Friday, May 1, 2009

My unfiltered thoughts

I cried the whole way home from the doctor yesterday. I raged, I wept, I mourned. I had intended to pump my “good” remaining breast and dump the poisonous milk throughout the chemo treatments or whatever, and when it was all done, many months from now, if Daniel wanted to he could return to nursing. Somehow the thought that I could offer him that, that this wasn’t Mama taking it away forever and ever, somehow that made the thought of all that comes next a little more bearable. He may by then be completely uninterested. But in the end it would be his choice and knowing I gave that back to him just would make me feel…well, it’s just hard to explain without weeping so hard I can’t type.

Anyway, if this doctor is right about the milk-making hormones and some effect on breast cancer, then my hopes are out of the question. I will double and triple check his opinion, as my gut tells me something is off about that.

It may seem strange to many of you, in the scheme of everything I am facing, to worry so much about nursing a toddler of 2.5, something clearly many women who are devoted breast-feeders don’t even do. He is certainly old enough to be weaned by most Western standards. I just don’t happen to subscribe to those standards (or very many other ones, actually, lol). Btw, did you know the average age of weaning worldwide is over five years old?

Besides, right now it’s about alot more than that.

To my son, I am a world…a world of suckling warmth, loving eye contact, stroking each other’s hair (“Mama, your hair so booful” as he pets mine, also soon to be gone)…I am the one that holds him on my chest while he rests, when he hurts he wants to nurse, when he’s tired he wants my breast to drift off to sleep. I cuddle with him in other ways, yes, but it is not the same, not physically, not emotionally, for him or me.

While I undergo all of this and am ill, deformed, bald, and weak, I can still be there for my Megan in many of the same ways I am today. I can talk to her about violin lessons and bugs, especially caterpillars (she’s crazy for tent worms, most people mistake them for Gypsy moths but Meggie knows the difference) she loves Meebas and her Petz5 computer game and certain TV shows and dogs -- any creatures really, she’s a true nature lover and very earth science-minded. I can still share all that with her while hairless, breastless and in between bouts of puking into a bowl if I have to. She’ll suffer some losses and I grieve for all of that too, oh so deeply. But it won’t compare to her baby brother.

To Daniel, to a toddler, Mama is different. Daniel is very bright, he’s very verbal for a child his age, but he is still only two. I am soft breasts and long hair and carrying him on my hip or crawling on the floor playing Thomas the Train. I will be able to offer none of that, perhaps for a long time, perhaps some of it gone forever. I am about to take myself away from him, piece by piece, bit by bit. To him it matters not why. Yes, someday he will understand how much I went through, how my heart broke, my very soul ached beyond a describable pain. But today, now, a huge part of who I am is leaving him. His world as he knows it is about to crumble and to him in some primal way, it will be me doing it.

Knowing this is tearing me apart more than I can stand. I look at him and weep. He keeps asking me, “Wass a matta Mama, you okay?” I am trying to prepare him, telling him that now Mama’s other ta-ta (his name for my breasts) is sick and that soon I can’t give him any more. I keep avoiding the circumstances when he used to like to nurse. Our morning routine has changed, afternoons when he's cranky I hide away...but bed times…that’s the one that I’ve yet to let go of. He says to me with the sweetest smile, “Now we ready ta-ta poh?” (poh is what he calls the pillow he lays on astride me)…he’s so happy to finally get what he wants, finally get that blissful bonding that just can’t be duplicated or replaced. I’m sorry I don’t mean to suggest non-breastfeeding moms don’t have that…I think if you never did nurse than you developed that bliss, that bond, in another way, I know that. But I have nursed, and this is our way and I’m so damn sad and angry and grief stricken that this is happening to my beautiful baby boy I can’t cry hard enough, scream loud enough, mourn deeply enough. It is beyond unfair.

I’m sorry. I have to stop.


La Belette Rouge said...

It is so f*c*n* unfair. I am so sorry. But, you give your son much more than milk. You give him so much love that can NEVER-EVER-EVER be taken from either of you. Bliss is not breast dependent. You give him that. It won't be the same and I am so sorry. Ugh. But, bliss bond transcends breasts. It has to. Doesn't it? I don't know. I am not a mother and I don't know. But, I do know that I am so sorry. HUGE hugs to you. xoxo

Kayleigh said...

That you would/could speak these beautiful, supportive, meaningful & truthful words to me, OMG, I could just scream I love you at the top of my lungs so loud you could hear it clear across the country. Did you?

Thank you. You are right. You do know.

La Belette Rouge said...

Kayleigh: I did and I am moved to tears. I love you too.
Please feel the hug I am sending you.xoxo

~Tessa~Scoffs said...

Years and years from now, you will remember this horrible wrenching from your sweet little Daniel as a necessary step to survival. (You know) he won't remember the actual weaning beyond a few days or weeks. His love for YOU is greater than his love for your breasts. Someday he will be a man, so credit him with this, his first test of selfless love. Yes, toddlers are capable of being selfless, at times. He CAN put your needs above his. Every pregnancy, birth, nursing relationship is it's very own thing. Maybe not what we planned, or wanted, but it has a life and term of its own. (Like when we plan a "natural" birth and then have to have a C-section). This thing is bigger than both of you but NOT bigger than your love for each other.
Please know that I am not dismissing your style or your choices. I respect so much the nursing relationship between mother and child. You have a right to be angry and sad and grief stricken. Thinking of you...

Chuck Dilmore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chuck Dilmore said...

this is a most beautiful post.
such depth. you've made
a beautiful world for you & your family.

i think you will find
that although a part of you
will become but a story, a memory,
you and they MADE that memory!

you've given
and nurtured so beautifully...
that can't be erased or taken back!

it will live on.

and you will create new ways to nurture.
you will make new circles of love
to share with your family... every bit as deep.

after all... it's still you.
and they know that.

i think you will also find
that your kids and husband
will be remarkable healers.

they chose your spirit. you chose theirs.
each is equipped, and
resilient, and


sailor talk:
cancer's a bully.
but break his nose & you OWN his ass!

Cassie said...

I just wanted you to know that you are a wonderful mother!! You are going through this insane experience, and I think what speaks novels is that the least of your worries is you, your children are at the forefront of your mind, and I think that you are absolutely amazing!

sallymandy said...

Dear Kayleigh, Everything I'd say here has already been said. My heart breaks for you, but at the same time I know it's true that Daniel loves you, his mom, your heart, and that's not going away. His little heart has so many doors in it that love can come in and go out. Much love and good wishes to you, dear.

Unknown said...

I second what everyone else has said/written. As a teacher of young children (aged 3-6), I think they are much more intuitive and understanding than perhaps we adults realize. The love you give to your children will never leave their hearts and minds, ever. I don't know if this is even close as a comparison, but when my mother left us to emigrate to the U.S., my brother was only about a year old, and she was devastated that this would impact him in a very negative way, as she was gone for almost 2 years before we could join her. She had to do that in order to get us all a decent life. In any case, her fears were unfounded and I can say that we are closer to her than ever, and I will never forget her love and caring for us even when she couldn't be there, in person. We were so little and yet it had a huuuuge impact on us! If children know that they are loved and cared for, that's all they really need to thrive.

Also, every year we do a mother's day card as a school project and ask the kids questions about their moms, one of them being "What does your mom look like?" Almost all the time, regardless of what a mother actually looks like, children will say, "She is really pretty" or "beatutiful" ... no matter what! In your children's eyes, it really doesn't matter what you physically look like, they think you're beautiful.