My baby is almost two and we are in the weaning process. Until shortly before Christmas she was waking up to nurse at 2 and 5 am, which kept my milk flowing well, even though I did not resume pumping when I went back to work after Katrina. With my older two children I quit pumping at a year and they both weaned completely by 15 months, basically figuring the little milk they were getting wasn't worth the trouble. Since unlike the others, the baby wasn't sleeping through the night, I knew the milk would last longer, but once she started sleeping through the night, I knew the beginning of the end was here. It is almost funny to watch her. She crawls in my lap holding my nursing pajamas (her security blanket) and says "nurse". She then sucks for a while, tries changing positions and then switching sides, sure that things will work the way they once did. It's like she hates to quit--but doesn't get the satisfaction from it she once did. She was always my best nurser, a working mom's daughter who hated bottles and only took what she had to during the day. While there is a part of me that is getting tired of having her hanging on me, she is, in all likelihood, my last baby and I feel a sense of loss knowing that I'm not going to be doing this again.
Tonight the thought entered my mind that there is another weaning going on in my life right now. My mom is dying. She was supposed to come home from the hospital today with hospice care. She has been sick for about three years now and is getting down about it. She is starting to be in pain at times, while the only "problem" her disease has given her up until this time has been extreme fatigue. We've all known for a long time that she was going to die sooner rather than later, but hearing the word "hospice" was like a punch in the gut--even though at Thanksgiving I was wondering if she'd make it to Christmas. Just as weaning the baby is a natural process of separation with steps that are pretty identifiable if you know what to look for, so too is the death of the aged from chronic illness. There is the "I'm ready for this to be over with" contrasted with "Once its gone, it's gone for good" and the knowledge that as I must wean the baby, so must I say goodbye to my mom.