I just want to hold him for a little longer

#4 came 2 years later than his evenly spaced by 2 years siblings. He wasn’t a surprise. After #3 I didn’t think my weak and injured back, our family, or my sanity could handle another pregnancy. When #4 was born I breathed a sigh of relief and felt our family was complete. But it had been 4 years since I had done this whole baby thing and while some things come back like riding a bike some things very much did not. Knowing he was really my last baby I appreciated him more and tried to savor the moments. He had terrible skin, eczema, and cradle cap. We were trying every lotion and creme we could get our hands on. Around his 5 months mark my back pain was getting worse and I prayed we weren’t heading down the herniated disc road again. Sitting and nursing him every 3-4 hours was becoming more and more painful no matter what position I was in. My gut told me it was time to stop nursing and the medication for my back my doctor wanted to put me on confirmed the choice I was leaning to. “At least I can still hold him close with the bottle,” I told myself. “He just wants to be fed, he doesn’t care how”. He took a bottle like a champ and his skin started to clear up. My hunch about food allergies he was reacting to from my milk seemed to be confirmed. But my back got worse and sitting to hold him while he ate got harder and harder and I could feel the physical gap between us get bigger. My mom noticed how much more snugly he was on one of her visits. “He is craving the skin to skin contact my back pain is robbing me of,” I shouted in my head but out loud I said nothing. I started propping him up in his crib on his nursing pillow while I held his bottle because it was less painful if I didn’t have to bend. When he was done I would move everything out of his crib and pick him up and lay him on my left shoulder to burp him.  That first night he snuggled into my neck, took a big sigh as if to say “Ah, here is where I belong.” and he completely relaxed. I held him close and tried not to cry. I kissed his head and rubbed his back and softly touched his hair. I knew he would be okay and that I was making the best choice for both of us but that didn’t stop the steady flow up tears. I had done this enough times to know that my back was probably going to get worse so I physically wouldn’t be able to hold his as long if at all. But even if my back was fine babies grow up. They learn to control those limbs and the excitement of exploration and torso control/strength meant he wouldn’t always want to snuggle in and be my baby. So for as long as I can, I’m going to hold him just a little longer.

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