I walked up to the nursing station in the pediatric ICU and leaned against the counter. The nurse peered over her computer monitor at me.
“I need to use a breast pump,” I said.
This was probably the third time I had asked for one. On the way to the hospital, I, for the first time in my life, tried to have a positive attitude. I tried to think optimistically. We would arrive at the hospital, be shown to his room, and he would be laughing and playing with the staff. They’d chide him gently and tell him that he was just a little rascal for kicking his chair back. They’d tell us that they’d seen this a thousand times. And then we’d drive home with him. It would become this story about how we had such a big scare. “Silly old Jay. Do you remember when he kicked his chair back and got knocked right out?” We’d say. I had a mantra in the car ride over. My husband sat silently while I drove. I said to myself over and over again, “I will be nursing him tonight. I will be nursing him tonight.”
People like me who have a tendency to worry do so out of a sense of power. We think that if we worry ourselves to pieces, something bad won’t happen. But I saw something at the local hospital before Jay got transferred that changed that for once. It was a sign near the bathrooms that said, “Positive thinking works!” That’s it. I thought, “If there’s a time I should try thinking positively, this is it.” So I did.
That didn’t work. Maybe I should have worried myself shitless like usual.
By the next day, I knew already that I’d never nurse him again. I had stopped eating and drinking anything, and the extreme stress made my body stop producing milk. I have a tendency to get mastitis on the regular, so I couldn’t take any chances. I had to get whatever milk was in there, out.
The nurse behind the counter finally got someone to get a pump. A young woman cheerfully arrived with it. I looked across to the opposite side of the nursing station and there were two well dressed men sitting outside my son’s room. These were the detectives that drove 3 hours to interview my husband and me. They saw me, but were busy chatting to each other. Their demeanor was soft and easy, but I knew why they were there. I didn’t care that they were waiting. They could wait a little longer while I pumped milk out of my body that was made for my brain dead son.
The girl took me down a hallway that felt like a mile long. I was sure I wouldn’t be able to find my way back. During our 3 day visit at that hospital, I never managed to navigate it successfully. She took me to a tiny room, plugged in the machine and explained how it worked. It was different than my machine back home. It had a couple of extra buttons, and in my mental state of mind, I couldn’t process how to use it. She closed the door and walked away. I was left standing there looking at this machine totally dumbfounded. It could have been a defibrillator. I left the room to go get her. She had to return and tell me how to do it again. I finally was able to get it going this time.
I pumped for probably 20 minutes. Barely anything came out, maybe a couple of ounces at the most. It was green. It was a horrible, sad, heartbreaking experience. I unscrewed the bottles that the milk had drained into and I poured it down the drain. It was gone, like my little son’s life.
I walked back and returned the pump. Then I went to sit down with a detective so that he could interview me on whether or not I killed my son.
Fast forward to the other day, when a good friend told me that they liked the blog post 108 Saturdays. In that post I looked forward to the time that Floyd was older than Jay. She commented on how it must feel nice to be at that point. I concurred, but in my heart I didn’t feel it. Floyd is indeed older now, but I still felt like nothing had changed. I didn’t feel like we had moved into a new era. I mentally concluded that maybe I’d never feel that way.
Over the last several weeks, I have started to wean Floyd. At 14.5 months, I feel like I have done an amazing job nursing him. I feel I can draw this era to a close, and this time, the weaning will be done naturally. I dropped his feeds down to 2 a day, then 1, and as of this morning, none at all. My husband got up with Floyd and dressed him instead of me taking him back to bed to nurse and snooze. He and my husband emerged from his bedroom all smiles. He was so excited for his scrambled eggs he literally shook with excitement. I initially felt terribly sad at the realization that I would no longer make milk for my child. It is truly a gift to do that. Growing food from your body is pretty amazing. That physical connection would be gone. I had a brief moment of regret and considered nursing him after breakfast. “There’s no need to quit! I thought.
I then remembered my daughter, when she was little and I had already weaned her. She was about Floyd’s age, maybe a week or so younger. We had such a great time together when she was a toddler. I loved that time. It was then that I realized that weaning Floyd was the change that needed to happen for me to feel like we had moved into a new era. I never weaned Jay. It just stopped. Weaning would have been the natural progression, a milestone of growing up. Floyd will be able to reach this milestone and move into a new phase of childhood. I could move through this process and heal myself a little from what happened last time. This is the thing that should have happened, but didn’t. I looked at Floyd, sitting there eating his eggs happily. “This is it,” I thought. “We’re ready.”