"Mommy, can I have mama milk please?" Such a polite, simple request from Ian as we curled up together in the darkness tonight. But I told him, "No, sweetness. I'm not up for mama milk right now. Let's just snuggle."
He started to whine for just a second, but it faded to a sigh. "Oh, okay ... let's snuggle."
My son turned four last month and we're still nursing. It's a completely different relationship than those first few months. I'm not pumping. I'm not his food supply. I've been wearing underwire bras for at least a year. But every once in a while, we curl up in the recliner or he crawls into bed just before dawn and we have "mama milk."
I remember when we first started that relationship. I would time how long he spent on each side, trying to stay even. I remember the ache and weight of a delayed feeding. We started down this path under less than ideal circumstances. Our first moments as a mother and child were in a rolling office chair next to his plastic bassinet in the "special care nursery" of Norfolk General Hospital. There was no lactation consultant, just rotations of nurses trying to offer suggestions and supportive smiles.
We made it through and I feel incredibly lucky that it went so well for us. Ian never even had solid food until he was 10 months old. No thrush. No blocked ducts. No cracked nipples. No dwindling supply. No hooter hiders. No disgusting public restrooms. I only ever had one person be ugly to us and all the other people at the hockey game rallied for us, including the police, the AHL team staff and the rink attendants. Our nursing relationship has been blessed.
But for all those blessings, I have struggled lately with hormones. Since Ian was born, I've been on the "mini pill" versus my usual combined birth control pill and lately I've been missing the estrogen. I feel off for two weeks each month. My blood sugars go haywire for a full week before my period as well as the week of. I am the second most patient person on the planet (Mom is the most patient) and I can feel myself getting irritable with Rich, Ian, co-workers, the dogs, drivers who don't use turn signals, and Republicans. All those frustrations are not measuring up to five minutes worth of mama milk every three days or so.
I called last week and requested a new prescription (or to go back to my old prescription). I took my first pill yesterday. I don't necessarily feel very different today, but we're slowly closing the door on that phase of our relationship. It hasn't been a secret relationship and neither Ian nor I have any shame. Again, for that I feel incredibly lucky. But as my doula says, it's a relationship and it has to work for both parties to be a success. This next phase - the snuggling phase - seems to be pretty great so far.