I want to stop but I don’t know how. One more time becomes one more day. Another day becomes another week and I’m no closer to quitting than I was months ago. Dan is patient with me, reserving judgment or comment. But we both know I need to end it, sooner rather than later.
Nursing Sweet Pea, that is. See, I haven’t had my period since before I got pregnant with her and we want another baby. My husband and I do, anyway. I can’t speak for our toddler, but based on the uncanny timing of her occasional middle of the night crying, and her propensity to stir early from her Sunday afternoon naps, I would have to guess she doesn’t want another baby in the family.
Also, our toddler would buy exclusive rights to my breasts and make them sign a non-compete clause if only I’d let her get her hands my iPhone to contact her lawyer. Just around the age that most of my friends told me their children lost interest in nursing, my daughter figured out how to lift up my shirt and reach down my neckline (sometimes at the same time) to get to her buried treasure.
“No we’re not nursing now.”
It’s hard for her to hear me over her high pitched whining, which is ramping up to full blown crying.
“Now is not the time for that.”
I’m not sure why I bother with words. Her face is turning red. Her long eyelashes are slick with tears. Her mouth is open wide, taking up a full three quarters of her face. I sneak a glimpse to see which of her top teeth are coming in as she arches her back. She is silent for a few beats, sucking up most of the air in our kitchen. Finally, she exhales.
“MAMA! MAMA! MOMMY! MAMAMAMAMAMAMA!!!”
I stay strong.
“No honey. Now is not the time for nursing.”
I scoop her up into my lap. This could either show her how much I really do care, or totally backfire by giving her access to my nipples. She reaches under my shirt, wends her little arm inside my bra and fingers my nipple in a way that is not rough but not gentle either. Mostly, it is annoying. I curse my decision to wear a scoop neck top. Her sobs begin to peter out now that her demand for some mama lap time has been met. Negotiations are far from over, however.
She shakes her head. “No nuh?”
“That’s right. No nursing.”
She leans back to achieve the best angle for manipulation of my nipple in her pudgy fingers while shaking her head and proclaiming, “No nuh.”
I’m sitting at the kitchen table as my coffee grows cold while being groped by my toddler. I consider letting her nurse because afterward, I can at least drink part of my coffee while it’s still warm and complete my shopping list while she looks at her Elmo pop-up book.
Except there’s the thing about wanting another baby (which I’m less certain of with every passing day) and my AWOL period. We’re down to nursing once a day. I need to reduce the frequency, not increase it. So I distract her with a game of peek-a-boo, knowing that we’ll have our chance to nurse before her bedtime. And it won’t be because she annoyed me into it, because I’m desperate to get her to stop crying, or even because my breasts are uncomfortably full of milk.
At bedtime we nurse because it’s just what we do. She nestles into me and struggles to keep her eyes open. I think, if she could, she would tell me she’s just resting her eyes as her heavy eyelids succumb to sleepiness. I stroke the wisps of her thin blonde hair, the softness of her squishy thighs and the smoothness of her back underneath her nightgown. I look at her face and shake my head slowly wondering how in the world I got so lucky. And I wonder how in the world it will ever feel like the right time to give up our nightly ritual.