She has always needed to blaze her own trail. Literally. One day I’ll tell you how I spent a whole night in labor. Morning came and the friendly nurse said, “ready to push?” And then she said, “uh-oh, hang on, I feel a butt, not a head – someone call the doctor??!!” And that’s when I found out that my first daughter’s bum was so bony that it had felt through all those lovely physical examinations just like a head, but of course it wasn’t a head. She was fully descended and fully breech and I had the first surgical experience of my life so she could come out via emergency c-section, because this kid, well, everybody comes out the vaginal canal and she just wasn’t going to do it like everybody else does it.
That’s the Tale of E. Just like On the Night You Were Born, but with scalpels!
So babies are supposed to flip head down before taking the exit ramp, and babies are supposed to love to nurse. Flaunter of Authority looked at her checklist of instructions and said, no thanks and I said NO THANKS! She nursed less and less each day until one day she turned her head like an owl 360° around and away from my exposed flesh and screamed.
I got the message. She got 10 weeks.
And the Similac gods smiled their countenance down upon us.
In so many ways I know the Role of the Second Child is: redeemer. We’re less tentative, she’s more accepting. But that’s also an oversimplification of terms, because while I’m sure First Child’s personality is in part a response to our missteps or early lack of confidence, to a large degree it’s innate. And Second Child has benefited from our easy confidence, but also deserves credit for simply being more go-with-the-flow. They each got some of both of us, but E is mostly me and L is a little more her daddy.
And L nursed. Oh, the Similac deities favored her, too, and she had plenty of scientifically-lab-formulated goodness enter and exit her system. But she always loved to come home to Mama.
This baby, though: she’s this close to 13 months old. She has somewhere between 9 and 11 teeth (she doesn’t share my obsessive need to have an exact count and gets a little chompy when I try to conduct an unauthorized inspection). She’s made friends with whole milk. She doesn't rely on my liquid or any liquid for nutrition any longer. She calls me Mama.
I had a horrible night tonight. M was at a meeting, and I couldn't get L to sleep. Just as she crossed the one-year mark, the arbitrary deadline when so many families say We Did It! this little girl decided that weaning is for chumps. Where until recently I could nurse her to sleep, tonight she kept herself awake to continue nursing. I watched her force her eyes open. I watched her fall asleep and realize she'd detached, and wake back up. It's a snack now, a treat. The roles of nutrition and bonding have been pushed low on the priority list by the girl, and were replaced by This is a Fun Game! and Ooh! More Snack! and Successful Complete Mommy Attention Domination!
The child that M can get to sleep most nights with a bottle by 7:45 finally went to sleep at 9:05 tonight. And then I still had to get her big sister to bed.
And in the twin categories of Testing My Sanity and Testing My Patience, M has another meeting tomorrow night. And he'll be out of town for two nights next week.
Does she need breastmilk anymore? No. Is every drop she gets still beneficial to her? Of course it is. Plus, she loves it. It brings a calm over her like nothing else can. She smiles. She gulps. She rubs my skin appreciatively. She makes herself at home on the outside of my body, my bicep as a pillow, my thigh as an ottoman, as she once made herself at home on the inside.
But she really, really loves it.
But then I thought: First Child really, really loves gummy bears. But would we give her a gummy bear any time she asked for it?
I think I’m just MamaCandy, now, and I think it’s getting to be time to stop feeding the junkie.