After waking at 3:30 a.m. this morning to the sound of the alarm and not Anderson, I am writing from the plane on my way to Minneapolis for my first business trip as a mother. So far, so good as can be. Last night Anderson and I went through an abridged version of our evening routine (since returning to work, my time with Anderson is focused mainly in the evenings and includes bathtime and going to bed). He is a "natural eater" and seems to have taken to eating from a spoon as easily as he took to nursing. I gave him a small bottle just before bed and as I held him at my shoulder to burp him, he snuggled into my neck (that's my favorite) and started to fall asleep. Rather than moving on to our book reading, I just held him like that and shed a few tears as I thought about leaving him in the morning for my trip. I will only be gone for three days, and I didn't sob, but it was hard to think of leaving him this time and the many times that will occur in the coming months. It is also hard to leave Jonathan knowing how much he will be juggling as a single dad while I'm away. He will do it amazingly, I know, but it will be exhausting.
After my little cry, we did read the Going to Bed Book, sang my new favorite lullaby - Stay Awake from Mary Poppins, said our prayers, and A quietly went down for the night (or at least the next few hours). Then, I resumed packing and tried to get myself tired enough to go to sleep early.
In preparation for this momentous journey, I began weaning two weeks ago. I've been meaning to write a little bit about this because there was more emotion attached to it than I had anticipated. Yes, I know that an income is a good thing and I am ever grateful for my job, but I have to admit some resentment at needing to cut short my time nursing in order to begin leaving my family for days at a time. There's something peculiar about that. Add to this the fact that I actually enjoyed nursing, most of the time. It was something that only I could for A and I took a lot of pride in that. Sure, it was inconvenient at times - like when running errands - but on the whole, I relished this time with A, even in the middle of the night. There is something incredible about the whole process and something special about those times when I was all he needed to feel safe and secure and nourished. And in the times when it didn't come easily my empathy grew so much deeper for friends who tried valiantly to nurse and in the end were not able to do it. The bonds between mother and child can certainly be as strong through bottle feeding - one need only look at the relationship between my mother and me for confirmation of that - and perhaps things won't go as smoothly with our next child. But, with Anderson, as a brand new mother, nursing has been a gift. Now that he (and I) are fully weaned, it seems the end of a significant phase in our lives. It is liberating, I won't deny that, and it's nice not to have to sequester myself in a windowless office in order to pump a couple of times a day at work, but I was sad. My baby is growing up.
In this post, I also wanted to note some thoughts on traveling to Minnesota. Before starting my job, I had visited Minnesota only once on my cross country journey as a teenager. I had never been to Rochester and didn't realize that it was home to the Mayo Clinic until I saw a list of our medical school alumni and wondered why there was such a concentration of them in Rochester. My first trip to Rochester was last spring and it is so weird to be visiting a town that seemingly revolves around a world-famous medical institution. In the hotel on that trip, a family was checking in and I realized that they were most likely staying in Rochester so that one member of the family could be seen by the medical professionals at Mayo - was it a parent? Was it one of the children? The entire downtown area is a maze of Mayo buildings - I'm not sure if there is any other industry there. I was reminded of this just a few minutes ago when I glanced over at the woman seated across the aisle from me on the plane. She and her son are traveling together. She carried an old, hard shell briefcase and didn't appear to be a routine business traveler. As she was reviewing the contents of the manila folder on her seat-back tray, I noticed that there were several business cards stapled to the folder with what seemed to be medical logos on them. Are she and her son traveling to Rochester when they land in Minneapolis? Are they hoping for a miracle at Mayo? I will never know, but it did give me pause. I said a prayer for my family and for my friends, Jill and Chris, and was thankful that I am going to be visiting Rochester on business.