No, that’s spelled right. Today is the fifth day that I have not nursed Hayden. I think I’ve decided that he’s weaned.
It hasn’t totally hit me yet. I suddenly realized when talking with a friend on Monday (yes! I have friends! She even called me and invited me to go out and DO something with her!) that this might change more than just what undergarments I can wear.
When Hayden was about 3 weeks old, I was feeling like I’d been through the wringer basically since his birth. No, I didn’t have one of those moments where you arrive home from the hospital, place the baby in the crib and in a state of sudden panic ask, “Now what?!” I’d like to think that I’m better than that, because I do know ‘now what’: the rest of your life. Take care of him. Hold him. Love him. And feed him every 90 minutes. (The truth is that I’m not better than that; I was too sick for nearly a week after we got home from the hospital to do anything but panic over how I would ever cope with raising a child while lying flat on my back.) (And feed him every 90 minutes.)
Anyway, at about 3 weeks, I felt like I’d given my baby my very soul and left nothing for myself—and he didn’t even know. He barely acknowledged my existence.
Ryan was holding him one evening and Hayden began to fuss. We decided he was hungry (it had been 90 minutes!) so I came to feed him. Mind you, it had only been 90 minutes since I nursed him last. I was hardly sleeping (at about one week of age, Hayden developed a mean grunt which kept us all up from 2-5 AM), healing, leaking milk, and completely over- and underwhelmed. Underwhelmed because for as much work as a baby requires, there is a LOT of downtime—which feels like wasting time. (I hate taking naps; they waste time and make me grumpier.) On the other hand, a baby requires more work in a day than can fit in 24 hours.
So on this day, as I came over to take Hayden from Ryan, whom I sure had only held the baby for a few minutes, I asked, “Does he even know who I am?”
I know the studies say that babies know their moms by smell virtually at birth and recognize their voices and can even distinguish between their own mother’s milk and another mother’s milk by two weeks, but I didn’t feel it. My sweet baby was a quiet, passive lump. His eyes could barely focus on anything—so he seemed to stare through me as I slowly killed myself for him.
Ryan knew I was having a hard time (though I think this post might surprise him). He looked at me with compassion and answered my question: “Of course he does [know who you are]. You’re dinner.”
We laughed. I needed to laugh then. I was getting all caught up in my hormonal and emotional overload and taking myself far too seriously. As much as I resisted it, I did need to lose myself to become a mother. I hated feeling my old self slip away and I didn’t like the new self that was emerging (she was crabby!).
But I was dinner. Most nights, I still am (I like cooking for the fam). I took that badge and wore it with honor. I AM DINNER.
It meant that I was strong enough to be a mother and provide for my child well. It meant that I made important sacrifices for his wellbeing. It meant that he needed me—and maybe even loved me. I promised myself that if I ever wrote a book about parenting, it would be called I Am Dinner.
I’m not dinner anymore.