Nursing BabyOne was difficult for me, physically and psychologically. While the mechanical difficulties were trifling compared to what others have experienced, they were sufficient and persistent enough to make me regularly threaten (albeit emptily) to give over the whole endeavor. I also felt quite keenly what I perceived at the time to be the solitary burden of the experience and the restrictions it placed on my activities and schedule (said baby being averse to a bottle--which was a terrible nuisance anyhow-- and quite attached to nursing on a schedule—his schedule). People would sometimes reference the “magical moments” of breastfeeding and I would do my best to smile and nod, hoping no one noticed that a mere earthling had accidentally landed on Planet La Leche League.
Here’s the thing about breastfeeding: No one else can do it for you. When your infant nursling is hungry, you must feed it. It doesn’t matter if you yourself are hungry, or tired, or in a very inconvenient public place, or in the very crucial middle of making supper. You must stop what you are doing and feed the baby. And if this is your first baby, or if the baby is newish, or you are shyish, even the “publicity” of a room containing friends and relatives may be too public for you, and you must withdraw to the solitary confinement and possibly painful appeasement of an impatient, ungrateful guzzler. (And if you are at times employed away from the baby, you must still make provision to feed the baby, likely necessitating that your breaks are consumed by quality time with uncomfortable apparatus.)
But! Here’s the thing about breastfeeding, that over the course of three subsequent nurslings, I’ve come to discover: No one else can do it for you. No one else gets to see that contented curve of her cheek, just so, in the moonlight. For you alone is reserved that first amazed look when, at several weeks of age, she finally becomes aware that she is not exactly dining solo: “Hey! You’re here too?! ” You get to see the chubby legs kick in excited anticipation of a satisfying meal. Yours are the little sideways glances and quick grins between gulps. When she’s tired or strung-out and no one else can comfort her, you can have her nestling in shuddering contentment within seconds. If you feel like she’s been passed around enough at a family gathering, or if you need a break from the family gathering, you can plead baby’s nutritional needs and seek a quiet corner of escape.
No one else can do it for you. As with so much of motherhood in this mortal vale, the burden is joy; and the joy, burden. Some days, the balance tips toward joy, and some weeks, the burden seems likely to break the balance altogether. Often, it’s just pretty darn hard to tell the difference, but grace gives us enough glimpses to keep us going until the Day when things are finally sorted out for good. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!