Friday, September 20, 2013

Comfort Food

When we speak up for a woman's right to nurse in public, we usually stick to the most important, basic need of the baby to be fed.

Nursing mothers know that breastfeeding is so much more than just food and physical health benefits.  Among other things, breastfeeding is a comfort for a child.  Whether they're tired, hurt, or overstimulated, breastfeeding is sometimes a cure-all.  But not just for baby.

Do you find nursing to be a comfort to you?  A moment to sit and find peace, soothing for frayed nerves, healing for a sad heart?

Last night my 16-year-old Yorkie mix couldn't breathe well as his heart began to give out on him. He held his nose in the air, breathing shallowly, rapidly.  I knew that the end was near, but hoped we might be able to keep him longer or at least ease his suffering.

By the time Adam had him at the after-hours emergency vet, our three sons were asleep.  I had stayed behind with them, waiting for Adam's call. 

After many questions and more tears, we decided to wake the boys and take them to the vet, where we said goodbye as Thurber fell asleep for the last time.

He was our first baby.  The snooze button on our biological clocks when we considered children in our early twenties, as I craved the mother-child connection I'd lost when my mother died of breast cancer months before.  He was so healing, our little dog.  Caring for him helped me to wade through my grief.

And now it's him I grieve.

This morning the air feels heavy, weighing on me, slowing my thoughts, trying to slow my feelings as shock fades and I realize repeatedly that no, the little noise I just heard in the other room isn't Thurber.  No, I needn't set out a plate of food.  No need to pay attention for a break in this rain to let him outside.  No need to worry that the baby will toddle over him and pat him too roughly.

The baby.  My last little boy, my sweet nursling.  He's lying across my nap, having nursed to sleep easily in a matter of minutes after the sleep he lost last night.  Every time this morning that he has nursed, to sleep just now and earlier even just for a sip, has been a comfort to me.  Each sweet snuggle, each moment of connection, I have breathed easier. 

It's not always like that, of course.  Sometimes I'm touched out, or so busy I don't want to stop every five minutes even for that quick sip.  But so often, and especially today, breastfeeding is a comfort not just for my baby, but also a comfort for me.

In labor with Bellybean.  Thurber curled
up at my back & he was like a little heating
pad, comforting me through contractions.

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