This is the last time we will do this. And you, my last baby.
Our time together as breastfeeding mother and nursing infant comes to a close with a final, generous nighttime feeding. You've been ready for weeks, months really, and I've been holding on because, as a mother, that's what I know how to do best. I've spent eight years now, holding on. To impossibly small hands, to cardboard castles with crayoned windows, to chicken nuggets wrapped in paper, to tiny teeth, to snips of golden curl. To your sister who outsmarts me with logic and wit. To your brother who leaps off furniture and past milestones with reckless enthusiasm. And here, now, I'm holding on to you. To the utter completeness of this, of us. Of my ability to grow and nourish a human life.
What mad beauty it all has all been, the babyhood of my babies. What raw, hungry joy.
I don't know it now in the earliest hours of Thanksgiving morning, but today is the day you will cut your first tooth. A first wrapped in a last, on a day dedicated to gratitude. Back in graduate school, in my MFA program, we used to call these serendipitous moments "nonfiction gold" because, as lucky little details, these small truths served our stories better than fiction could. They made our truths truer; our personal narratives, universal. But I know, too, that as humans, we apply meaning wherever we need it. In this moment, in this chair, I don't know about your tooth and I'm not thinking about Thanksgiving, and applying that context after the fact would be a curious dishonesty.
Your jaw still suckles in your sleep, and I hold you an extra few minutes before laying you in your crib, tucking your knit blanket under your chin and waiting for the sharp intake of breath as you stir and resettle. Here, now, I only know this quiet fading.