[above is a photo of ramona in bed w me. i often sneak her in to snuggle when jp is away at work. below is an excerpt from an entry for her 19 month mark in her baby journal]
my apologies there are three blank months preceding this entry. lord willing, you will have a younger sibling one day and I can guarantee you they will have even more empty months than you, so don’t feel too bad.
a lot has happened in the last three months. mama and papa opened a restaurant, and i stopped looking after max full-time. it’s just you and i now. and the transition, though relatively easy, was a big one all around. oh, and papa and i also are trying for another baby. so we thought now would be a good time as any to officially wean you.
i was worried about it — weaning you. but i had no idea you’d handle it so well. and, worst part for me? i didn’t know that the last time i nursed you was the last time i was ever going to nurse you. while we were planning to do so, we weren’t planning it for when it happened. at this point it was just talk: it was before nap time on 2/4, a monday. and then papa put you down for bed that night w/o incident. and then i was gone to work before you woke up the next day. and then papa put you down for a nap before i got home.
and since it was three times already w me NOT putting you to sleep (a record!), i tried putting you down that tuesday evening to sleep w/o nursing. and whaddya know, i found myself shedding some tears during my final song to you (God made your ears, God made your nose…) when you just simply put your sleepy head on my shoulder and let me rock you without pointing to the couch and saying “nurse! nurse! nurse!”. i was sad, minka, –for me– that i hadn’t known to hold that last time –at nap time the previous day– tight in my memory and to take it in and relish the moment. it happened so, well, naturally. but i wish that final time was more vivid in my memory bc all those nursing moments the past 18 months have been so so important to me.
but i’m so proud of you too, little minka moo. the first three days of not nursing were painful only to me. you seemed to have moved on overnight, which is a testament to your strong, stubborn personality that is so confident and assured. after three days, papa brought you up to bed with us, like we always used to, for a family snuggle. and this act must have triggered memories for you bc you started crying adamantly ”nurse! nurse! nurse!”. and i sat up w you and asked you to look in my eyes. once you did i gently said: “ramona, we don’t do this anymore” even though it wasn’t exactly what i wanted to hear either. so papa brought you some almond milk and we all went and sat on the couch and, sure enough, you guzzled that up and started asking for cheerios.
two days have passed now that you haven’t even mentioned the word. at least not in seriousness. this morning you uttered it quietly. and then looked at me with a knowing smirk on your face as if to say, “well, it doesn’t hurt to ask.” and then you let out a giggle and gave me a “BEE HUH” (a big hug). you are growing, mo mo. and i am so proud of who you continue to become, miss independent and all.
i love you. love, mama.
we first hear your soft whimpers and babbles on the video monitor around 5:00 in the morning. waiting for it to get urgent, we end up falling back asleep bc you do too. then again, you usually stir at 6:30, and by 7:00 you are fully calling for us to come get you out of your crib. we hear the thump thump thump of your pacifiers hitting the rug (i think you sleep with at least four. apparently you only care about them when flinging them to the ground for dramatic effect).
papa always is the one to go get you. he brings you up to our room and into bed and under our covers, and then the three of us snuggle while you nurse for the first time of the day. we spend the time cooing to you, giddy but still sleepy, and papa and i discuss our plans for the coming day. then, when you’ve had enough, you crawl around the bed and over our bodies, kissing first papa and then me and then otto. otto always gets lots of kisses. i realize this sounds a bit contrived, maybe saccharine. honest to goodness, this is what the first fifteen minutes of our day looks like and i wouldn’t trade it for anything.
but you, sweet sweet ramona, you are getting older, and much more independent. you devour eggs and yogurt and oatmeal for breakfast. you snack on cheddar cheese and bananas and smoothies papa whips up. you love pasta and red sauce and haven’t made up your mind about meat. unless it’s ribs, dripping from the bone. black beans are your absolute favorite. especially if they’re spicy.
and on top of eating solids like a champ (most of the time) you have discovered there is a world beyond your mama and your home and your backyard. and you love this fact. you are so ready to explore and introduce yourself and get to know the universe. when we are out walking you will seek out the nearest human or dog or ant or flower or playground slide to say hello to. fearless, you are, and sometimes i need to hold tight to your tiny little hand to protect you from dangers that are not evident to you yet (streets and cars and doors that slam shut and kids swinging on swings and dogs we don’t know).
i beam with pride at your exuberance and your confidence and your enthusiasm about the people and places and things around you. just yesterday you stomped around the playground with two older girls, not once looking back to check where i was bc you were so content to be making new friends. even when they accidentally pulled you over a high ledge and you fell, you simply got up, dusted off your hands, and toddled quickly back to grab their outstretched hands.
but what this means, ramona, (and this is something that will hold little significance to you until you are a mama one day) is that our relationship is changing. undoubtedly it’s for the better–and it’s natural and neccesary–but it is a little tough on me, your mama, right now. for nearly fourteen and a half months you and i have shared a special connection: since you were born you have nursed. and this was a constant i could count on (we both could count on). you needed me and i loved giving you the nourishment and “home base” you needed. it was a time for us to sit down, take a time-out from whatever was going on, and fill-up: you with milk and me with good hormones and a tangible reminder of who we are to each other.
but you are nursing less and less. once in the morning (my favorite nurse of the day with you), perhaps for a very short bit once, maybe twice, during the course of the day, and then right before bed. besides our morning time together, i don’t even think you are receiving much, if any, milk. and though it is a sweet time with you, i know this means it’s time to start weaning you (and myself) and to continue to move towards encouraging you to be the independent young girl you are becoming. the morning nurse/snuggle, will probably be the last to go. and i imagine that day, that morning–when you come upstairs and do not shriek with anticipation about your first nurse; when you go straight to morning kisses and being all roly-poly all over the bed instead of searching gleefully and frantically under my top–that morning will be so so so bittersweet for me. you are my daughter, my love. but foremost you are your own person and i must respect the changes in your development, in your needs, in your personality, and in your preferences. and while it is difficult for me to have this part of being-ramona’s-mama ending, i am so excited to see what else our mother-daughter bond has in store down the road.
i love you, my minka, my beanie bop, my mo and my moo. you are really the best.