The Boychick has been nursing a lot less in recent months. It started when I needed to put limits on when and for how long he could nurse, especially during and around my period — I kept expecting the sensations to bother me less, and for him to nurse more, at different points in my cycle, but it never happened. Each menstrual period seemed to herald another step-down in frequency, duration, and because of that, production. Which only made the sensations worse, my aversion stronger.
But still, we were hovering at 1-3x a day for the past couple months: upon waking, usually before bed, sometimes another when he needed the connection.
Thursday night: I am lying in bed with The Man and the Boychick, after a day of feasting and family, of privilege and oppression, belly pleasantly over-full, heart full just-right. I am smiling, watching my lover read to our child. My mind is contentedly cruising over the day, when it occurs to me — he didn’t nurse this morning. It is bed time, he has easy access, but is already half asleep, and hasn’t asked. If he falls asleep without nursing now, he will have gone for one full day without nursing, for the first time ever.
And he does.
Watching him sleep, my brows crease, my breath catches. My eyes feel full, my breasts don’t; neither milk nor tears fall. The Man asks if I am OK. I shrug, nod, roll over, go to sleep.
When we wake up the next day, I ask him if he wants milk. He says no, tells his dad to pick him up and take him to the front room. The Man picks him up, asks him again — he considers for a moment before exclaiming “Yeah!” and diving back in bed with me. He latches on, and I stroke his hair and examine his face, all angles and dimples yet still softly curved, and in it I see both the baby he was and the man he will probably grow in to. He smiles without unlatching, and we nurse longer than we have in weeks — a few minutes per side, him swallowing but a few times in the whole session when just two short years ago, forever ago, he would have gulped twice for every breath.
I lose myself in him, in us, in this moment. I hurry to etch it into my memory, promise myself I will never forget, knowing even as I promise that the lines will blur, the image fade, and soon it will be impossible to look at him and see this not-baby not-child, just as I have forgotten the exact shape of his younger face.
He nursed again yesterday morning, this morning not. No evenings at all, and so perhaps this will be another day without nursing. Maybe we have nursed for the last time — maybe it will be months yet, though I doubt it, as much as I’d wanted to say we’d made it to three years. I likely won’t know the last time, won’t pause and study him and strain to memorize the moment like I did that morning. It will just not-happen one day, and then another, and then I will realize it is has been days, weeks, and the moment I’ll want to remember forever I will already have forgotten.
It’s not supposed to be like this, my heart cries, but this is exactly how it is supposed to be, I know. One moment, after another, each one the same as the one before: but in the small infinity of many moments pressed together, everything changes. My child grows up, my heart breaks and keeps beating, and life goes on.