It's been more than three days since you nursed. I fed you Saturday morning, cuddling extra close, knowing that it was probably our last morning session. I was afraid you would be devastated, and though there have been a few rough moments, you have been mostly fine. I guess it really was the right time for us.
Dear boy, I have truly treasured feeding you. I loved our cuddly mornings. I loved watching you drift to sleep at night against my chest. I loved that when you were sad, you wanted me. I loved the way you looked to me every few hours. I loved the quiet moments we had, just the two of us. And oh how I loved your little hand. The hand that would stroke my chest...reach for my hair...play with my shirt...grab a necklace if I dared wear one. That precious baby hand, still so plump and dimpled. Still figuring out how to accomplish its goal. Watching that hand throughout your whole first year was probably my favorite part of nursing you.
I remember being pregnant with the twins. The thought of breastfeeding honestly freaked me out quite a bit, but I knew I wanted to do it. Then they came early and spent weeks in the NICU on the bottle, and despite our best efforts, never figured out the whole nursing deal. Then I was pregnant with Shepherd, my full-term singleton, who I just knew would be a breastfeeding champ. But somehow, despite all the help we could find, he and I could never get it right. It just didn't work. Then came you. After pumping for all of your siblings, I decided to lower my expectations for nursing. Yes, I wanted it to work, but I had three healthy, attached children that never nursed. If it didn't work, it would be fine....but oh how I hoped. The day you were born you had no interest in the boob. None. Zero. Then, after landing in the NICU, you started eating via bottle, and I saw my hopes of nursing my final little one drift away. But on day seven we brought you home, and on day eight you latched like a champ. We gradually shifted away from the bottles, and we never really looked back.
When I pumped, I was constantly counting down to the next milestone, willing myself to make it as long as possible, so I expected to feel the same way this time. But it was so different. We found our groove. You loved nursing, I loved feeding you, and the months ticked by. I wanted to make it to six months, but then suddenly we were staring down your first birthday. One year. One whole year of mom's milk. When we started this journey, one year was my secret goal, the goal I only whispered quietly to myself in the dark. And now we made it to that dream goal, my little love. I am so thankful for you, so grateful for all your dad did to help us, and so honored to have nourished you this long.
Sometimes I have trouble understanding the Gospel...how God could redeem mankind by sending a tiny baby. Being my child, I have a feeling this is something you will grapple with as well. Here's the thing, Ellis. God hears our questions...He anticipates our need to be reminded of His goodness. For our sake, He rewrites His story all over creation. How can a little baby bring redemption? How can God move through something so small and seemingly powerless? I'm not sure how it all works in the big picture, but I can tell you this for certain--four times now, I have experienced true redemption come in the form of a tiny baby. Redemption that was so needed, even if I didn't realize it before finding it. When Barnes and Frances were born, they brought healing and redemption to my soul, which had been deeply damaged by the loss of our first three babies. They made me a mom. Then Shepherd came along, with a picture perfect birth story, redeeming the inadequacy I held regarding the twins' early and difficult birth. And then you, Ellis. You came to our family and gave me another missing piece, the opportunity to nurse my baby, redeeming a deep desire and feeling of failure. You came and showed me that it had never been my fault before, something I so desperately needed to know.
I love you, little one. And I have loved feeding you. Thank you for this precious experience.