I was in the market last week and woman was there with her weeks-old baby in a carrier. It was a beautiful baby, and as I admired the baby to its mother, I felt the familiar tingle of letdown in my breasts. I was so consumed with baby lust that my body was ready to start breastfeeding again.
As familiar as the emotional feeling of baby lust is to me, that physical feeling took me by surprise. It must of registered on my face because the mom responded with a facial expression of her own, a quizzical one. I told her I'd just had letdown even though my youngest is almost four and it's been years since I nursed. We both had a good laugh.
I walked away and thought about baby lust. Several of my mom friends and I have this feeling regularly even though we have made decisions as individuals, as couples, and for our families that mean our reproductive lives are over. We know we have made the right decisions, but, oh, to hold and comfort a newborn again. The overwhelming physical and emotional impact, the smell of a baby head, everything. It can make us weak in the knees. We're even willing to take on the hard stuff again. Yes, I do remember there was hard stuff. I am not totally romanticizing that time (only mostly).
There were nights (and days) of tears and confusion for all of us. Although I didn't love the sleep deprivation
of the early months of my children's lives, I did give myself over to it, and I have many sweet memories from wee hours of these beings, then so impossibly tiny, asleep on my chest. Every stir, every touch, every infant sigh. I look at them now and wonder how it's conceivable that these gangly big kids were ever that small.
I know there are plenty of people out there who aren't "baby people." They much prefer the older ages. It's not that I don't like the older ages – actually, I do! – it's that I love those early weeks and months. It was just such an amazing time to me, getting to know this new little person and watching them discover the most basic of realities of their world ("Hey, that hand is mine!"). I miss that newness, that tenderness.
Perhaps I allow myself to think deeply on this, to experience this baby lust fully, because I know I will not have another baby of my own. Perhaps this is part of my grieving process for that time in my life. Regardless, it's there right now, and I think it will be a part of my life in some way, for a long, long time.