Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Womanly Art...

Breast-feeding is a hot-button issue. It seems that everyone these days has a strong opinion about it. My experience with breast-feeding has been surprisingly varied. My first go-around was rough. With McKay I had no idea what I was doing. I figured it would be simple but it wasn't. I cracked, bled and had 6 cases of mastitis within the first three months. I almost gave the whole thing up but was saved by using a shield. From about 6 months on things worked well and I nursed McKay well past his year birthday.

Benson was another story entirely. By week three things were downright gory. At every feeding the fissures seems to deepen and I sometimes wondered if my baby was getting more milk or blood. My toes curled at every feeding and by two months I was crying at every feeding. It was awful. What I didn't realize was that both Benson and I had a bad case of thrush which was keeping the wounds open. Once we realized it and treated it, the cracks were so deep there was nothing to be done. I couldn't stand the pain any longer and we switched to formula.

After my experience with Benson, when I was 8 months pregnant with Lily I started having mini panic attacks at the thought of breast-feeding. I was dreading I so much that I almost decided to forgo it completely. However, I thought I ought to at least try, so Lily and I made a go of it. The beginning wasn't perfect but with limited use of a shield and some amazing healing pads called Ameda ComfortGel Hydrogel Pads, we were actually pretty successful.

Lily has been my best nurser thus far. Unlike the boys, Lily won't drink formula at all. She will hardly take a bottle of pumped milk. This experience with breastfeeding has been very positive and has allowed some insights into the beauty of it.

I think breast-feeding is a miracle and a mercy. A loving Heavenly Father has a perfect plan for his children, even from their birth. How beautiful that an infant whose only knowledge of the world is the mother who gave it life would then be fed (nearly constantly at first) by that same most familiar and comforting person. What comfort that must give a tiny baby in a big frightening world to be held by his mother and still connect to her in some way by being fed in her arms. Interesting too that the breast is located next to the heart. As a mother draws her baby close for food, the baby is comforted by that familiar heartbeat whose rhythm she knows so well.

Breast-feeding requires a mother to hold her baby. With three small children to care for, that requirement has been such a blessing. Because my baby needs food only I can give, I must stop and hold her. I have loved those mandatory moments. We retreat and both of us receive nourishment. Hers literal, mine spiritual as I hold and ponder on this precious person in my arms and entrusted to my care.

How poetic that each day begins and ends with my baby and I, heart to heart. Perhaps my favorite time of the day is dusk when I feed Lily for the last time. She eats and relaxes into a gentle sleep while I hold her and  gaze at the evening light warming her perfect face. It is a picture I never tire of and one I thank Heavenly Father for every night.

I believe it is by Divine design that we nourish our children in our arms and near our hearts. And while breast-feeding will end, I look forward to the rest of her life as I nurture my baby in other ways. I will always be grateful that we began in this special way.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Look out world, here she comes

It's so interesting to watch. Each little Spirit approaches life in their own way. These last few weeks with Lily have been so interesting as she is beginning to gain her first independence. As stated previously, it has been exciting but really sad as her mother to watch her change so rapidly. But she is changing! She has been absolutely the sweetest baby--hardly ever a fuss or complaint. However, as she is beginning to learn to crawl and now to stand, we are seeing a strength in Lily we didn't know was there. 
Both our boys have been pretty tentative and careful about crawling and walking. They seemed to take their time and "warm up" to the idea. Not Lily! Once this girl discovers something, she sticks with it. Her cute little face is completely covered in bruises because she keeps standing up, falling down (usually hitting her head in the process), and then getting right back up to try again. You can't keep her down! 
She also LOVES to eat. Now that she has discovered eating, she wants to try everything. If it can be pulled off the floor, she's determined to eat it (this includes the carpet). 
Yesterday I was in the other room while Benson was playing play dough. When I came back in he had thrown it all over the floor. There was Lily crawling as fast as she could from crumb to crumb, gobbling them up! When I grabbed the broom and started sweeping them up, she was there right next to me, trying to get a few more bites in before they were gone.