Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Letters to Eliana

I knew it was coming, my darling.

Time began its’ steady, relentless march the moment you were laid in my arms and turned to latch on for the first time. Even then, as I looked down at your perfectly formed body, admiring your long fingernails and the thatch of hair on the back of your head, I was painfully aware of the clock ticking; the days, weeks, and months passing by.

Nursing you, my third child, was the easiest it has been yet. You latched on fiercely in the hospital, though gentler than your brothers. And in that first hour of your life, you nursed for thirty-two minutes. I know - I watched the clock gleefully! I have a picture of you, fresh from that first meal; your cheeks are rosy, your eyes happily closed.

When you reached six months old, I decided to continue nursing you exclusively, rather than starting you on baby cereal. Dr. Susie was agreeable, so I drank my tea, took Fenugreek capsules, drank water constantly, and was rewarded with plenty of milk for my growing girl.

Even when we still met once each night from nine to twelve months, through my weariness I felt joy. And when, at one year old, you had your first taste of real food, we all felt your delight, and I hid the memories from your first year away in my heart.

But today…

…I pulled you from your pink cloud of a bed and settled into the rocker. You sucked your thumb and stroked your lovey, waiting patiently for Mama to be perfectly adjusted. I leaned you back, and you turned your face...

...away.

My heart leapt into my throat as I turned your soft cheek back towards me. Then you sat up, looking at me calmly. As if to say, No, thank you, Mama. I sighed softly and pulled you into a hug. And we rose to face this day.

A day without your first sustenance coming from within me.

I watched you closely throughout the morning, to see if you were extra hungry or clingy. You were neither, blissfully unaware that your Mama was missing you. I'm sure you didn't notice the many *extra* times I snatched you from the floor and held you close. I'm sure you didn't notice that I always held you an extra few seconds to see if my scent would remind you of something...

But your Daddy is a wise man. As he comforted me this evening, he reminded me that while your need for sustenance from within my body was no more, your need for a living, breathing example of Christ, love and femininity would still - and always - come from within me. His words breathed peace.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (I Timothy 1:15-17)

I'm still your mama. And we have a long, long road to walk together before the apron strings you still cling to will be severed. Right now, my most fervent prayer is that a living, breathing example of Christ and His love, and beautiful femininity will be made in me, much the way milk to sustain your life once was. That the Father in His love will quicken godliness and wisdom to flow through the ducts of my heart and soul, and that Truth will feed you and mold your character as you grow.

May you never turn your face away from Him.

Tomorrow, when I enter your room and pull you from your bed, we'll walk straight to the closet. We'll choose a dress, giggling together in excitement. And we'll leave the room without sitting in our chair even for a moment.

If Mama squeezes a little too tight, or gets on your nerves as she follows on your heels all day long, please show her mercy. Hug her neck just as tight. And plant a kiss on her lips while you're at it.

She's preparing Life-giving sustenance for you, and she needs your understanding.

I love you, precious,
Mama

30 fellow travelers shared:

Jen said...

again beautifully written
you breastfed her for a longtime that is something to be very proud of
and probably feeding her exclusively for a year benefited her health wise a lot
You are her mama and you always will be even when shes all grown up and left home (it will be different then but you will still be her mama)
hugs

Stacy said...

Elise,
I was teary throughout this entire email. This was so difficult for me with both of mine. I remember with Isaac- the day he stopped nursing I kept offering my breast to him again, "Sweetie, remember? This is what we do?" And it was as if he didn't. Remember. Oh, how my heart ached. I cried many tears in the bathtub that night, I recall. Isn't it a beautiful thing? All those sweet, cuddly, bonding hours of breastfeeding? I will pray for your heart, sweet mama of growing-up Eliana. Especially tomorrow morning.
~Stacy

Stacy said...

Whoops. I wrote "email". But I meant "post". Well, you know what I meant but I had to correct myself anyway.
~Stacy

Wendy WaterBirde said...

Reading this, and with that music in the backround too...geesh are you trying to just drown us with tears Elise, lol

I've never breastfed becuase ive never been a mother. But its been deeply moving just bottle feeding my little brothers growing up and such, that LOOK in their eyes as you are feeding them, it makes you want to cry. So i cant even imagine how much more intense that must be breastfeeding. Hugs, hugs and hugs

Paix,

Wendy

PS I still am moved each time i read that prayer from Rita Snowden you posted. Its moved others too that i've shown. You have blessed so many now by your sharing it : )

Sheila said...

Beautiful post! You have put into words many of my thoughts and feelings of a few months back when my little guy stopped nursing at 20 months.

Denise said...

Oh Elise,

How my heart feels at the exact moment she turns her face away. I could tell it was coming but it still caught me.

Thank you not only for sharing this moment in such a beautiful and tender way, but for the reminder that we, as mothers and especially as followers of Christ, are always needed as that loving, gentle and patient example.

My youngest is also a daughter, and even now at eight I find myself just holding her and speaking tender words to her, realizing that time is passing quickly and very soon she will be out of my lap and moving on to a different stage of life.

Wendy said...

Beautifully written, as always.

I always thought it was hard when this ended.

Tracy said...

Elise,
I feel your pain and longing. Even now with my baby being 8 and 1/2! I still long to nurse another baby.

What a wonderful husband to remind you that yes, she still needs you. Perhaps, no, most certainly even MORE to teach her of our glorious Savior, and what is to be a godly woman.

Your letters are beautiful, and I know that Eliana will cherish them someday.

Beverly said...

These letters to Eliana always make me cry, but even more so right now. Oh, I understand. Lena's dr has asked me to start supplementing as she needs to gain more weight, and I am finding it more sad then I thought I would. There is something so precious about those nursing times, yes, even in the middle of the night. I can't even begin to imagine how special these letters will be to Eliana when you present them to her. Hugs, dear Elise.

EEEEMommy said...

All the more touching because I KNOW!

Joel and Jaime said...

What a bitter-sweet moment. I never nursed as long as you---both my children finished at one year, but I remember sitting down and having a good cry when I realized it was over! And yet, we move on to rejoice in all the big things they are learning now.... I will pray that tomorrow morning goes smoothly for you!

Mindy said...

I cried too as I read this. I just weaned my baby also. It was a very emotional week for me. I admire you for nursing so long...

Audrey said...

Wiping tear from my cheek.....yep I remember that day.

Munchkin Land said...

Oh, my heart was breaking along with yours while reading this! There is something so special in the bond of mother-child and breastfeeding. Like you, even in the middle of the night, I'm relishing those moments! But I think your husband put it in such great perspective that I will be carrying that with me.

Thinking of you Elise!

Andrea said...

oh, yes, that is heartbreaking.
All the apron strings being cut...each time...heartbreaking.
You'll be fine. :)

Christine said...

I've thought a lot about that moment as I nurse our last. This made me cry, knowing it's coming and reading your beautiful words of sadness.

Maxine said...

I never nursed, but I've been seeing how significant this is for mother and child both. One more "letting go" thing for mama. There will be many more. I'm glad Eliana will have these letters when she's older. They will mean more than anyone can imagine.

Beka said...

Oh Elise, this brought tears to my eyes. How bittersweet for you, and yet your words and thoughts are so precious. Eliana and her brothers are blessed immeasurably to have a Mama who desires to be a patient example for them.

Julie said...

Oh, how I wept at this...I know that moment, and as glad as you are that you had the time together, that nursing was so successful before, it is still something that grieves a Momma's heart.

TaunaLen said...

Oh, Elise, what a beautiful, heartbreaking post. It reminds me of all those apron strings, some of which I didn't notice at the time, that lead up to this most recent set with my daughter. Oh, how precious these days are. All of them. Thank you for reminding me.

~TaunaLen

Alycia said...

This brought tears to my eyes, remembering the sweetness of nursing all three of my babies ~ and how too quickly the time passed. How I miss that special quiet time together. But, your husbands words are so wise and something to always remember. Blessings Elise. Beautiful post, as always.

Rachel said...

Wow. That was a beautiful and powerful post. It was especially touching to me, because I am trying to mentally and emotionally prepare myself to wean my third baby very soon, as he will be a year old this month. It's kind of a sad thought, because he very well may be my last child.
Anyway, loved your beautiful words.

~~Rachel
www.nothinggold.net

Me said...

It never really worked to breastfeed my first one - we kept it up for four months. :(

But I breastfed K for about fourteen months - I loved it.

I know how terribly sad it makes a mama feel.

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

even this formula-feeding mama was moved by your sweet, endearing words :)

Jenny said...

Beautifully written. I am nursing my last baby as well. He's only 2 months old right now, but the days go by soooo fast. This was a good reminder to me to treasure these days. Have you ever read "Let Me Hold You Longer" by Karen Kingsbury? I think you would enjoy it a lot. It might even be a book you would showcase on Children's Book Monday (or perhaps you have already?). I was also very touched by the words your wise husband spoke to you!! Blessings to you!!

Sarah said...

Sweet sister, I could feel your heart about this through your words, I just want to give you a hug my friend! I love this blogging thing, but sometimes I long for so much more with each of you! I'm one of those rare birds who doesn't ovulate...AT ALL while I'm nursing, so now that we are thinking about, hoping about adding to our family again soon, that helps a little with the thoughts of weening Chloe. But at the same time, I know I need to treat each child as if they are my last, not assuming that we will be blessed with another, and relishing in every moment with each child. Nursing is, by far, my favorite thing about the first year. Such a bond knowing that you are giving them what they need to live. As your husband put it though, this job will continue with their spirit. A big hug your way my friend! And a big smooch on the cheek!
Love, Sarah

AndiMae said...

Elise, I am a long-time lurker, finally leaving a comment...

This post is so beautiful! And it completely captures the exact feeling I had when I stop nursing my daughter. You found the words I never could. I remember being so sad, thinking, "If only I had known that last night was the last time!" In the end, I think that it was probably better that I didn't know when the last time was. And it made me feel a little bit better that it was she that was saying 'no' to me, not me having to say it to her.

I am due to have my second baby this next Thursday (hopefully sooner!:) and I am so excited to get to share the special bonding of nursing with him!

xoxo Andi
andimae.typepad.com

henryteachers said...

Oh, do our babies have to grow up! That time breastfeeding is such a precious time with them. What a beautiful letter to Eliana.
And that would be so neat to meet you in person when you move down this way in a few months. Hope your packing and selling of your home is going well.

Laura said...

Oh, Elise, I'm so sorry-I teared up reading this knowing my day will soon be here too. I'm dreading that time, knowing it will be much harder on me than her. So glad you're able to focus on the fact that you still have so much to offer and teach your precious little girl.

Anonymous said...

Tears are falling as I write this. How beautifully you have captured the mother's heart...My little one is 3, still nurses before bed but it won't be long....
Thank you for sharing.
~Christal

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