Did you know the Philippines is in a state of natural disaster today? I would simply be thinking about the Olympics, literally fat, dumb, and happy if I weren’t keeping up with my friend, Anne, over at Green Eggs and Moms. I’m so grateful she’s opened my eyes!
Here are Anne’s practical suggestions for helping: Rain Has Not Stopped In Days, Please Help Those Affected.
Naively, I never realized there would be a need for breast milk during a natural disaster! The knowledge of that need reminded me of a post I wrote shortly after Tres was born for another blog about why I nurse my babies at all.
It seemed like the right time to share. Hope you enjoy!
It’s about to get racy here (I guess… ). And if you’re uncomfortable, I’m very sorry.
But… here goes. I have been either pregnant or nursing since 2005. That’s years of allowing my body to be shared with a child.
In all that time I have never thought introspectively about breastfeeding until today.
I realize that this method of feeding your child is not for everyone, that sometimes circumstances conspire and it’s just not possible to nurse. Statistics say that in the US the vast majority of women who breastfeed are white, work part-time or not at all outside of the home, and are from middle-to-upper socio-economic status.
I feel privileged that my circumstances allow me the option of nursing.
Over the years I have gotten more and more committed to breastfeeding. It’s been an activity I place as a priority in my parenting but I’ve never really, really thought about it. It’s just something I do.
I questioned that this afternoon as I was able to calm Tres down from a fury by acting as a human pacifier. Why do I care how this child is fed, as long as she gets food in her belly?
The answer? Because my child is getting fat.
Plumpness is appearing on her thighs, over her belly, even her little toes are chunkier than they were at birth. There’s something more than wonderful amazement about watching those cheeks plump up and the thighs get thick.
Today I accepted responsibility: this child’s sustainability is because of the milk I feed her. Period. That’s the only thing she’s ingested since birth. Nothing else, not Tyson chicken or Kraft or anything that was the work of Keebler elves. My milk. My body’s magical system, my sacrifice of time, skin elasticity, calorie count and vitamin deposits. It’s not processed, not fast food, there are no shortcuts or taking the night off and letting someone else do the work. Just me!
That’s a big deal! There are the facts about nursing that are compelling as well. For example: that the mother’s body is able to accurately predict what the baby needs at any given time and provide the perfect combination of nutrients within the milk; that babies who are nursed typically experience fewer sicknesses; and that a nursing child emits a hormone that calms everyone in the room down.
As cool as that is, there are emotional benefits as well… at least for me.
I watch her while she’s nursing. The greedy, quick suck-suck-suck shifts into the deep, satisfying rhythmic gulp as my baby settles into the business of satiation.
Holding her in this position against my chest makes the light shine off her cheeks more beautifully. Those eyelids close over bright eyes and the lashes fan open as she drinks, a dark line of soft, wispy caterpillars across her lids.
As she achieves a state of utter relaxation, her body gets heavier and heavier and my body lightens. With a deep sigh her rosebud mouth loses its grip — we are done.
Sometimes the ensuing separation is almost painful, the severing of an intimate, irreplaceable bond. Other times as she nurses I fidget, anxiously waiting for her to finish so I can lay her down, giving my arms a break from holding, waiting for my hands to become my own again to accomplish the work I want to do rather than the work demanded by an infant.
Many times nursing is just … nursing. Something I can do while making dinner one-handed, supervising the games of older kids, typing on the computer, or talking on the phone.
But when I really stop to think about it, it is a time of beauty whether I stop to acknowledge it or not.
A sunrise is no less beautiful because I see it rarely – in its existence it is something stunning, fleeting and precious.
In my reasoning, nursing is not only practical but also unique. I have never known the stress of listening to the baby’s wail while warming a bottle or fumbling with bottle caps at night, I’ve never had the added expense of formula. Instead, breastfeeding has provided me with a space where I can get a glimpse of eternity in my child’s face. This is the time when I can drink the moment in and saturate my innards with satisfaction.