Archive for June 9th, 2011

June 9, 2011

On Nursing

On the days when I was feeling sleep-deprived while carrying Jacob, my view on pregnancy looked something like this:

A little person is living inside of me, stealing my food, zapping my energy, and kicking me to boot.  Once it’s born—a process I don’t even want to think about—it will continue to feed off of me, relegating me to the sad life of a 24/7 cafeteria.

I haven’t seen the movie Aliens, but I was pretty sure I was living it.

Yes, pregnancy is exhausting, and labor and delivery are not the most comfortable situations a woman can find herself in, but there are joys in these experiences all the same.  Likewise, there are joys in nursing.  It may have taken me eight months to really appreciate them, and some of that may have to do with the imminent, though still distant issue of weaning, but finally I am here.

For someone who has always been physically modest and who has never had any serious medical conditions, using one’s body to sustain another life is rather overwhelming.  In my view, our society focuses on our minds, and sometimes our souls, as the defining characteristics of who we are.  Our bodies are simply vehicles to get us here or there, something practical but impartial to take us on the ride.

Becoming a mother has forced me to understand and appreciate my body in new ways.  I respect all that it is able to do, or rather all the fascinating capacities God has built in to it.  I find that when I get dressed and check to see how flat (or not so flat) my tummy looks post-partum, I am reminded that something so much more has happened there, and I’m not so critical anymore.

The same goes for nursing.  What was before a mysterious process that involved partially disrobing several times a day is now a special time to chill out, relax, and refocus.  I’ve read that there is a relaxing hormone that is released when a mother is nursing her child and I’ve definitely felt it.  In the first few weeks, that sometimes even made me feel lightheaded at the start of a nursing session.

Now, although my mind still does ramble sometimes, and it can be frustrating when I want to feed Jacob before we head out somewhere and he doesn’t want to eat, I appreciate these quiet times that we share.  Especially in the evenings, when he’s sleepy and clean from a bath, it’s as close as we get to snuggling.  I sing to him and gaze at his face, memorizing every detail so that I can think about him later in the evening when I’m still awake and starting to miss him.

Like so many things God has created, nursing—and pregnancy, and labor & delivery—seems like a crazy idea at first.  But with time, trust, and the right perspective, it turns out to be one of the most rewarding, encouraging, and literally life-giving things I could have ever imagined.

%d bloggers like this: