When I first had Grace, I was petrified to feed her in front of anyone. Embarrassed. Someone might see me!!!!!!! feeding my child, the Heavens forbid. I remember going to the French Quarter with Will and my in-laws, and instead of sitting on a bench, I went back to the car. I would retreat into our bedroom to feed her (and then nap!). But then, something changed.
I'm not quite sure what it was - maybe NOLA life, where we went wherever, and when Grace had to eat, she ate. I wasn't going to stay home when we lived in a super awesome area of the city, prime for exploration and walks. Maybe I realized how silly it is to cover up a child's face while she was eating, when, instead, you two could be staring lovingly at each other (like at home). Maybe it was me just getting comfortable having larger boobs - small girls to major ladies once my milk came in after Gracie was born was a definite transition. (Word to the wise: ouch. A lotta pain and stretch marks. Then, okay.)
Also: articles I read. I can't link to them, because they were read in passing. But the realization that the sexualization of breasts is an anti-woman lie. Breasts are not a sexual organ. Breasts provide nutrient-dense liquid to feed my child. Hey everyone! I grew this baby! And I can feed her! WITH MY BODY.
I get it. This power overwhelmeth. Even this summer, I was at a party and asked by a relative to cover up because there were men in the room. In fact, all males present were relatives. I declined. I was not full uncovered, and Laura's head blocked anything remotely interesting. I was not immodest or inappropriate - on the contrary, I was nurturing and loving my child.
My Catholic faith has really guided me in breastfeeding as well. The Church, a mother herself, Our Lady of Guatemala, Our Lady of La Leche... The best connection I ever read about was breastfeeding, however, was its parallels to the Eucharist -- excerpt from Lillian at Hilltop Diaries:
When Simon was a few months old, an acquaintance asked if I was breastfeeding. When I responded in the affirmative she said, "I knew it! I could tell by the way he looks so adoringly at you. He’s like ‘You’re all I need, Mom.’"
Perhaps this is what Jesus had in mind for the Eucharist. Through the breaking of the bread, God invites us into the nursing relationship: the meeting of all our needs.
I think about the cracked nipples and the itchy thrush, the aches and fevers of mastitis, the midnight trek across the house to feed a crying baby, fatigued to the point of nausea: "This is my body, broken for you.”
I think about the times I missed out because of the chore it was keeping Simon fed, the chained-up feeling of pumping at work, the moments when I wish desperately for a break: “Poured out for you and for many..."
I think about God, who has given me these children and the means to sustain them, who is present in the Eucharist and in my nursing chair, who by these rituals invites me to participate in His life-giving power: “Do this, in remembrance of Me.”
So, happy World Breastfeeding Week! This is the only picture I can find of me breastfeeding Grace; she is probably 8 going on 9 months.
But I have plenty of post-feeding pictures... all grainy, because breastfeeding mamas don't care. We just like capturing the times when our babies were so close with us.
And some of this:
What you're seeing here are not polished, especially attractive photos... but what I hope you're also seeing is the kind of relationship built on closeness.
And now, my newest satisfied customer.
I love the opportunity to feed and love my girls.
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