Warning: this post is about breasts and milk and contains the word 'poop.'
Emmeline had her first real solid food meal on her six month birthday.
I pushed solids earlier with my first two because I was desperate to get them to sleep longer at night. I went through the same desperation with Emmeline at 4.5 months……but read some studies that suggested that feeding solids doesn’t really help babies sleep longer (which had been my experience with my other kids) so I decided to hold off. I also read somewhere on that World Wide Web that your babies first solid food is the “first step towards weaning”. Something about looking at it that way made me a little nostalgic. I don’t want this little one to grow any older, to crawl, to walk to wean.
I love nursing and I feel profoundly grateful that it has worked out so easily for me with all three of my kids. I love how it compels me to sit still for a few moments. To drink in the way my baby’s dark eyelashes look on her chubby cheeks, to hear her breathing, to notice her movements,to pick at her head and skin and ears (gross, I know, but admit it, you love it too), to see her go from agitation, almost panic, to total peace and contentment.
I love the excuse it gives me to leave any situation (temper tantrum, dinner party) and go and sit in a dark room for a few minutes (and really, it’s only a few minutes….my kids have all nursed super fast…which means I can run away from my kids to nurse without too much worry about what they’ll get into). My milk comes in and a wave of relaxation washes over me. Her rhythmic breathing steadies my thoughts. I can see clearly for a minute. I can emerge with a better handle on things….more grace at the party, more perspective with the kids.
Emmeilne has been my worst nurser (a tiny mouth, a bad latch, constant exchanges of thrush) but, ironically, I have enjoyed nursing her more than the others. Maybe it’s that I see the whole round….it’s really just minutes before they’re throwing tantrums, writing their names, riding their bikes, skipping off to a play date.
My mother in law gave me this book for mother’s day. It has a lot of great essays on motherhood but my favorite part is the poems. I really love poetry. It’s poignant, it makes you think, it paints life, it captures feelings that you don’t know exist until you read about them in a powerful poetic construction. Here’s one of the poems from the book:
Blood and Milk
by Sharlee Mullins Glenn
I dreamed of Oxford . . .
(spires, a thousand spires, endless lectures, musty halls
a solitary self in a Bodleian expanse
A good life my dear Wormwood. An orderly life.)
then awakened to laundry
and things to be wiped
countertops, noses, bottoms)
How did this happen? And when, exactly?
Time flows, it flows, it flows
and there are choices to be made:
left or right?
paper or plastic?
blood or milk?
There's freedom in the bleeding;
bondage in the milk—do not be deceived.
Ah, but it's an empty freedom; a holy bondage,
A sweet and holy bondage.
Five times I chose the chains, those tender chains,
(though once will bind you just as well!)
and checked the crimson flow.
Suckled while dreaming of Trinity Term
but awakened, always awakened, to the laundry
and to that small and cherished captor at my breast.
Emmeline ate a meal of avocados and a few black beans on May 9th (I'm trying to make it through her first year without Gerber....but that's another post.). Her face was suddenly smeared in green and her eyes were swimming with curiosity and delight in this new found earthy indulgence. She was hooked from the first bite. Now she can’t get enough. She’s eating EVERYTHING. I've said goodbye to my clean, buttery smelling baby. Her clothes and face are constantly stained and smeared. Her poop is stinky. She still likes to nurse…but doesn’t do it with the same “you’re all I’ve got” intensity as she did before. It’s good. Independence is good. I have more freedom and more sleep. She’s discovering the joy of FOOD.
But, there is something kind of heart breaking to think that she has taken that first-never-turn-back step towards weaning. Next thing I know, she’ll be filling out college applications.
One day I’ll miss this “milk bondage” and I think I’ll even long to have a little "captor at my breast."