For You, 10 months Old
As I lie here nursing you back to sleep in the middle of your nap, I turn on the light for a quick photo, and get this little slice of your face, of this moment, in summer, in lamplight.
I am tired. I say this a lot lately. You wake frequently at night to nurse, and sometimes (like last night), you woke up to nurse and then just sat up for a while, wide awake. You don’t know what time it is. I try to talk you into more sleep, I play dead, I offer the breast again. But you exist in a realm different than ours. 10 months out and your nights are still a little disorganized, though there are nights that you shock me with deep, long stretches of mature sleep.
There is so much going on with you, every day, every night. You are alive in every fiber of your being. Much of your time lately is spent standing on your feet, figuring out how to propel yourself forward, sometimes taking steps, sometimes lunging or jumping forward. The drive to walk is strong in you now. So is the drive to talk, to communicate. I watch you observing us talking, especially your dad and big brother, who are loud and animated. Sometimes you imitate their words or sounds. You watch their hands as they talk, and imitate their gestures — clapping, pointing, waving.
And through all these changes, especially as you learn to walk, you cling to me more than ever. For many months, your mind was so busy taking in the world around you that you preferred to nurse in the dark, at home, in bed, and it was very difficult to nurse you when we were out, even if you were hungry — you were always so distracted. Sometimes I was concerned at how poorly you nursed when we were away from home, though I knew it was a normal phase. Lately, as you are moving away from me with your body, you are checking in with me more frequently than ever through nursing, crawling into my lap several times an hour sometimes, even when we’re out. Your stranger anxiety is heightened lately and you find solace in my arms. You need to go back to the original source. You need to turn your face away from the world for a moment. Nursing fulfills all these needs. How different nursing is now than it was just a few months ago.
Sometimes your nursing frequency seems unreal. He wants to nurse again, I think? But when I am in a good place, when I can think rationally, I realize each time I sit down to nurse with you, I am getting a break from the hustle and bustle of our lives. It’s almost as if this is part of the biology of breastfeeding a mobile baby, an almost-toddler — the uptake in nursing frequency is a built-in break for the busy mother. If I can be Zen about it all, I enjoy sitting there in the middle of our lives, you pulling on the moles near my shoulder, my bra-strap. I can inhale your sun-stroked hair, now blonde and wispy.
Sometimes I look at you and want to cry. It sounds corny, sentimental. It is. It’s crazy to me how quickly this year is going, the first year of your life. I feel privileged to witness it, this brief time of your babyhood, with all its beauty, wonder, endless needs, endless nights, those big blue eyes taking in the world for the first time. Thank you. Thank you for letting me be here with you, bleary-eyed with love.