It has been over a year since I felt like I owned my body. It is a funny thing to say since I live in it everyday, but when you carry a baby, give birth to that baby, and then nurse that baby for 12 months, you share your body. It is an amazing experience. In these moments, I felt in awe of everything that these cells could do without my conscious self dictating or driving the ship. But that is always part of it, your body just sort of takes over and the part of you that makes you you, goes for the ride. It might be a ride of a lifetime but it is quite a ride. Becoming a mother might very will be the best thing I ever do in my life. It is a daily gift and a daily reminder that things are really really good in life. And it is a reminder that no matter how much I want to control all that is around me, I can’t and even my own body is at times (probably more often than I realize) out of my control.
Today though marks the one week mark since I last nursed little Owen. With him drinking out of sippy cups and fully transitioned to other nourishment, I find myself a little bit perplexed. What do I do with this body now? How exactly do I feel post-nursing my last baby? It has been a HUGE transition and these last 7 days were really hard and really dark. Add to the transition of weaning, the flu and some marital strife and these last seven days were a bit of a misery march. I know the title of this post is deceiving but I promise I will get to those biscuits and why those cheddar biscuits are so important to this tale.
But first, let’s talk about weaning. It happens. For some the weaning process is immediate, even before a nursing relationship is able to fully establish in those first hours or days of motherhood. For others the weaning process is longer, it takes 15+ months for mom and baby to negotiate a truce over who “owns” the boob and who gets to “access” the boob. For me, both of my boys sort of “broke up” with me. Henry was earlier than Owen. At 10/11 months, Henry grew impatient waiting for my milk and much preferred to get going after chugging on his sippy. Owen, I thought would be different. He loved nursing. And I loved nursing him. I thought about how maybe this baby, this baby that I have been told was my last baby, would linger a little longer in his babyhood. Unfortunately, on his first birthday something shifted (maybe hormones or maybe my body just gave a massive sigh of relief), but I was struggling to keep up my supply almost within 24 hours. It felt dire. We had not introduced a sippy cup yet! We had not introduced milk yet! We were rushing head first to an inevitable confrontation and I felt out of control (yet again) of this body which was no longer willing or able to feed Owen. My body started to reject nursing and started to show signs of ‘weaning sickness.” I had a constant headache that was blinding, I felt nauseous, and dizzy, and feverish, and all sorts of awful. It felt like I was both PMSing and pregnant simultaneously and I spent so much money on pregnancy tests over the next few days, and crossed everything hoping that maybe just maybe there would be one more baby for us and that it wasn’t just my body throwing in the towel. David made some moves to end our reproduction future and all of this was too much for me. I was ready to crawl into a big pit of pity and never come out. I felt (and still do a little) that everyone was against me. David was done having babies, Owen was done nursing, my body was done making milk & having babies, and the identity I had crafted and lived in comfortably for 3 years was shifted against my will and I was told to just: deal with it.
Then, the flu hit and our nursing days were truly done. I could not get out of bed, I could not feed Owen. Of course, like it was NO BIG DEAL Owen just drank milk from a cup! It is funny how I made myself sick with worry about how would this child eat and without blinking an eye he just transitioned. He resiliently said “okay,” while I rolled in bed sobbing my eyes out because I was sick from weaning, and sick from the flu, and sick in my heart because too much was happening all at once. Things still feel fragile 7 days later. Owen and Henry are just going about their days as usual, drinking milk like a boss and playing endlessly. But, I still feel a little removed from it all. Surely, I am not alone in the struggle with transitions and I know this story is not unique, yet it is affecting me right now and I am hoping with some more time I will continue to reconcile myself to some BIG changes: I am done having babies, I am done nursing babies, I am done weaning babies, and I am done sharing my body. And while all those things will inevitably happen, it feels so weird actually saying it, seeing it, and living it. I wonder if even ten years from now, I will still ache for this chapter in my life.
So here come the cheddar biscuits. In sharing and giving so much of my cellular essence to someone else and everyone else, I forgot that there are things I like to do with my time but could not do for a long time because I was too tired or busy or overwhelmed or involved in the chapter I am now closing. Like cooking and I mean really cooking from scratch with complicated recipes with lots of ingredients and multiple steps. And yes it will probably be two steps forward and a step back as I figure out these new steps as a mother to two boys who will continue to grow up and potentially grow away from their mama, but there are great things we can do together as they grow up, and as their immediate baby needs shift and change to new horizons, interests, and abilities. And while we all grow into this family dynamic, I know now that I can also bake a pretty delicious cheddar biscuit from scratch. Not the most complicated recipe, but you got to start somewhere. Anyway, I am working on it. I wish there was a script we could follow when adulting gets hard. I wish there was a pause button I could hit so I could just sit a little longer in this moment so that my heart can catch up to the reality it is now living in. It would be so much easier that way. At least the cheddar biscuits tasted good.