Leta slept in a little later this morning, until about 7:20 AM. Since we’ve been back from San Francisco she’s been going to bed at 6 PM and waking at 6 AM, so this morning I lay there awake waiting for her morning noises, little grunts and sighs and gurgles that say, “Please come get me now because I am awake and very, very cute.”
While I was lying there I was trying not to think about how this morning was going to be the last time I will ever breastfeed her, but of course that’s all I could think about. Both of my boobs were leaking, and the pain of not feeding in over 12 hours was settling in my chest and making its way up to my neck. I secretly wished that she would remain sleeping all day, perhaps forever, so that we would never have to have a last feeding. Sometimes I feel this way about her developmental stages, like why does she have to grow teeth? Can’t she be gummy forever? Life can be lived without teeth, just ask my Granny. And crawling? Crawling is so overrated. It’s hard on the knees.
I know I’ve said this before but I honestly never thought I would feel this way about having to give up breastfeeding. It’s just never been easy, and I’ve been bound to this child for six months without any break. But this morning as she snuggled in my arms and ate her last boob-delivered breakfast I sobbed and gushed tears on her porcelain soft cheeks. And when she was full I held her close a few extra minutes so that she could lift her arm to my face and pinch my nose. And then I put her whole hand in my mouth to nibble on her fat fingers and to muffle my weeping.
I won’t ever forget the way she constantly moved her hands and feet while she ate, grabbing at my shirt and scratching the Holy Living Shit out of the back of my arm. She would use whichever hand was free to pound my chest, or to seek out my face, or to stick straight up in the air like an empty flagpole. Sometimes she would cup her face or her head and sigh as if to say, “God this job is hard, but somebody’s gotta do it, I guess.” And I’d always respond, “Leta, there are children somewhere in Africa right now who would LOVE a clean boob to suck on.”
Recently she had become easily distracted while eating and would stop mid-suck to see who else was in the room or to study the pattern on the pillowcase or to scream at me because I was watching “Pyramid” without her. One afternoon I was feeding her on the couch while cleaning off the TiVo, and I started an episode of “Pyramid.” The moment she heard Donny Osmond’s insipid, robotic clucking her eyes got as big as hubcaps and she stopped eating, whipped her head around and stiffened her body like a plank of wood, a recent trick of hers to signal TOTAL AND UTTER DISSATISFACTION, as if the CONSTANT, INCESSANT, NEVER-ENDING BLEATING wasn’t getting the point across already. How could I watch our favorite game show while she was facing the other way, oh horrible, mean and unloving beast-mother?
I’ve received a lot of advice about drugs and breastfeeding and weighing my options and making sure that I’m not weaning unnecessarily, and you have to believe me when I say that this is a very informed decision I have made. This is something I have to do, and although it is ripping me apart inside I actually feel comforted at having made this choice. I do believe that this is the first step toward me getting better, toward me remaining alive and not leaving my daughter mother-less, or leaving my husband without a companion or lover.
Leta will be spending the next three days with my mother who will make every effort to get her to take a bottle. I warned my mother that she will be dealing with the most stubborn force in the universe, more powerful than gravity, more toxic than nuclear radiation; she’ll be tending Leta, God’s Revenge. I will be spending the next three days in boob-lockdown, wrapped in a dozen ace-bandages and popping Advil like Nacho Cheese Doritos.
And I’ll be mourning, mourning the passing of this stage in my relationship with my child, mourning the end of our chest-to-chest closeness, mourning the loss of my new, beautiful breasts. Oh curvy, womanly figure! I hardly knew ye!