A Single Stream of Breastmilk

If you’ve heard this one before, sit back and reminisce with me for a minute ….

Picture this, diner on Avenue A in the East Village, NYC.  Myself,  dear husband, two and a half year old dear daughter and 6 month old dear son.  It’s mid-winter.  We’re bundled up, we’ve been out all day doing errands on a Sunday and now we’re hungry. It’s about 3:30, so it’s a late lunch, early dinner.  Our timing for meals and errands was all off and here we are, moods are shifting, food is necessary, campers are unhappy.  We head into the diner and are seated in a circular booth.  We place an order and wait.

I have a huge head ache from lack of food and schlepping around.  Dh is grumpy. Layers of clothes, scarves and winter gear is falling all over and under the table.  Baby is crying, needing to nurse.  I feel ugly, matted, layered, hair bothering me all over the place from winter hat head, cheeks sore and chapped from the cold.  And two and a half year old! Ugh, she’s sliding around on the fake-leather booth, turning us all into a static electricity science experiment, and suddenly – the water, on the floor, spilled.  Of course.

I’m frazzled, tired, overwhelmed, cranky, hungry, feeling all alone and cramped in the smallest, most over-crowded, diner in the East Village.

I go to pick up my son to nurse him before I offer him some ripe banana I had with me …. and I see them coming in from outside.

I see a young couple, in hip winter clothes, early 20’s.  They both stomp out cigarettes and exhale into the crisp winter air just before they head into the diner.  He’s carrying the Sunday Times under his arm.  The WHOLE Sunday Times.  They sit on stools at the bar and lean in to one another, her arm stroking his back as they snuggle together glancing at the menu.  They kiss, touch noses, smile and begin to thumb through sections of The Times deciding what they’d like to read.  There are no words between them.  It is a silent dance, a ritual of togetherness and Sunday leisure.  They sip their coffee, they open up sections on culture and arts and read about their world in calm, comfortable bliss.

I feel the longing rise in me.  I feel the tears come to my eyes.  I want to cry and rage for what I’ve lost, what I’d said good bye to.  I see in them what I miss in myself.  I see they’ve just woken up.  It’s 3pm and they rolled out of bed less than an hour ago.  They only went to bed less than 12 hours ago!  They’d been out all night at some great bar until 3am.  They had great sex and multiple orgasms from 4am straight through to noon no doubt.  They took a long hot shower together and kissed and caressed throughout.  They wordlessly smiled and set off to enjoy their regular Sunday diner time together.  They bought the Sunday paper and smoked a few Marlboro Lights on their winter wonderland walk over.  Then they sat down at the bar to actually read the paper … and can linger over coffee and French toast!

And then they’d go home, probably have more sex, read more paper, take a nap …

But then, I hear the giggle.  It stirred me from my gray dream of being that young couple.  I look down at my sweet nursling and see his huge eyes looking up at me.  With the chubby fingers of a lusciously breastfed babe, he reaches up to me and gently takes hold of my chin.  I offer him my lips and pretend to chomp on his hand, “ah, num, num, num …”  and kiss his sweet fingers.

And he giggles, and he giggles, and giggles!  His sister leans in and kisses him on the forehead, a huge part of the tender moment.  His mouth, still latched on, nipple securely, and safely held in place, he smiles.  And there it is … a single little stream of breastmilk drips from is mouth, down his cheek as he grins up at his mama, the way only babies do when they lock gazes with the thing they love more than anything on the planet.  This place, this tender place – where he’d rather be more than any other place in the world … in mamas arms, at her breast, loving, playing, cooing, smiling.

In that moment, with that stream of breastmilk, I see it – the precious elixir of life, that golden healing nectar that has come from my breast, my heart, my soul … I want to weep even more now.  Not for what I’ve lost, but what I’ve gained.  What I’ve become.  I’ve become a Warrior Mother, who can weather a cold winter, exhaustion, stress and the ongoing unpredictable change of motherhood … and still feed a tiny human being in a bountiful, loving way so he’s rosy and cheeky and happy.

All the coffee and sex and sleeping late and downtown bars … yeah, those are wonderful great things in our lives, and I actively try to carve out that time for myself and dh.  But the moments that we bring our babes to our breasts and give of ourselves so completely, well, those moments can change the world and our hearts for ever.

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  One thought on “A Single Stream of Breastmilk

  1. Jen
    February 17, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful story with us! It is so beautifully written, too. I think you really captured a lot of emotions that moms experience, especially nursing moms.

  2. February 17, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Sharing moments so that we all can feel normal and not alone on this “mother trip” is what it’s all about. I’m so glad you liked it, Jen! Thanks so much for saying so! xoxo

  3. February 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful post.

  4. February 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    What an emotional piece. We all sometimes long for the road not taken, or the road once taken, but you know you are heading in the right direction when you can look at those moments fondly while enjoying and feeling so fulfilled in the present.

  5. February 18, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Beautiful. Just beautiful.

  6. February 18, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    What a beautiful story! It’s all so true … thank you for reminding me that it is OK to crave what I gave up, its only natural but its all so worth it – what I have gained is incomparable!

    Beautifully written and incredibly touching … thank you!

  7. February 18, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Thank you for reminding me!

  8. February 18, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    This. is. beauty. personified. xox

  9. February 18, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    What a beautiful post! I came across this after seeing the link on Elita’s blog. I hope you don’t mind that I shared it on the Facebook page for my workplace. There’s been a steady stream of positive comments about it! Thanks for writing what so many of us have felt.

    • February 18, 2011 at 11:23 pm

      I’m overwhelmed by the responses here. Thank you all so much. It was such a vivid memory for me, I can still taste the winter smell in the air (city street salt, wet snow, cold day, dry diner room, ya know?). I’ve shared the memory in my LLL meetings, but finally have put it down in writing. I think we all need to share stories as we grow as mothers – it keeps us feeling normal and from feeling isolated. @ Sara – please, yes, feel free to share and forward. It’s a pretty special feeling to know your personal story might might help some one else feel pretty wonderful about her mothering choices!
      peace ~
      deirdre (Breastfeeding Arts)

  10. Deanna Kastrinos
    February 18, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    And I feel wistful every time I see young parents, so in love and connected with their chubby little babies. Full of promise and future.

  11. Rebekah
    February 19, 2011 at 1:07 am

    Thank you for writing this so beautifully. You expressed this so perfectly. I’m living my dream with my nurslings. Yeah, I want that time with just myself or just my husband, but I’d never give this up. Those perfect, cuddly moments. The cuddling happens less, or more intermittent with my preschooler but to receive their love and witness their love for eachother is the greatest blessing.

  12. StorkStories
    February 19, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Gorgeous vivid story. Thank you so much for sharing! I remember that nursling so many years ago……

  13. Erica
    February 23, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Love it.

  14. JandJ
    February 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    I found myself crying at how perfectly you put this scenerio into words. I felt along with you the resentment of the couple, and then oddly the wondorous joy of having your child at your chest. So precious! Thank you for sharing!

  15. March 4, 2011 at 2:18 am

    Visiting from Blacktating today and so glad! What an insightful and true moment. As someone who had a long time with my husband pre-kids, I’ve so had those experiences where I long for the old life, and it’s so important to be reminded that what is here, now, is good, too. Different, but good.

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