Friday, November 28, 2008

It is possible to nurse a 2-year-old and heft a log into the wood burning stove...

...without singeing the hair off either the child’s head or one’s knuckles. You don’t notice how absurd it is (nursing while multi-tasking) until your husband says Jesus, either put the kid down or let me get the pizza out of the oven. It’s easy just to keep on doing whatever works, in the eye of the storm of raising three children, but it’s time. To wean. Soon. Seeing nursing mothers with newborns is always good for bringing me abruptly into the present: my son is now a third of my body height and strong enough to maneuver the breast 360 degrees to stay attached to the nipple while in orbit.

I’m a little at a loss for how to cut him off—since I weaned the other two children when I got pregnant with their siblings. I used to call them 1,3,5,7 nights: my growling, hungry stomach woke me up precisely every two hours to eat. My doctor informed me 67% of mothers wean during pregnancy, even moms with a strong desire to breastfeed—simply because of the nutrient strain it puts on the mother’s body. I was kind of hoping this third child would be the one to just stop. On his own. But. He’s not. Interested in stopping.

The week we weaned our first child was hell—talk to my husband who had been training heavily for an important triathlon. Why now? I remember him saying, as he paced in the living room with our screaming daughter, Vineman race morning approaching. Because I can’t take it any more, I had said, hands on my belly, where the new baby rolled in his amniotic berth. We borrowed the family rocking chair, which would rock smoothly until we were sure our daughter was as on the verge of dreamland. Without fail, from somewhere deep within the crotchety wood—high pitched screaks began. Our girl would wake and whimper; my husband would launch into another round of All the pretty little horses while contorting his back to find the least noisiest place to perch and rock. In the morning I’d take out the Phillips screwdriver and tighten each screw.

Night after night that chair found a way to howl at the critical dropping-off-to-sleep moment. We decided it had to be the family great-great-grandmothers, with little to do in the afterlife except harass us out of our new-age attempts at weaning. Running through my head, in an oddly comforting way, was Plath’s line from Morning Song: One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral. I have so loved nursing each of my children, in turn, and that “cow-heavy” feeling of milk coming in. But I also think of the possibility of a night of uninterrupted sleep. There’s a new ridiculous line noodling its way into my head: All I want for Christmas is my two front breasts...(not that I have rear breasts). That I know of.

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