knew the time was near. And then, last Thursday, I climbed into the van after the Twilight Festival and realized that tonight was the night. It was a decision made in two seconds. For the first time ever, I put Alex to bed and left Julianna to Christian’s care.
This evening, almost a week later, I dared to put Julianna to bed myself again. She was very tired. We played a little on the changing table, and then I folded her limber little body up as if she was still a newborn and rocked her in my arms. She looked up at me as if there was nothing else in the whole world except me. The urge was almost irresistible. It seemed so obvious that I should go over and sit down, pull up the Boppy, and snuggle down with her. But I didn’t. She doesn’t need it. It would just be for me.
Bittersweet, these milestones.