Monday, February 16, 2009

Bedtime Bottle

Every night for over 8 months I’ve nursed Meera to sleep. Sitting in the rocking chair in her room at the end of the day we’ve both settled in to peaceful silence as she drifts off, skin to skin, nuzzled close. Then I’ve carefully carried her to her crib and laid her down in the glow of her nightlight. Last night, for the first time, I gave her a bottle instead. It has been a few weeks coming. I’ve known I don’t have enough for her. And she’s been waking up earlier and more frequently because she’s hungry. I’ve held out on it, but for her sake I just couldn’t any longer. And so, sitting in the rocking chair I fed her an 8 ounce bottle. She happily and eagerly drank every drop of it, confirming what I already knew: it was time. I felt such relief to know that she was getting enough; that her tummy was full of warmth. Still, though, the sense of loss was deep. Sitting there in the half-darkness of her dimly lit room, with her snuggled in as close as I could get her, I watched her drink that bottle through blurry eyes. Tears ran slowly down my cheeks in two small streams. It is the ending of something real. I am grateful for how seamless it has been – this evolution from breast to bottle – but still, I mourn the loss of what I know is ending. I remember sitting in that same rocking chair, in that same dimness, watching my baby drink from me. For months that is all she had and I would marvel in the fact that every single molecule of her rapidly growing self had originated with me. I was full of awe at it. As Braydon started giving her bottles I’d sometimes peak through her door to see it in the middle of the night: I wanted to know what it looked like for her to drink from something other than me. I cried once or twice, standing there alone, watching her with him – pure and simple tears of joy at the beauty of it. I felt no loss then. But it is different now, now that she’s moving on to more and more bottles and less and less nursing. It isn’t that I’m not ready; I am ready. And I am fully confident that Meera’s ready. It is just that so much is changing so fast. And with change there is always loss. This tiny baby is moving into a new realm… a realm that I am only part of. It is beautiful and sad all at once. I am not the first mother to feel these profound feelings, to think these thoughts, to cry in the dimly lit baby’s room. But when it is you and your baby, you do feel that nobody else in the entire world could possibly feel it as much as you. Meera didn’t notice me crying. She was deeply, dizzily content to have that bottle. Surly it was a relief to her to finally be getting enough before bed. She slowly closed her eyes as the warm rich liquid filled her up. Then I carefully carried her to her crib and laid her down in the glow of her nightlight. It was the same as every other night. Except it was so different.



12 comments:

Heather said...

That was so beautiful and heartfelt and honest.

Your children are truly lucky to have such connected and tuned-in parents.

Haitian-American Family of Three said...

That was very beautifully written and made me cry. Your girl is so very loved!

ShannonC said...

This was lovely. Thanks for sharing.


The snarky side of me wonders where are all the whiners / self appointed judges claiming that you aren't a good mom unless you keep her on the breast till she's at least 5 years old...

ok.. no more being snarky. I'm a bad example of good behavior.

Anonymous said...

waaah. the last of the nursing is a weird mix of crazy emotions ... i wanted to quit and be more available to the other kids but I also really did not want to ... Lyd was ready at 8 months so we let go then too ... still sad!

Claudia and John said...

So wonderfully heartfelt and beautifully written. I had known and felt the same way with both of my babies too as I had breastfed both of them, but have never been able to put it into words like you have.

Love and Hugs,
Claudia

Deirdre said...

Tears here too. I had twinges of these feelings when first introducing Nora to solids—that realization that (both figuratively and literally) she was now growing apart from me. I can only imagine what it will feel like when we begin to wean, giving up that beautiful and intimate act we share only with each other. Bittersweet, for sure.

Of course, by that point we'll be packing her up to send her off to college, so maybe I'll be more focused on that larger act of letting go. :-)

BTW, I just caught up with the last few days of posts, and I wanted to say how sad it makes me that your beautiful blog has become a forum for such hateful commentary on careers and motherhood. You so aptly illustrate the complexity and ambivalence of our choices as mothers and professionals; it's hard to believe that the people making the disparaging comments have been reading your blog at all.

Ani said...

such a heartfelt post.

i never nursed our son, but i treasured those late night feeding sessions when all was quiet and it seemed it was just the two of us awake in the world.

she's such a happy baby girl!

Malia'sMama said...

But you had it, mama. You got that chance and her health, her well-being today came from you, drop by drop. It's a beautiful realization and memory.

Heather said...

Malia's Mama,
Hi friend! Yes, I know, I know, I did, I had it. I was thinking a lot about *that* when I was writing this post. I thought about how many of my adoptive-mommy-friends would do just about anything to have the chance to nurse their babies. And I also thought about how K & O (O in particular) would do just about anything to have had the chance to have been nursed by his mama (birthmother or me-- he'd happily take either). Yes, it is a beautiful realization and memory and I TRULY TRULY am grateful.
Lots of love to you and your baby girl!
:)
HBJ

me said...

I remember feeling much the same way as nursing came to a close. It's beautiful that you're able to embrace the beautiful ambiguity of the moment: knowing it's happening the "right" way for both of you and feeling the sadness of another inevitable separation from your little one.

Jenn said...

I so relate to this post. I loved nursing my kids and was so sad to give it up. I nuresed the last two until past their second birthdays and the day it ended I was a blubbering mess. Good for you for nursing so long!

Malia'sMama said...

Thank you, Heather. Thank you. xo