Ainsley and I just enjoyed what is likely to be our last nursing session. In a few minutes I will smear my nose and cheek with $400 skin cream that, God willing, will halt the growth of squamous cells. You can't be pregnant or nursing and use this medication, so another era of motherhood passes.
I rocked her, smoothed her downy blond hair, and told her how special this time has been. She's, like, "Whatever, Mama. Hand me my pacie."
I love nursing. As I woman who has a penchant for being a Martha, but an ardent desire to be a Mary, nursing has helped me to slow down and enjoy my babies. I have been blessed with four enthusiastic nursers. I hasten to add that enthusiastic has not meant problem free. With all three boys, I faced significant and excruciatingly painful hurdles, but time, perseverance, and helpful hints from other nursing moms helped us negotiate these. Problems solved, we then went on to enjoy many, many months of peaceful nursing.
One of the boys adopted Ainsley's "whatever" attitude toward weaning. In fact he weaned so fast I was unprepared. One day I realized he hadn't nursed for two or three days. Somehow it just didn't seem right to pass through this milestone without fanfare.
"We didn't have our last nurse," I remember telling my husband. While Dave probably didn't fully understand the significance of this, at that point we had been married long enough for him to say, "You're right, honey. I think you should nurse him one last time." A wise man. So we had our ceremonial nurse. He jumped up and said, "Ooohh! Twains!" or something to that effect. Onward and upward! New vistas to explore! Big deal for me; no deal for him.
Another boy would have nursed his way into elementary school, content to find a coat closet or a corner of the teachers' lounge so he could top off during recess. Weaning was slow and about as fun as a raging case of mastitis.
I weaned John around sixteen months because I was four months pregnant with Ainsley and had yet to gain ounce number one. Considering what I ended up looking like circa forty weeks - enormous would be the word - this was probably a good thing. But I worried, so I weaned. John never looked back, and neither did I, really, because it was a little much to be growing one baby and having a toddler sprawled all over me. Some women love it. Me? Not so much.
I was supposed to start this treatment almost exactly two years ago. It was a dreary day. I was battling fatigue and finally decided to head across town for a Frappuccino to perk me up. Out of the blue I had the thought: You should take a pregnancy test. Whhhattt? I was forty-four years old. It had taken six years and a load of heartache to have John. He was still nursing! No way was I pregnant.
Except that I was.
That positive pregnancy test was possibly the biggest shock of my life. (Scratch that! Hearing my niece yell, "It's a girl!" beat the pregnancy test by a long shot.)
Still reeling from the news, I went on to a dermatology appointment and explained to my doctor why I would not be starting the treatment as planned. To put it mildly, she was not terribly impressed with my announcement. In fact I felt rather like a delinquent teenager babbling some lame explanation to a skeptical principal. Responsible women don't have surprise pregnancies. Certainly not forty-four-year-old women!
I submit that my sweet Ainsey-girl is the best surprise of my life.
My heart is a bit heavy, and my eyes welled up with tears as I read this to Dave. You know, you can care for other people's babies. You can read to them and rock them and play peek-a-boo. But, wet nurses aside, nursing is strictly a mother's domain. In all likelihood, my nursing days are now over. They have been special days indeed.
To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven. Prayers for God's grace as we embark on this next season.