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Watching My Baby

Julie Drapeau
Ottawa Ontario Canada
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 21 No. 3, May-June 2004, p. 91

At nine months old, Rodryck is a happy, healthy baby boy. He likes to put paper in his mouth, play with brooms and bang on the toilet lid. He also likes to breastfeed. Now that we've established ourselves as a breastfeeding unit, it seems odd to me that people have begun to ask when we are going to stop. I have so many feelings about this that I hardly know where to start.

At this time and on this day, I don't even know how many times he will nurse. I don't look at a clock to tell me he's hungry; I listen to his cries. Sometimes, Rodryck wants a snack, sometimes he wants a meal, sometimes something has scared him, and sometimes he just needs to feel secure as he falls asleep in my arms. Should I count the one-minute nursing that calms him down after I've put him in his snowsuit, or only the longer "going to bed at night, fill me up" nursings? There have been times when I haven't even been completely aware that I've been nursing at all; I've looked down and there he was, looking up at me with big blue eyes, soft hands patting my breast, my hand stroking his hair. How can anyone want to give up moments like that?

I don't know when we will give up this wonderful relationship. I want to keep going as long as he'll let me. When the time comes for me to go to work, I will express my milk. He'll need my milk more than ever then. I've left him a few times with a caregiver, and he inevitably gets a runny nose and a sore throat. Then he won't eat anything but my milk. How can I take that away from him?

I listen to other women in the playgroups we attend talk about how their babies won't sleep through the night. Rodryck doesn't sleep through the night either, but wakes up many times to nurse. Well, he sort of wakes up. He makes mewling sounds in his sleep to let me know that he's getting hungry. I sort of wake up, give him a nudge, he latches on, and we're both back asleep. I might not get a full night's sleep, but by sleeping together and nursing at night, I do get good sleep. I know my baby is safe, warm, and full, and that helps me sleep better, too.

When we began our breastfeeding relationship, I watched the clock to know when to feed my baby. I watched the calendar so I would be ready to wean when I went back to work. I watched the sun and the moon to know when to sleep and when to wake up. Now, I watch my baby boy grow. The rewards are his smiles, his attention, his joyful attitude, his health, and my well-being. I know that we'll have to stop nursing at some point, but it won't be until we're both ready.

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