Wednesday, June 23, 2010

When you learn it isn't about you ...

Nursing is a beautiful partnership between mother and child ....

Really?

That is so hard to believe in the early days of what seems more like a battle of wills than a beautifully synchronous process.

There are arms and legs and sharp little finernails everywhere and you feel like you are wrestling an octopus with little razor blades at the end of each of its appendages.

No matter the hold -- football, cradle, cross-cradle, side-lying -- you find yourself twisted like a pretzel, afraid to move or breathe for fear that your darling baby will lose his latch and you will once again have to reposition five pillows, readjust the nursing bra, soothe the crying, and somehow get your baby to once again latch on without bringing tears to your eyes.

And you're supposed to hold your breast to support it, and the baby, and storke his cheek with your finger to inititate rooting, and use your thumb to gently guide his chin down so his tongue comes forward and pull him to you and not the other way around.

And you wish you had a couple extra arms.

Inevitably, something isn't right and that delicate mouth starts to feel like a steel clamp every time your baby locks on.

So there you are, awkwardly holding your baby while a nurse leans into the mix, helping open the mouth, pushing the baby toward your breast, adjusting the latch.

And try, try again!

As if you didn't already feel crowded enough!

And she insists that your baby nurses every two hours, whether he wants to or not.

She comes back to check ... Did he latch on? How long did he nurse? Was he swallowing regularly?

A disapproving frown when you admit, it didn't seem like he ate much.

And you begin to feel as if she wonders if you are really trying.

Really?

And by the second or third child you should have this stuff mastered, right? It should be SO much easier to get started 'cause YOU know what you're doing this time around!

Nope.

That's just the thing that makes nursing the most difficult and amazing thing.

Because it's not just about you.

It's a relationship.

And you don't just jump in and know everything.

You learn it together.

You solider through those painful, teary early days because you believe in the promise of the days ahead.

You grin and bear it -- try, try again -- because you want it that badly.

You cry, your baby cries, your husband may even cry from sheer exhaustion.

And then one day you are sitting in the warmth of the morning sun, rocking your baby as he nurses, and your feel those tiny fingers brush against your side.

Such soft skin.

Gentle touch.

All yours.

He nurses with ease and you cuddle up to enjoy the gentle rhythm.

Stroking his soft, downy hair.

Looking into those adoring eyes.

His one and only love.

Soft murmurs of appreciation.

You can hardly bring to mind exactly how those early days felt.

It seems like it has always been this easy.

And you realize,

you did it.