For the past month or so, I’ve been working on weaning Vincent — he’s 2, it’s well past time. When he was born I thought he’d have been weaned many moons ago, but this last year has been full of changes, which he’s been a really good sport about, so it just wasn’t going to work to deny him his one constant comfort. I also hoped he’d wean himself, some babies do, but no, he’s interested in giving it up not at all.
So I hardened my heart and began a new ritual: every night at bedtime, we still go to his room and say good-night to Pooh & Elmo & Tigger & Doggie, and he nurses and goes to sleep. But when he climbs into our bed 4/5/6 hrs later and tugs on my shirt, whispering, “Please?” (think Earl in “Waitress”), I whisper back, “No, go to sleep,” and give him a kiss.
What follows varies, according to his level of fatigue and health. On good nights he only whines for a minute or two, before giving up, turning over, and going to sleep. But bad nights are bad. Like Monday night.
It was around 3am. Vincent’s nose has been running like a spigot, he’s developed another hacking cough, so he’s not feeling very well. Thus, when I said, “No, go to sleep,” he did not react as a tired mother would wish.
He cried loudly, kicked his feet, and when none of it worked, he got up on his hands and knees and used his head as a battering ram, giving me a nice little shiner. Then he put his hands to his own head and moaned, “Boo-boo!” Indeed.
Luckily, between my glasses & the dark circles already ringing my eyes, it’s not been noticeable, though it’s taking on a yellowish cast now. He did go to sleep, almost instantly, after giving my boo-boo a kiss, and he’s kissed it at least once every day since. But this is certainly not how I envisioned the weaning process.
I would absolutely do it all again, yes. Nursing has been not only rewarding, but very convenient: I don’t know how I would’ve been able to bring Vincent to the bookstore those first 8 months if I’d had to deal with bottles etc. in addition to everything else. We’ve been very lucky.
And let me add that on those good nights, right before he gives up and goes to sleep, he whispers, “Kiss!” whispers, “Hug!” and must have both before he turns over. Very very lucky.
As I slowly slowly detach my little barnacle boy (yes, I’ve used this in a poem), here is a poem I love by Naomi Guttman from her collection, Wet Apples, White Blood (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007), for which nursing and motherhood are driving forces:
Morning’s palest hour wakes me —
the baby takes my dripping lumen
then sleeps again.
I open the door to hear the tide.
Nothing moves, not even the rabbit
paused by the clothesline,
not the beach grass, cool in the dew.
The sky is close.
Copernicus displaced us
sending Earth adrift —
no more circles, but ellipses,
no crystal spheres,
but planets tethered to the sun.
I want to hear sky music, a concerto
made of partial light and shadow,
available to all who wake
between two stillnesses, to climb
into Orion’s outstretched arms,
lean my head against his giant shoulder,
and be lit within —
a brand new constellation
nursing the stars.