Nearing an end, summons a new beginning. I’ve been trying to just sit and be with my feelings; some of inadequacy, some tugs and pulls at the apron strings holding my confidence in place oh so delicately. I know this will pass- I’m just struck with my inability to know the right choice right now. I’m a mom- we’re supposed to know what is right, what is best, when to call to action and when to just be. I’m sure the right answer is there in my purse along with the spare diaper, lipstick and car keys. We do our best. But what do you do when that best is unclear. And the decision lies between the two of us. One who knows too much to be comfortable with either choice. And the other with the will of pure instinct and a new instinct that is growing. With little care for fact, or truth or my attempts to reason with her.
What I do know:
*the day will come when this is small beans
*the day will come when I will wish this was the most conflict my heart is holding
* I researched, I did my homework
* I did more than most would have thought possible from us
*I can’t know what I didn’t know any earlier then I knew it
*I did more than a lot of people rationally and acceptably do
* I tried
* She tried
*I love her
*She loves me
*We are connected and bonded irrevocably
*I know stopping may negatively impact her in the future
*I know continuing may negatively impact her in the future
*I know I had the best support and knowledge currently out there
*I know the saying that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make her drink applies to more then horses, cats and babies
*I know my heart is breaking
* I know my heart will heal
*I know I’m tenacious to the point of being the very picture of stubborn
* I know she is too
*I know this is genetic
*I know we are more alike than different
*I know you can’t tell me anything
*I know I’m a good listener
*I know I would do it all again
* I know I’ll let it go
*I know I’ll think of something
*I know I’ll never make an ultimatum again
*I know I’ll return to that life lesson again and again
I know some will say maybe this is some sort of transference some unnamed, undiagnosed grief over not being able to control nature- what already is. But truly that doesn’t feel like it fits. That’s not what is in my heart. I know there is an outline to our lives that we will continually push up against. Sometimes it will fit best, look best, work best to ride that line, to stay within it. Sometimes we’ll do best to color over and outside of it. Sometimes we’ll pick up our mental erasers and just rid our lives of that ill-defining line and start the illustration of our lives over again. I know whichever we choose at a given time-;well, it is still the snapshot, the micro-image of our lives in that instant. It is not forever.
So I don’t know the best artist’s technique here. And maybe that’s ok. Maybe I don’t have to do it all, be right all of the time, succeed or perfect in every detail. Maybe today, just today is all I need to think about and all I need to get through till my head clears, my eyes can focus on the bigger collection of illustrations through all the shades of gray. And the lot of us can each in turn, take our own turn at illustrating what we know for the other.
I don’t know who to talk to about this. I don’t know who gets the hows, the why it matters. I feel like most don’t really get my point of view and why it is important and I don’ t know how to handle my own feelings when I can’t talk through them with someone who gets it. Do I press on? And if I do is it shear stubbornness ebbing me on like the repetitive lapping of the never-ending tide? Is that OK?
Things have been hard, really hard, lots of tears and raised, sharp voices- especially from those in our home who in theory, don’t have the skills to articulate yet. And yet- indeed, her objection is there. Calling it her wish or preference doesn’t begin to describe her dogged outrage at my not listening to her. I smile in my heart at her sheer force of will. This person is small and mighty now. She has more strength and conviction in her rightness and her presence of mind then most adults do in her brief eight months of life.
I started this note last week while in tears and turmoil myself after a follow-up session with Kathy that didn’t go any better than the previous week. I wanted a clear path- even though I wrote what I know down and that I said I know not to make ultimatums- I obviously wasn’t listening to even myself ;if not her. When we got home that evening I decided to go give the Quail a cuddle. I always feel better when I can hold her near, breathe her in, feel her soft skin and the tender spot on her head that lets me kiss her heartbeat, gaze into her true, steady eyes and quick upturned smile. So we did a little quiet, low-key bonding and then with her grabbing and rooting I got it- I got the difference between session and home nursing. I can replicate sound, sensation, lighting, texture and position, but none of tha t matters if I wasn’t conscious of the spirit in which it was offered. I had recently put my focus on an end goal, I had read of other mother’s success, I had doubted my dedication to the process and had started to judge our attempts to become what other nursing pairs are. I had ceased to focus on the Quail and our bond. I did cry a bit about this to a friend- and sure enough she didn’t get it. I repeated what Kathy had summarized for us that the Quail has the physical ability to breastfeed (anatomy structures and alignments). She is stronger and has the endurance to breastfeed. She has better neurological/sensory processing for breastfeeding. Psychologically she is struggling to accept breastfeeding. Her sucking is no longer reflexive, it is purposeful. My friend replies, “So she breastfeeds now and she didn’t used to be able to right?”
Oh. Yes. That is true. It may not look like other mother’s nursing. Of course nursing my three-year old doesn’t look like the majority of other mother’s nursing either. Many children wean by this age. Many children go through nursing strikes. Perhaps that is all the last couple of weeks were. Or maybe it was all in my head- maybe the transference at play here was my unease at what I perceived as not being successful. Because, now- now that I’m not illustrating what we do in those terms- those negative terms- we are successful. She does nurse. And sometimes she doesn’t. And; yes- I think maybe that is ok.
She is SO beautiful. I love this photo so much.
Things I told myself when MC was small and getting smaller:
Be at peace with the way things are
Trust the flow of life
Trust your innate wisdom and follow what it tells you to do
Trust that love prevails above all things
And so, I kept trying despite the same results. Then I realized the time to stop trying. It is indeed small beans now. The bond is more of a dance, I think. Ours doesn’t have a basic step, but it sure has plenty of other steps.
You really are truly amazing. I don’t know if I fully get it either because our experience played out differently but I do get these parts;
– you want the bond of nursing
– you want the many many benefits of nursing for both of you and all of you
– it’s been so much harder than than anyone expected
A has been nursing well from about 7 weeks and now she is on a daytime nursing strike. She wakes up a few times in the night and drinks heartily. It’s been about a month. My son did this too at about 9 months. It passed eventually with the help of a pump and he nursed until just past 3 years old. I’m sure it’ll pass with A too but if it doesn’t, I like you will just have to accept that.
I have the utmost admiration for you. Not only are you a wonderful mom but a compelling writer and you’re working full-time. I’m in Canada and I have maternity benefits for a year. I can’t imagine trying to work and manage the first year of any baby’s life let alone this little monkey.
Thanks for sharing your journey. You continue to inspire and amaze.