I am ready to quit.
Not really, but maybe. This coming six months after Cooper’s birth when she came out rooting, latching easily and drinking full.
So many sweet moments—the soft sighs and swallows, the palm of a tiny hand on my collarbone. The only time she felt closer to me was the womb, where she lay curled inside me like a leaf, waiting to unfurl in the light.
I’ve been glad to feed my children myself. To have the ability, the functionality. It is not a given, and I have been grateful for this time with each child. A quiet room, eyelashes resting on cheeks, the smell of soft baby skin—a sweet and private time soon outgrown.
And yet…lately the sweetness feels sometimes like burden. The tether of love heavy and tight. My nights seem to have grown shorter, sleep interrupted by her cries. Teething? Hunger? Loneliness? The why matters little at 4am.
They say the hard part is the beginning: the frequency, the lack of sleep, the rawness of skin. The first weeks pass in a kind of fog, whether breastfeeding or warming bottles, I imagine. Days, nights, days, nights. Tiny mouths, always wide open and waiting to be filled.
But now, limbs grown wild and fingernails scratching my lips and cheeks, fist yanking at my skin—sometimes this peaceful time is a battle. Easier, yes, because it is routine. Harder because we are both growing and in some ways, growing away from one another as the tether wears thin. Soon she will move to food that does not come from me, and my body will reset itself again, as is the way of nature.
A miracle, this: the life itself, the connection between parent and child. Umbilical cord not as strong as the invisible tie between parent and child by blood, by love, or by both. Faster than I could even imagine, she will ever be separating from me, growing apart. The leaving of my body the beginning of her momentum away.
I will not quit, nor do I wish her movement away to be so quick. And yet maybe some time would do me well. A night, even, with less waking. A morning that comes a little later. A few more hours stretch of a nap perhaps.
Even as I get my wish for space, my very skin longs to touch hers. My breasts swell in anticipation. Our connection is for now and it is for always. Though not physical for many more months, it will always hurt in some small or large way, my love so bound up in another being. This love will teach me better to die to vanity, to myself. To give of myself until there is pain and longing for release, and still to give.
I will go to sleep this night, knowing I will wake to the sound of her cries. I will relish them, even as I am weary, knowing that the days come ever quickly when she will cry, but no longer for me.