It’s been a challenging week for me. I’m craving prolactin—doesn’t that stuff come in a bottle?—and I’m really missing my cozy time with Zoë and the way nursing calmed her.
All of this (plus the health scare I had a couple of weeks ago) has made me very tense. I developed these ridiculous knots in my back last week, knots so tight that my arms began to tingle and my chest felt heavy. But instead of realizing the tingling was a result of this tension, I became convinced that I had a serious underlying health issue. (This is what happens when you combine an active imagination and a worrying nature with hypochondriac tendencies.)
So I spent a week brooding and worrying and feeling generally low. I sat and stared at my computer, working over the same sentence again and again, struggling with the silliest of words.
Yesterday, D said, “Go get a massage. Today. Now.”
I love massages. I do. But they seem like such a luxury, an expense that I hardly ever justify. But yesterday it was either try a massage or go to urgent care toting my Internet-procured list of possible causes for my symptoms. I decided on the massage, partly because I figured it would be less expensive than urgent care. I got a last-minute appointment at a salon near my dad’s house, dropped Zoë off with grandpa, and splurged.
But it turns out that sometimes a splurge is not a splurge at all. This woman was fabulous, and the massage was painful, but afterward, there was no tingling in my arms and no heaviness in my chest.
Then last night, I was checking my website for messages, and there was a note from another mother writer, the wonderful Erin White of Hatched by Two Chicks. (Erin’s lovely essay “East Wind” was in Creative Nonfiction a few years ago, but I didn’t realize she was a mother-writer and blogger until last night!)
This is what Erin said:
“There is nothing quite like the end of the nursing relationship, especially with a toddler. I weaned my first right before her second b-day and the process knocked the two of us off our feet. But we got back up again, much faster than I might have expected, and then we got going on the task of figuring out new and amazing ways of connecting to each other and to our own worlds. My second (who I think was born the same day as your second!!) weaned herself at 11 months and I will always be grateful to her for that. I got my energy, my body, my work, and--dare I say--my chi, back in the most amazing way. Nursing is heaven and weaning is freedom. For mamas and for babies. I tend to see nursing and the decision to stop as really great practice for making later decisions about ourselves in relation to our children. And as the mothers of daughters (I have two, as well) I think its so so important for us to get really good at valuing our bodies and our independence while at the same time staying really connected to our kids.”
I love that. After all, parenthood requires constant practice in letting-go. And we must continually navigate our shifting and growing relationships with our children.
Zoë and I will be fine, eventually. We’re in the midst of figuring out new ways to connect. Yesterday, she had trouble falling asleep at nap time. We battled it out for a bit, and then I just went and got her from her crib, and she fell asleep in my arms, like an infant, her face pressed into my neck. The same thing happened again this afternoon. So for now I’ll just I hold her tight, listen to her steady breath on my neck, and rest my cheek against her temple.