Within just minutes of getting my diagnosis, I also learned that I would have to stop nursing Lauren. Like her brothers before her, my baby girl was very happily nursing into her second year. I had no plans to stop anytime soon, unless she did. But with chemotherapy suddenly pending, that choice was taken away from us. In the grand scheme of things, abrupt weaning is far from the greatest of our challenges. But still. Having to end our nursing relationship so quickly made for acute mama heartache.
I found out about my diagnosis on a Friday. On the following Monday, I nursed Lauren for the last time as I put her down for her nap before heading out for my PET/CT scan. For the scan the medical staff basically gave me a radioactive agent intravenously and, as I had read they would, cautioned me against breastfeeding for 48 hours. I figured that I wouldn't be tempted to nurse Lauren if I thought my milk was, well, radioactive and that this was just as good a time to stop as any. Plus, Matt had taken the week off work and could put her down for her naps and even took over her bedtime routine, times when she would probably most miss nursing. My parents were in town, so there were ample fun distractions for her. She handled it all so well. She'd ask me to nurse first thing in the morning but I'd just tell her "Mama's milk's all gone" and she'd just suck her thumb and snuggle closer. By the end of the week, she stopped asking. I was relieved and sad at the same time.
I feel like there's been a lot of relief and sadness about my relationship with Lauren over the last month. Last Friday, I had my chemotherapy port placed and as part of my recovery, I couldn't lift anything over ten pounds for a week. Ugh, it's hard for me not to scoop her up--even with my mom and Matt around to help. I was relieved that I had help and that she quickly took to Mimi as her primary snuggler. Indeed, just a month ago, I kind of longed for some space from Lauren's seeming constant need to be on my hip. But the physical distance felt so strange and sudden that I couldn't help but feel sad about it. In the last day or two, I've been able to hold her more and that does my heart so good. All the while, I've been grateful that she's had her Mimi and Daddy around to love on her too.
As is her toddler prerogative, Lauren's world is full of such big feelings. She is overwhelmingly happy and adventurous. She loves being outside, collecting rocks, leaves, sticks and tree bark on walks. And more often than not, she prefers to run than walk--no doubt trying to keep up with her brothers on their bikes. But she also gets mad if things don't go her way. Say, if you remove her bib or hoodie when she's not ready, or insist that she sit in her high chair to eat, or take off her most favorite pair of shoes in all the world. She definitely lets us know when we displease her.
We mostly abide her displeasure by letting her flail about on the floor if she won't let one of us hold her. Given some space, we are usually back in her good graces in just a few minutes, often with the help of a snack, toy or book. She eats well and often and is showing no signs of becoming pickier. She loves to play with cars right alongside her brothers and is very excited about throwing and catching "balls!" Lead her to the bookcase in her room, and you will likely spend the better part of an hour going through her favorites. She's also learning to count to five and loves singing the ABC song. I feel like my baby's had to grow up a lot this month and I'm so very impressed with her grace and strength. And especially her smile.