Category Archives: nursing

A controversial announcement:

elephants-1081749_1280People are mammals!!!  I know this is a shocking fact.  I’m sorry to just go ahead and announce it like that with no warning, just all bold and up-front like that.  Take a minute . . . catch your breath . . . let it sink in.  I know it’s a difficult pill to swallow, learning such an earth-shattering truth as that.

Are you breathing again?  Are you OK?  Are you going to make it?  Good.

I know it’s shocking.  I do.  How do I know it’s shocking?  Because for the last several months my Facebook news feed is full of links to magazines and news sources reporting the astonishing news that human celebrities are–get this!–feeding their live-birthed young with their mammary glands!!  I know!  Knock-me-over-with-a-feather flabbergast!  I couldn’t believe it, either.  Beyonce!  Selma Blair!  Alicia Silverstone!  Allll mammals!  Who knew?!

Maybe it’s just them.  Maybe they’re some sort of mutant humans, having mammary glands that provide food and sustenance for their young like that.  Surely we can’t all be mammals?!  That can’t be true.

Just what do these women think they’re doing?!  Being mammals.  In public!  Do they not know that humans’ status as mammals is supposed to be kept under cover?  at home?  or, if not at home, firmly locked in a disgusting bathroom stall?  How dare these women flaunt their taxonomic class in public!!  They should be ashamed of themselves!

::sigh::  Nine weeks from now will mark 10 years since I first made use of my mammary glands for that which they were primarily designed.  I bonded with cows as I used a pump to leave food for my baby while I went to work.  I mooed and laughed and joked.  But it was difficult to feed my baby in front of anyone other than my immediate family.  I had to make the leap and remind myself that I am a mammal and this is how mammals feed their young.  I believe I was in elementary school when I learned about it:  mammals feed their young from their bodies, and I am a mammal, ergo, I will feed my young from my body.

By the time I birthed my third live young, I was so over the difficulties and challenges of trying to keep my mammalian class under wraps.  It’s just so hard!  I had places to go!  I had people to see!  Was I supposed to keep my two older children–a toddler and a very social five-year-old–trapped inside all the time, just so I could feed their baby sister?  Well that’d be quite the effective way to foster love and affection for the new family member.  Was I supposed to make my sweaty children eat under a blanket, even as they squirmed and struggled to get that blasted thing off of them?!  Oh, I was supposed to pump bottles and bring them with me, store them at a safe temperature and then warm them to the right temperature?  And for what, exactly?  So you wouldn’t have to be reminded that you, too, are a mammal?  I don’t like you enough to go through all that trouble.  I’m lazy.  And, it’s my right as an American to be lazy.  Look it up in the Constitution.  I’m sure it’s there somewhere.

I’m sorry.  Every time I try to take the whole thing seriously, and talk in real terms, I just head off the rails of extreme sarcasm.  Because I find the whole thing so absolutely ludicrous.  Mammal babies drink milk from their mothers.  That’s what they do.  All over the world, all the furry, live-birthing vertebrates in possession of mammary glands are feeding their young with said glands.  I have no patience for anybody wasting any time or energy thinking about where, when, how a mammal should be feeding her young.  Just as I have no patience for the people who think their meat magically appears on Styrofoam trays, wrapped in cling wrap.  But, I suppose, that’s a-whole-nother post.

By the time my third came along, do you know where was my absolute favorite place to feed her in public?  In a mall on a bench in front of Victoria’s Secret.  I sat facing these giant posters of scantily clad women in their underwear, their breasts of questionable (natural?) size squished and pushed up and hanging out, exposing most everything but areolae and nipples.  I sat there, feeding my baby as mammals do, baring no more flesh than skin on my sides, where my shirt came down to my waist somewhere near my elbow.**  I sat there with a look of “Go ‘head.  Say something.  I dare you.”  Fully prepared to point out the irony in one’s being offended by the sight of my feeding my young, but not by the pictures of mostly-naked, air-brushed, super-human-sized women across from me, who were selling underwear with sex.  Or sex with underwear.  I’m never really sure what, exactly, Victoria’s Secret is selling . . .

The good news is I never really ran into any problems feeding my babies in public.  For that I am grateful.  But not all women can say that.  And not all women can say they feel comfortable even trying, lest they do cause offense.  And these poor celebrity mammals!  They are treated as animals in zoos!  Well, worse.  Because most people don’t mock the mammals in zoos who are doing what it is mammal mothers do.

Mammalian  mothers should not have to give a second thought to feeding their young.  They just shouldn’t.  The first time a mammal feeds her young while outside of her cozy den should not be Facebook status material, it certainly shouldn’t be Time magazine story!  It should not be a blip on a radar screen anywhere.  It’s ludicrous.  So ludicrous, even I felt the need to blog about it.  And I don’t normally blog about such controversial things.  You know.  As controversial as announcing that humans are mammals.

One of the comments on one of the articles about one of the mammalian celebrities said something along the lines of, “What am I supposed to tell my 7-year-old daughter when we’re forced to see a woman with a baby at her breast?!”  Might I suggest you tell your 7-year-old daughter that she’s a mammal.  Catch her up with the rest of the elementary school students.

**I did do all I could to keep that certainly offensive side-skin from showing, my apologies if you were subjected to a glint of my muffin top–of course, you could see all the muffin tops you want on the teenaged girls with low-cut jeans and tight fitting tee-shirts.

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Filed under being The Mommy, nursing

You Go. I’ll take care of this., part I

Isaiah 49:

14 But Zion said, “the LORD has forsaken me,
And the Lord has forgotten me.”
15 “Can a woman forget her nursing Child
And have no compassion on the son of her womb
Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.
16 Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before me.”

Psalm 131:

1 O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
2 Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
3 O Israel, hope in the LORD
From this time forth and forever

Matthew 6:

25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

These were the three lectionary passages for a Sunday last May when I was serving as pulpit supply at a nearby church. Immediately after reading the three texts, my mind began to spin, placing all three passages together quite easily. First, there was the passage from Isaiah: “Zion (Israel) said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me’.” In response the Lord compares himself to a nursing mother, telling Zion that a nursing mother is more likely to forget her child than the Lord is to forget his own. Now, Isaiah’s audience would not have been so far removed from the nursing image as we in our modern, Western culture might be, so let me help flesh out this reality for you.

Anyone who has nursed or has known well someone who has, knows how next to impossible it is for a nursing mother to forget her child. A nursing mother’s ability or inability to forget her nursling is not simply a function of how much she loves her child, or how good a mother she is. No, there’s a lot more to it than that. A nursing mother can’t forget her nursing child because her body won’t let her. Her body remembers for her. If she is absent from her child for a time longer than they would normally go between nursings, a mother’s body tells her quite plainly, quite full-ly, and sometimes even quite pain-full-ly that her child is missing. A mother who has to spend extra, unexpected time away from her young nursling is just as desperate to reunite with her baby as he is with her.

This is the kind of love and connection God is speaking of here. God will not forget his own, he cannot forget his own. In fact it’s even easier for a nursing mother to forget her nursling, and that is a physical impossibility. Isaiah 49 assures Zion, and by extension us, in no uncertain terms, that we will not be forgotten by our Lord. He will remember us, he will remain faithful to us, and is faithful to us, even when we have forgotten him.

In Psalm 131, David speaks of resting content in the Lord, as a weaned child with his mother. A weaned child has a calm, a contentment, a security. Resting in the arms of the one who has provided all his needs until his needs were fulfilled, a weaned child rests, assured of continuing love and care, assured that the one who has met his needs of the past will continue to meet the needs that are to come.

The passage from Matthew, this excerpt from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, continues the Psalmist’s theme. David, calmed and content in the arms of the Lord, lives the life called for in Matthew 6:24-34. Not worrying about tomorrow, trusting God to provide for his needs as God provides for the lilies of the fields, David doesn’t have to worry about tomorrow. Nor do we.

So within about 15 minutes of reading the lectionary texts, I had that. Ok, I’m done, I figured. But that won’t take long to say, that’s hardly a full sermon. In fact, it’s only about 4 minutes’ worth. But then again, what more is there to say? God does not forget us, he remains with us, faithful to us, supplying our every need: food, shelter, clothing, giving us nothing to worry about. It’s all right there, spelled out so neatly, so easily.

But is that it? Really? As amazing as all that is, I think there’s still more to be learned from those three passages working together.

While it’s all very true, here, in this context, falling in the midst of the Sermon on the Mount as it does, this passage is saying far more than “Don’t worry, be happy.”

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Filed under Church Life, nursing, theologizing

I just love this . . .

So I nurse my babies to sleep. You’ve likely already caught on to it. With Isaac I was all quiet about it, fearing judgment from the “You must lay your baby down awake!!” camp. When Hannah was a baby I did all this reading on how babies are designed (well, the book says “evolved,” but I have no problem overlooking that when their conclusions are based on how babies presently operate), and I came to the conclusion that babies are made to fall asleep nursing, so who am I to argue with or work against God’s design? I suppose you could make the argument that their proclivity to fall asleep nursing is a consequence of the Fall, but good luck with that. The fact of the matter is there are all sorts of hormonal things going on–for mama and baby–that put a baby to sleep at the breast. Sounds like design to me. Actually, it sounds like a gift to me.

So, I’m no longer quiet about my nursing-to-sleep habit. It’s easy. It’s nice and cozy. (it allows for lots of internet surfing while NAKing) It’s effective. And, did I mention it’s easy? You just have to sit there and hold a warm, cozy, mama-lovin’ creature, breathing deeply in a darkened room. Sigh. Heaven.

There’s a moment in this nursing to sleep thing that I absolutely love. Isaac was and Ruth is great at it. Hannah with all her refluxy issues, not so much. The baby or toddler (and, who are we kidding, a toddler is a baby. But that’s a whole nother post.) falls off to blissful sleep, nursing away. You slip her off and pick her up. She stirs a bit, but she’s flat-out asleep. You gently lay her down in her crib. And then she does it. The sweetest thing. She rolls over onto her belly, sticking her diapered bottom straight up in the air. In our house it’s accompanied by scrunching up a blanky underneath the belly. Curled in a hump, blissful sleeep. Sigh. So nice. So so very nice. Look. Isn’t it nice?

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Filed under nursing, Ruth, sleeping