I get to nap with you most days. It's something I've gotten used to-a necessity of working night shift again; so whether before or after working all night, we nap together. I had always been against having kids in my bed, and still am. But this nap time just works. You still know at night you sleep in your bed with no problem, but this day nap is ours. You settle right in, basking in this ritual. We cuddle up, and your little hand reaches out to me and tucks in to its familiar spot. Your little body relaxes instantly, reflexively, and I know. You may not remember, but you remember.
It has been more than a year since you last nursed, my last baby. But still you remember and know there's comfort to be found there. I do not know why it has hit me so hard lately, the ending of that chapter. Over 6 years of my life were spent breastfeeding; nurturing 4 little bodies with my own. How many hours did we spend together like that. I cannot imagine. I guess now is around the time I would be having another, only now there will be no others. I know that is for the best and have peace about the completion of our family, but still I'm sad. Surrounded by mothers at work, most of whom are navigating the newness of their relationship with a tiny nurseling, I miss it. It worked so well for me and my 4...something I do not take for granted. I've seen and helped so many struggling to make it work. I've seen the grief and defeat when they couldn't. I was always thankful that it came so easily and naturally for us.
I have always been for public breastfeeding. Not to make a statement, or a spectacle, but simply for the naturality of it. Feeding your baby when they are hungry. I've never been one to utilize public breastfeeding to gain attention or prove a point. That is not what it is about for me. I had no larger motive or agenda. It was simply about the relationship between me and my child. The nurturing of them, physically and emotionally, in the way I felt was best. I never used a cover or hid, but always tried to shield a bit. Not because I was embarrassed, but out of respect for the sacredness of that relationship. I felt it too intimate to share with others. I didn't want to share it with others. It was our time. I don't criticize or judge others who've chosen a breastfeeding path more public than mine. That is their choice and they know what is right for them. Mine was much simpler. And it was perfect for us.
I'm sure it seems somewhat contradictory to share now, and maybe it is. I'm not sure why I felt so compelled to do so. I do so now simply as sharing or perhaps just documenting this part of my life that impacted me so much. Its funny to think that something that played such an integral part of my children's lives they will have no recollection of. I, however, will never forget the beauty in those moments.
Though I grieve the end of this time, I want to celebrate it as well. It's hard to believe that chapter is over, and I'm sad; but I'm more so glad it happened. I love seeing you, as your older siblings did, finding your independence. Each day you have become more a little boy, making it harder to see the baby left in you. But nearly every day, at naptime, I can see it. My baby, My last. Reaching for comfort where you know it can be found.
I will always remember. And I'm glad that somehow, in some way, at least for one more day, my littlest, you remember too.
***I wrote this post during the winter of 2015. Was not ready to share until now. Still not sure if I am ready to share, but here it is anyways. Photo credit to Jennifer Lepere Photography. So thankful for my dear friend who documented these moments for me. My Luke is now 3, these memories are more distant, but never forgotten.