The thing about the last time is that you sometimes don’t know it’s the last time. On Sunday, Audrey woke up from a long nap and I went into her room to pick her up, give her a hug and snuggle her sweet cheek against mine as we looked in her mirror. I knew that afternoon I’d be loading up my rental car, spending an hour or so with her and Danny at the park before leaving them for a week-long work trip. I packed my pump and bought a new package of breastmilk storage bags (I gave the rest of mine to Stacy since I never really though I’d need them at this point). I sat down in the glider in Audrey’s room as she latched on and stared up at me with her sleepy eyes and I combed her fluffy hair with my fingers. She reached up to touch my nose and my eyes and lips as I mimicked her and touched her tiny little features and told her her nose was cute and her eyes were beautiful, those crystal blue stunners.
I realized this could be the last time she’d nurse, and I felt a rush of emotions. I felt sad for the end of this sweet time with my baby girl. I felt lucky because I was able to breastfeed for so long, pumping at work behind closed blinds for eight long months, and then being able to continue after (mostly) retiring my pump. I felt thankful that my body supported her and her brother through pregnancy, birth, and infancy, despite facing the possibility at age 18 that I’d never be able to have children at all and, after she was born, knowing that I’d never do it again. I longed for the tiny baby she once was and admired the big girl she is becoming. As she reached up to twirl my hair, I felt the joy and peace of that tiny moment with my baby girl. In case it was the last time, I wanted to remember it.
Three days into my trip, I pumped an ounce and a half and know that by the time I see her again on Sunday morning, there may not be any milk left. She may try to nurse, and she may cry. Or maybe she will just give me a hug and fight her brother for the first hug. But I’m not too sad, at least not right now. While I may not always now when the last times will happen—I start to cry thinking about the lasts yet to come—I know I didn’t miss out on this one.