Last week, my 3 year-old came down with pneumonia after dealing with a lingering cough. It slowed her down tremendously. Instead of running around the house with her big sisters, she chose to snuggle with me in my bed. We lay there together. I rubbed her hair and she just stared in my eyes and sucked her thumb. All at once, I was flooded with serious flashbacks to our nursing days.
We used to lay in bed a lot, just the two of us. The big girls would be busy playing or doing art or something while the baby and I would sneak away. I don't think I realized then how therapeutic those pauses in our day were for me. The baby needed to eat and be comforted, sure. But I think it was comforting for me, too.
I'd sit on the couch and pull her into my lap. We'd stay that way for minutes, hours, whatever. Then she'd get up to go play, and I'd go back to what I was doing.
I struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety after all three of my babies were born. Often, I'd just be going through the motions of babycaring. And while I know breastfeeding can be a source of anxiety for some mothers, it was the opposite for me. It gave me a sense of accomplishment. I may have been falling apart in all the other areas of my life, but I was good at responding to the needs of my child. I'd see their content faces and know that nursing gave me the strength I needed to cope with all the rest.
Can I admit to my husband and to my friends that I miss it badly? Am I a weirdo because I miss breastfeeding my baby?
It's been over a year since I last nursed my youngest. Looking at photos of her from that stage, she sure seemed like a baby. Now she's a kid. She eats pizza and french fries and asks for movies and recites her favorite songs and reads books to her dolls and sleeps in a full-size bed and potties in the toilet and jumps off the side of the pool and has no time for those pauses we used to frequently enjoy. Sometimes I miss the baby stage so much, I can actually feel an ache in my heart, in my gut. I wonder, can I say these things out loud? Can I admit to my husband and to my friends that I miss it badly? Am I a weirdo because I miss breastfeeding my baby?
When friends and family ask if we are planning to have more children, I usually say "No, I don't think so." Even though, deep down, I would love another baby.
But that's just it. I would love another BABY.
Not necessarily another 4-year-old, another preschool payment, another college education to pay for. Just a baby to love and snuggle and nurse and sing to and make giggle. I can't possibly be the only one.