Bee has a fever.
F*ck, I hate when she has a fever.
I can handle a runny nose, since that seems to be happening all the time now that she’s in daycare with 14 other munchkin germ farms. Cute munchkin germ farms, mind you.
But a fever – when she goes limp and squinty-eyed and downward-mouthed and red-cheeked and clingy as all get-out – it kills me. It sends my Mama instincts into overdrive, the need to protect and nourish and hydrate her as much as possible becomes Priority #1, along with keeping her comfortable and feeling loved and safe.
She hasn’t been sick like this in a long time, not for months and months. I can’t even seem to remember when the last time was, actually. And today, when we were snuggling in the glider in her room, I was suddenly struck with how different this time is from the last, whenever it was, because of one simple thing:
Back then, I would nurse her when she was sick. Back then, however long ago, we’d hide under the covers from the world and I would nurse her and she would breathe deeply into my skin and I would do the same with the top of her lovely little head, and it would be our own spot of heaven on earth while I literally nursed her back to health.
But… guys. I can’t do that now. I can’t nurse her this time.
Because, you see, we’ve weaned.
Somewhere along the way, over the last couple of months, I weaned Bee. Or, she weaned me? We weaned together, I guess.
And I’m not even exactly sure how it even happened! I wish I could give you the Top Five Tips on how I/we did it, but… I can’t.
One day a while ago I woke up, Bee woke up, and she had her last nursing session, and that was it. We both decided, without words, that she was finished. That I was finished. And I can’t even say when that was.
Which, when I think of it that way, breaks my heart. It was such a huge part of our bonding and loving each other for all that time, from the minute she was born, and now it’s just, over.
Of course, I’ve known since after those first few days and weeks that we’d weaned. I’ve been aware of the fact that Bee no longer needs to nurse herself to sleep or when she wakes up, or after we get back from school, which was actually the last “session” to go.
I’ve known that that phase was over. That it was finished. Gone.
But until tonight, with a sick Li’l Bee in my arms, during a time when in the past I would always nurse her, I hadn’t realized what it actually meant, and how it actually felt to really be done with nursing my child.
A year and a half, guys. I nursed Bee for a year and a half.
I nursed her into toddlerhood – which, I know a lot of you who did nurse or are still nursing your babies well beyond the 18-month mark are saying isn’t a big deal at all.
And it isn’t, I know that.
But still, it’s something I never ever in my life thought I would ever do EVER! Nurse a toddler??! NEVER!
Especially back as a young 20-something, seeing Mamas all around the world, different shapes and colours and languages, nursing their wee ones in every situation and at every age you can imagine, I never thought I would be “one of them”!
Now though… now, having done it for as long as I did, and looking back, still experiencing the occasional phantom letdown, I know it is the most natural thing in the entire world, and I am so proud that I was able to do that for her for as long as I did.
And I will always thank God that I was lucky enough to do it. I know quite a few women who weren’t/aren’t able to breastfeed as easily as I did. So I consider myself extremely lucky – it was something I desperately wanted to do, to provide that for my baby, and thankfully wound up having no problems with it at all.
It’s just… I did not think it would go on for as long as it did.
And I reaaaaallyreallytrulyHONESTLY didn’t expect to still be nursing when I got pregnant again! “Can that even happen??”
Um, yes. Clearly, it can.
It didn’t come without its complaints though, breastfeeding all this time. I talked about weaning her for ages and ages, but never really got serious about it because deep down – and also, not so deep down – I loved it.
It just kept feeling so incredibly natural, an extension of the both of us, the whole process, the entire crescendo and inevitable decrescendo. Especially towards the end….
It’s over now, guys.
I successfully nursed my daughter to toddlerhood, and weaned her as easily as it started.
And thinking about it, seeing it all in perspective, looking back at all those times with Bee wrapped in my arms and snuggling close and being quiet and singing softly and feeling the holiness of the dark… I feel so sad. So wistful.
I feel like we’ve taken a huge step together, to a whole other, yes, amazing level. But it’s still another level away from her being my baby – my first born baby girl, all 6 lbs 2oz of her, with a head full of hair and the world at her feet.
My precocious, hilarious, expressive baby girl is slowly but surely turning into just that: a girl. A little girl now, who is every day closer and closer to her independence from me.
Yes, it’s a looOOOng way off, I know. Yet, the way time slips through your fingers when you become a parent, I also know that it’ll be here before I have a chance to build a time machine to take me back to those early days, when it was all so new.
I’m going to be there again in no time with Baby #2, in that fresh stage – it will no doubt be as amazing as it was with Bee. I will surely have all the same crazy emotions, the same ups and downs.
And I will also, if I’m lucky, be able to nurse him/her as easily as I did the first time, so those phantom letdowns can turn into actual letdowns, and the journey will begin again.
But for now, as my sick child sleeps in my arms, I will sing to her and smell her heavenly head, and let my ways of soothing her evolve as they should.