You don't have to know me well to know that I'm not a gal who likes change. I can and do eat the same meals for breakfast and lunch every day (and would do the same for dinner if Jeff would let me!); I've been working at the same job for over six years; I've been going to the same hairdresser since I was 15; I've been wearing the same eye makeup practically since I started wearing eye shadow; I can read the same books and watch the same movies and TV episodes over and over . . . you get the idea. I like routine; I find stability there. As I'm sure it does for a lot of people, change throws me off-kilter, not just in terms of what I do on a day-to-day basis, but on a deeply emotional level.
The last year has brought one of the biggest life changes out there into our family - our beautiful son, Reed Alexander. While there have been a few rocky periods of adjustment, particularly the first month and a half before Reed slept for longer stretches of time, and when I went back to work three months ago, I've actually been surprised at how relatively unaffected I have felt by all of it. Reed's arrival has certainly changed everything about the way Jeff and I live our lives, and we have had to adjust not only the way we socialize and prioritize, but also the way we interact with each other. But I have not felt emotionally rocked in the way I thought possible, given the hugeness of having a baby.
Perhaps it was all just storing up for the last two days. This morning we closed on our townhouse of 3 1/2 years, effectively ending that first chapter our married and family life. Even as I type, I feel grief roll through me and tears stream down my face. This morning as we did our final walk-through of the house with the new sellers, I stood for a long time in front of what was Reed's nursery, staring at the room in which I spent so many hours in the last 7+ months. Despite its small size, I love everything about that room - its warm yellow walls, its nearness to the master bedroom (just 13 steps from my side of the bed to the crib), the closeness of the crib to the doorway (so I could see his sweet face from the door), the window overlooking the grassy common area of the complex. Jeff and I put so much time and love into that one room. I can't believe that I won't ever be in it again.
While I know the next chapter is going to be just as special - finding that forever home in which we will raise Reed (and hopefully other children as well) and host family gatherings, birthday parties, and sleepovers - I'm chafing at the change and uncomfortable with the in-between state we're in now, living in an apartment and not knowing for how long or when that perfect house is going to come on the market. I never anticipated feeling this much grief at leaving 827 Ivy League Lane. Some sadness, of course, but not the sense of loss and mourning I feel now. I have to believe some of that is due to the fear and discomfort I feel with the huge change and transition taking place.
On top of the move, since last week Reed has been on a nursing strike, which started with just the bedtime feedings but has now extended to the morning feedings as well. There could be a myriad of reasons - teething, his umpteenth cold, my stress from the move, a dip in my milk supply - but the idea of giving up nursing is putting me into more of a tailspin than the move! I have LOVED nursing Reed. He's been a fantastic nurser nearly from the start and it's been my unique joy to provide his nourishment. I love the closeness of nursing him - something I realized even more in the last few days, when I've had to give him a bottle. There is an intimacy in holding him close and stroking his soft little head and hair, with his hands wrapped around my fingers, that just isn't there when he's propped on my lap taking a bottle.
Here's the thing - rationally I know that Reed will not breastfeed forever. And I've never wanted to breastfeed a toddler. But I always thought that the decision to wean would be mine, not his, and I also thought it would be gradual. From everything I've read and heard (thank you, Beth Steiner!), I've heard that nursing strikes are common and don't necessarily mean that Reed is done nursing. I'm praying this is the case and that we're just going through a bad patch. While I can prepare myself for the inevitable change coming down the road, when Reed no longer nurses, I'm not quite ready yet! One huge change this week is enough for me. So, fingers crossed that we can weather this nursing strike and get Reed back on track soon.
But what I need to remind myself of is this: change, while scary and uncomfortable, is not bad. It's necessary and can bring new and exciting developments to our lives. I can be sad at leaving our old house, but this change is going to bring us a bigger house that will allow us to grow as a family. And I can mourn the fact that I may soon have to give up my precious nursing sessions with Reed, but I can delight in the fact that he's growing and developing his independence. These changes may mean the end of one stage, but they mark the beginning of another. Here's to new stages!