I was so busy that I hardly marked the event. It was only later in the day that I realized what I had done. I don't think anyone else would have thought it was a big deal, but at least my husband frowned too when I told him.
M had her last bottle of frozen breast milk.
She had my milk off and on during her first year, because of a milk protein allergy. It's largely the reason I gave up breastfeeding in the first place, and it's such a painful subject for me.
But, I always knew there was still milk in the freezer.
M is bigger and stronger. She's becoming a toddler and leaving babyhood behind. It's not that M won't have any more breast milk, because I've come to terms with that fact. Preemies are babies for so long that it's not like I haven't had a chance to savor it!
The real heartache is that I won't have any more babies. It's that I won't ever really breastfeed (pumping isn't breastfeeding). It's that I will have no more milk for no more babies.
I know life goes on, and I should get over it. Life will be much simpler without high risk pregnancies and NICU stays and long preemie babyhoods. I know the decision we made was the right one.
Well, really, there was no decision. When you're told not to have more children, that you're at risk for preterm labor, preeclampsia, uterine rupture, and bleeding to death, what is there to decide? I have two beautiful children whom I need to mother. With J, having a preemie was the shock of a lifetime, and the second time having preeclampsia was a bizarre turn of events. What condition or complication would my body think up next time? I know I can handle preemies, but what if I had a baby even earlier? Too early?
And there was my doctor's look--my doctor who delivered J on that terrible night. I was just a month removed from M's birth, and my blood pressure was still swinging erratically. I was weak and fragile. And what I wanted to hear was that somehow next time might be different. That there might be a next time.
My doctor looked me square in the eyes and said the two separate incisions on my never-fully-expanded uterus put me at great risk for bleeding to death. Assuming everything else went fine, which was quite an assumption. No more children. No more.
I called my best friend on the way home, and I told her that she's lucky. She has yet to have babies, to witness the miracle of their births, to meet these new little people who will dominate her life. And I am envious.
I told everyone that maybe with time I would make peace with the decision that was not mine to make. Plenty of people have much worse to make peace with. I try not to wallow. But, every time I hear someone is pregnant. Every time I see a big belly. Every time I look at my babies who are growing so fast. I feel such a pang through my heart. I just don't have any peace about it at all.
I look at my two and wonder about a third baby. What would he or she look like? My babies are so different: a boy and a girl, cautious and wild, serious and silly, reserved and gregarious. What would a third child be like? Who would that child be?
It feels like there is another child out there. Like we are missing someone.
A year later, and I still feel the exact same way as I did when the doctor told me. A rush of blood to my face. An ache in my heart. And such sadness.
Why does it have to be this way?