Wednesday, December 17, 2014

27 Months (Twice Over)

It's an inside joke between my husband and I.  Every time there is a task that we don't want to do - say change a diaper or clean a dirty pan that's been sitting in the sink or be the designated driver - I sing my little jingle.

27 months!

That's how long I was pregnant with our three boys.  3 x 9 (full term babies) = 27 months.  Twenty seven months of creating and living for another human being.  Of dealing with nausea and pain and blood draws and hemorrhoids and stretch marks and peeing 5 times a night.  And then somehow ejecting each of the three babies from my body.

So you want me to change some urine soaked sheets at 2am?

27 months!

And now, 27 months has new meaning.

Last night, I breastfed Colin for the very last time.  At 13 months, it was time.  I didn't want to wean, to be honest.  But for a number of reasons, I did it anyway.  I thought I was going to cry throughout the whole feeding.  After all, I sobbed with both of his two older brothers, both of whom I weaned at 7 months.

But I didn't.  Instead, I did some mental math.  7 months + 7 months + 13 months = 27 months.

Twenty seven months of pregnancy.  Twenty seven months of breastfeeding.

And now, it comes to an end.  I think the finality of it all is what kept my tears from flowing.  It was just too much - too significant.  If I had let my emotions run wild, I feared I would lose myself a bit.  I didn't really want to go that deep.  Because there will be no more pregnancies.  No more breastfeeding.  And no more babies.

A chapter is ending.

Since December of 2007, with a few months off here and there, my body has either been growing a baby, or feeding a baby.  It has been something that I alone can do for them - no husband or nanny or grandparent can take my place in that regard.  It is a unique bond that only a woman, and her baby, can understand.

That physical connection is both overwhelming and exhilarating.  Before that baby is even born, it is the mother alone that has an intimate relationship with her baby.  And maybe I'm crazy, but I really felt like I had a feel for each of my child's personalities before they were even born.  Braden was stubborn, Casey was wild, and Colin was chill.  It's all proven true.  But it is all the mother's burden to bear, as well.  I remember with each of my deliveries, staring at my husband sitting at my bedside and thinking - How is this fair?  You do this!  

By the end of each of those 9 month stints, I couldn't wait to get that baby out - for my body to be free again!  But really, if one chooses to breastfeed, you're not free.  At all.  You are tethered to that baby 24-7 whether you like it or not.  It's painful at times and it's stressful and it's all consuming in a way that nothing else in life is.  It's around the clock, and there are no breaks.  No exceptions.  And again, I remember looking at my husband, all three times, thinking - How is this fair?  You do this!

But I stuck with it.  In part for all of the health benefits, but more so because I really enjoyed it.
Loved it actually.  I loved getting a break to just sit with my child.  I loved staring at my child's face.  I loved feeling their fat little hands caress my cheek and gaze up at me.  I loved knowing that my body and my body alone could sustain them, just as I could when I was pregnant.

This is not an argument for breastfeeding over formula feeding - truly, to each their own.  Instead, it's an acknowledgement that my body, for all of its faults, did some pretty incredible things for 54 months.  And I hold onto that - particularly when I stand naked in front of the mirror and realize I hardly recognize myself.  Carrying and feeding those babies comes with a steep physical price. I'm generally okay with it (unless I find a random picture of myself in a bathing suit in my early twenties - then I cry).

Having officially weaned last night, my body is now my own again.  I can finally start that 5/2 fast diet I've been talking about.  I can have as much wine as I want, at any time of day.  I can eat tuna to my heart's content.  I can leave town without having to create a freezer stash of breast milk to leave behind.

But it leaves me a bit heartbroken.  

Life is moving too fast.  It's what everyone always said would happen, and it has.  It feels like just yesterday that I was childless and pregnant for the first time, daydreaming about what my family would ultimately be.

And now here it is - three amazing boys.  Creating them, and feeding them, has been a pretty awesome thing.



Colin.  Last night.  

The baby phase is over.

Onto the next...


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