This morning was a battle of the wills. Abby’s versus my own. And, she doesn’t just resemble me in feature. Apparently, she also inherited my “determination,” shall we say, to interject one’s own opinions and preferences into situations.
This morning, the fight revolved around breastfeeding…or the lack thereof. You see, I’m ready to begin weaning her of daytime feedings. Today, I finally began to tell her that “the boobs don’t work” during the day. Only when she first wakes up and before bedtime. Well, she didn’t take too kindly to that announcement (in all fairness, I’ve been SAYING things like this for a while now…just not enforcing. Normally, she cries, my body and heart respond, and we nurse.).
By the end of the morning today, however, it was rather clear that Abby has instituted a hunger strike, as she is also refusing most solid foods and other beverages. Only 16 months and feisty. If she can’t nurse, then she is going to make a statement. I see myself so clearly in her personality sometimes…
Anyway, don’t let this update fool you. Abby is usually a delight. She has a tender heart and loves to fold her hands and pray to Jesus. She prattles on and on during the day and keeps David and I running with her daredevil exploits. She is finally sleeping through the night 75% of the time and has become more and more attached to “Bear” and “Wubby” – her favorite stuffed animal and pacifier. (More on all these developments when I finally get around to writing a 16-month blog update.)
Today, however, my calm was hard to maintain. I feel selfish for weaning. Selfish for refusing her the one thing that will instantly cure her mood. But, my body needs a rest. Physically, it has been a rough couple of years with several rounds of IVF and IVF drugs, a high risk pregnancy, and then 16 months of little sleep and a lot of breastfeeding. I’m beginning to sense my own limits. I sometimes begrudge the energy that is drained by nursing. I don’t recover as quickly from long hours as a birth doula. I’m fighting migraines. It’s time to give my body a season to restore. And, yet, I know there is an emotional tie that I’m severing or, perhaps better said, a method of emotional connection that I’m losing with my active toddler when she is officially weaned. She loves to briefly hug and kiss, but then she is off to the next task, the next adventure, the next mess. She doesn’t cuddle. She won’t snuggle in bed with David and me. Nursing has been one of the only times that she lets me rock her and sing to her and run my fingers through her hair.
I will miss these times. This excuse. These moments when she is my baby rather than my on-the-go little girl.
Now, I know that eventually we will be able to snuggle and cuddle and lounge in bed with a movie. She will probably always love her hair played with (I know that I DO!). But, for now, I grieve the loss of what I have known with her. I grieve the last times that my body literally sustains hers. I find myself unexpectedly crying while writing these words…
There will be no denying that she is no longer a baby. My miracle baby. The baby I wasn’t sure that I would ever conceive, and then the baby that arrived early at a mere 4 pounds, 12 ounces with IUGR, but perfectly healthy and fully developed.
This afternoon, David put Abby down for a nap, because I couldn’t rock her and simultaneously refuse to nurse. Friends, my resolve had all but dissipated. Instead, I forced myself to make lunch and then do yoga. I don’t often find myself holding stretching poses, but just occasionally that form of exercise is one of the only things that calms my racing mind. (It’s not like I was going to go for a run on this HOT August day.) To compound matters, David and I are anxiously waiting to hear back on a potential job offer. This job could keep us in Denver or send us just about anywhere in the U.S. next May. This job could give us a small sense of security and end the job hunt or, on the other hand, bad news could send David job hunting again this Fall. To say that we are tightly wound right now would be an understatement.
So, I let myself get lost in the pain of holding a crescent pose position and then the challenge of launching from there into a precarious warrior 3, balancing on one leg. (I’m sure this all sounds more graceful than it looked.) As my quads began to burn, I heard the YouTube instructor remind her students that “balance is found by focusing on a central spot that doesn’t move.”
A central spot. A foundation that doesn’t move. A focal point of sorts. A source of balance.
I felt my muscles and heart release. My balance is not found in knowing all of the answers. My balance is not found in easily transitioning into a new phase of motherhood. My balance is not found in David’s upcoming job offer. Or our next home. Or even where that job offer requires our next home to be located.
My balance is found in focusing on the truths that I know for certain. The Savior that I cling to as my Rock. The surrender that He has taught me through the brutally hard years and the gloriously redeeming ones.
Forgive me if I seem a bit distant and disconnected these days. My introverted self can’t take much more than my roles of wife and mama, my calling as a doula, and my appreciation for a small circle of friends that apparently love me no matter what.
Perhaps you too need to find balance today by clinging to the Rock that doesn’t move. Let your heart and your muscles quake, but find rest in focusing on the God that doesn’t change. The God that wove a story of love and redemption through the Old Testament and laid out the climax with His gift of forgiveness and grace in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Call me old-fashioned or traditional. Call me outdated or religious. But, call me transparent. I can’t imagine surviving these past years without the supernatural peace that God’s presence so powerfully wrapped me in while I was grieving miscarriages and regularly feeling like a sojourner in a strange land. Now more than ever, I know that I may fail, but that my Redeemer never does.
I hope you know me well enough to know that some of my dearest friends disagree with me on these points. However, in my life, relationships are like magic. We don’t always to see eye-to-eye, but my friends always agree to hold one another up during the hard times, laugh during the good times, drink together during the ever-so-stressful times, and always make time for shared conversation and cups of coffee. I am a blessed woman in the midst of the community that has embraced me.
For now, that is all. I will emerge from August and write more in September. Abby’s 16-month-update will most likely merge with her 17-month-update. Photos flow through Instagram, and that’s my saving grace when it comes to writing down memories. But, please don’t ever see me or photos of Abby and think that I have it all together. Folks, I barely function without at least one cup of coffee and some well-placed concealer and mascara. I’ve a new love for the occasional Bourbon splurge. And, I eat way more carbs than any other food group right now.
But, today, let’s remember our focal points and find focus amidst whatever seeks to keep us off balance. Let’s quake and burn and stretch and grow. Let’s give grace and find joy in seasons in which we shine and in seasons that send us to our knees. Let us love one another and love our Savior. For these are the greatest gifts of all.
It’s amazing how quickly our little ones transition from babies to little people. I was more than ready to wean when the time came and yet I do mourn not breastfeeding anymore because I’m not sure if we will have any more children. Your feelings are totally normal. Try not to feel badly for doing something in order to take care of yourself. You are important too. And she is still cute as ever!!!
Thank you friend. Breastfeeding was such a struggle at the beginning that I guess I wasn’t even sure that we would make it to this point. And now we are here. And it is so much harder than I thought. Thank you so much for the encouragement, though. That means so much coming from you.
Hey friend! I think 16 months of breast feeding is AMAZING!! I’m not surprised at all to hear that your body needs a break. Your feelings are completely normal, and if you’re like me they will go away once your hormones level out after you’ve weaned. I cried for an entire week leading up to weaning Josh. I felt extremely conflicted as well as selfish (I weaned him so that we could do an embryo transfer). But after he was weaned I can’t tell you how happy I was to have my body back, and he didn’t seem to mind the transition either! Josh is stubborn too so I had to wean him cold turkey, even though I had planned to take an entire month to slowly drop feedings (I did pump as little as I could get away to avoid mastitis). I guess he’s an all or nothing kid! Hope this process goes smoothly for you! xo
Thank you. This is a tough journey, and we are traveling this week. Some of the weaning is on hold while the schedule and logistics are so crazy. I do feel selfish often and wonder why I’m doing it, so I really appreciate you sharing too. It helps to know we mamas end up in similar boats 🙂
Oh man, traveling with a toddler is hard enough without starting something new like weaning! Again– I don’t think you’re being selfish at all, especially now that Abby is old enough to just be taking a sippy cup for all of her fluids. 🙂 Hope your travels go well!
I just LOVE reading your posts. Your writing is so beautiful! And you are so honest, so real. I just love it. And I have to say, while I wouldnt say I ‘disagree’ with you, my beliefs are not aligned with yours. Yet, I envy the beautiful and comforting relationship you have with your God. It’s nothing but wonderful.
Thank you, friend. The transparency and honesty have been hard won after years of wanting to wear a masque. Honestly, I think the infertility journey was a big part of my “freedom.” Anyway, thanks for your encouragement. It means so much as always. Hugs!!!