I want to remember the moment forever. Sleepy and warm from a nap, we lay on the polka dot flannel sheets in my bed as I try to sneak in a few more moments with my eyes closed. Tucked in together, I lean my shoulder towards him so he can nurse from the other breast without having to flip us around. My face just inches from his, his eyes are wide and looking at me. He isn’t grabbing at my face which is normal for him at this close of proximity. Instead, we’re just looking at each other. The blue of his eyes is pronounced against his creamy skin and light wispy hair that can’t decided between blonde or strawberry at any given moment. His pupils are deep inkwells in my dimly lit bedroom. I watch my breast being tugged into his mouth, thinking of the sweet warm milk filling his belly while his eyes are peacefully locked onto mine. My mind flickers to the blue oval pills that my doctor wants me to take; pills I resist, but know I need. I can’t help but think soon this pure, beautiful milk he is drinking will be poisoned with medicine I never wanted anywhere near his brain. I feel the tears pooling in my eyes, the voice in my brain apologizing to him for something that I no longer have control over.
As he looks back at me, calm, placid, suckling intermittently, our eyes fixed on one another. In my mind I can hear him say “it’s okay mama; I’ll be okay, we’ll be okay.” The tears continue to pool and crest the lids of my eyes, trickling slowly across the bridge of my nose, my cheek. I know he is right. I think of his older brother, exposed to the same medicine almost from birth. That boys brain is remarkable, truly incredible, any sign of damage from the years exposed through my milk are imperceptible. But the fear still holds a strong current and I can’t shake it, nor can I let it pull me under. I’m rebelling like a teenager, too busy being angry at what is out of my control to figure out what I do have control over.
I wrote this in early November, when it became apparent that I had relapsed, that a post-partum mood disorder had taken hold and that I wasn’t going to be able to move through the anxiety and depression on my own. The defeat I felt, and still feel, was almost too much to bear in some moments, which is why I needed to hold on to that image, that connection, because that was what I was at risk of losing.
(No grief about ‘back to sleep’ in re: the pic, he rolled himself this way and I’ll be damned if I was going to wake him to roll him back.)