The pre-dawn light filters gray and casting shadows under the blinds and onto our floral sheets. The air is damp and I swaddle myself under the sheets. I know that my son will rise soon, and I savor the last few moments of precious time between wake and sleep.
It isn't long before I can hear him calling through our trailer-thin walls.
“Maaa. Mama. Ba Ba Maaamaaa.”
I peek at him on the monitor and see he is standing at the end of his crib, waving his stinky blue guy around wildly, a huge grin on his face. His wispy blonde strands of toddler hair poking in all directions and his red fleece jammies are bunched up on his legs.
I catch a glimpse of myself in the long mirror on my way out of our bedroom. I'm tired of course, but I look confident. No longer the look of a weary new mom. My natural brown hair tumbles down across my shoulders and I wrap a hoodie over my bare shoulders.
A small spark of adrenaline and excitement rushes through me before I go into his room. It's always my favorite time of the day. I turn the creaky handle on the old wood door and I can hear him giggling before he even sees me. His room is dark, but I can see his teeth grinning at me.
“Good morning sweetheart! I love you. I'm so happy to see you,” I always say.
He responds with “UP! UP!” while throwing his hands up in the air.
I lift his 27 pound body up into my arms. He hugs me. I ask for a kiss. He whispers “mama” quietly over and over.
I scoop my melted heart up off the floor and we pad around the corner back to the bedroom.
He immediately looks for his daddy. Upon realizing he isn't hiding under the covers, he snuggles up close to me and signs for “milk” and nods encouragingly in case I didn't understand what he wanted. I offer him my breast, but I know it's going to be one of the last mornings the milk flows freely.
He stops multiple times to look out the window. To point at the “bawwl” on the floor. To poke my nose. To look for a book.
He notices his sippy cup on our nightstand. He takes his last swallows of rich milk from my body, and with that, comes the end of our nursing relationship.
I don't cry. Rather, I smile. I'm flooded with memories. This physical and emotional journey has been full.
I am taken back to the long days and longer nights when he literally screamed and cried and fussed and refused through nearly every single nursing session.
Those mornings my committed husband hooked up tubes down my breasts and used a syringe to pump milk into our son's mouth.
Those days I sat on the couch, hooked up to the soft “wheet whoo” of the breast pump, taking out all of the milk my son didn't want, to freeze and donate to other mamas.
The mornings with the lactation consultant. The drives to nursing support groups.
The days in urgent care when he was a newborn, engorged and recovering, nursing him with IV's and lines crossed over our bodies.
I kept my child alive. I fed him. I gave him life. With my body! I've comforted him, cried with him, nursed him back to sleep in the wee hours of the morning.
Nursing this little boy into this toddler days is the most amazing, magical experience I've ever had. It's a true miracle that we made it this far.
I am left feeling nothing but grateful.
All of a sudden, my Ben has turned into a little boy. I watch him slide off our bed and toddle down the hallway. He turns once to flash me his dimples and laugh, encouraging me to chase him. My bare feet hit the floor and he squeals with delight.
I glance back at our bed with a heavy lump in my throat.
Tomorrow is a new day on my journey through motherhood.
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