It’s more than just a form of sustenance, although I suppose one could just reduce it to that. It’s more than just feeding the baby, although the baby does eat. It’s more than just giving the baby what she needs, although nursing does accomplish that as well. It’s more than just the perfect food, although based on Brielle’s beautiful belly rolls and thickness of thigh, it definitely is doing her good. It’s even more than just bonding, although my children are without a doubt bonded to me.
Nursing. Breastfeeding. Lactation. Suckling. None of these names even begin to capture what nursing really is. I’m not sure I even know what it is, and I love it, and have been a nursing mom, for so far, two years.
It is moments. It is a beauty. It’s a pause in the day. I’m forced to sit down, relax, even put my feet up and enjoy my baby. Of course, as I’m getting to be quite the pro at one handed typing, I quite often fall into the trap of multitasking while nursing. I attempt, however, to take the time to admire the curve of her ear, the lushness of her lashes, the pink of her cheek, the softness of the hair, the bow of her lip, the blondness of her brow and softness of her skin. Although it still so often feels like I’m wasting time, doing nothing but marveling at this perfection of His creation, I wouldn’t otherwise even sit still for long enough to once again be mesmerized by her heartbeat, her sigh, her tosses and noises, the way she strokes my belly with her free hand, how she wiggles in closer to her safe haven, nestles in to her mama.
Sometimes, Brielle just wants a quick snack. In which case, she’ll nurse briefly, pull off, catch my eye and grin ear to ear, proudly displaying her milky chin and two tiny teeth. She’ll crow delightedly and giggle, cooing at me, reveling in this shared moment of undivided attention. Other times, she’s famished. She’ll fuss and fuss. When I hold her in the sideways latch on position, she’ll stop, release the tension from her body, and wait for me to get her meal on. She stares fixedly at me, while I ready myself. When she’s done, she’ll pull off in a milk coma, drugged with the substance that God created in me to be able to give to her. Still other times, she’ll just want help falling asleep. She’ll nurse for a few minutes, sigh contentedly, snuggle even closer to me, and feeling warm, safe and satisfied, drift off to dreamland without a care in the world. There are times when she needs a quick comfort. She’ll have tipped over and bumped her head and I can stop the crying in two shakes of a lamb’s tail just by letting her nurse immediately.
Nursing the way I do takes a lot of time and dedication. She doesn’t take a bottle, or a pacifier. She naps on me, so she can nurse at will, and sleep long and deeply. I can’t leave her for more than a few hours. She is at my side, or in the wrap, or at my feet almost every minute of the day. She sleeps at night ‘nuggled into the crook of my arm. It’s hard to have to say no to things I want to do because I can’t leave the baby. Our culture doesn’t allow for mamas and their babies to be together all the time. And yet, and yet, I’m glad I’ve made this choice to ecologically breastfeed. I’m glad Brielle wants to use me as a pacifier. I’m glad I can nurse, because I love it!