(I wrote this a while ago, but we have lousy internet access at home, so am only now getting aorund to posting it!)
My original intent of this blog was to talk about the power that women, teachers, day care workers, and nannies have over changes in each subsequent generation. That’s because I started this blog before I became a mother! I do plan on discussing those things as well, but that is not my focus today.
I knew in part that motherhood would be challenging, tiring, and there would be a learning curve. Boy, was I underestimating moms! It is all of those things and more, but on steroids. I knew that I would learn things from my child, but I did not realize how profound, hard, and tiring these truths would be.
Following my surgery and hospitalization on Mother’s Day (you can read about that HERE), I had a lot of obstacles working against me. I was tired, on meds, in pain, and without my own mama! (She was out of state with my Papa for a conference). Captain ceased to sleep well. He had been getting up 2 or 3 times, but began waking anywhere from 5 to 11 times a night. He had always been a non-stop nurser. And all of the sudden, he stopped. Stopped what? Nursing. Eating. Being nourished.
There are a lot of things you can control in this world. A baby refusing to eat is not one of them. When I was in the hospital, I pumped around the clock. My mama fed Captain my milk via bottle. When I came back to him, there was a little hesitation, but he went back to nursing fairly well. One day, I was nursing him in my parent’s livingroom where I was convalescing, and Captain began to thrash around and grab at my nursing cover. I tried to latch him back on, but it was to no avail. He went insane with anger. Screaming, coughing, choking, spitting up, the whole nine! The next feeding, he latched well, and the tiniest little sound sent him into a similar frenzy. I thought perhaps he wasn’t feeling well. The next day, this continued. And the next, and the day after that… The only times I could get him to nurse for longer than 45 seconds was in his sleep or walking around. Even that was not foolproof. He would still get angry and push away. His nursing sessions continued to decline, as did his wet diaper count. At this point, it was time to call in the big guns! I called Great Starts, which is Kaiser’s lactation consulting help. I went in for an appointment, and sure enough, she confirmed what I had suspected. Captain was on a nursing strike.
Because I didn’t want him to prefer the bottle, I refused to give him one. I am stubborn too, and I knew that one of us would win, and it had to be me! This went on for 17 days, and then began to get better, slowly but surely. This was so very frustrating. A mother has no greater desire than to see her young baby thrive and grow. She wants to see him nourished and healthy. She knows what’s best for him. So when Captain pushed against me, screaming and flailing violently, every time it was feeding time, I was discouraged. I spent a lot of time crying, upset, and passing him off to my husband, The Milkman, and my dear sister, who was helping me with the baby while I healed.
I don’t know why babies go on nursing strikes, least of all, MY baby. The one who would nurse for an hour, take a 20 minute break and eat again for another 45 minutes every day beforehand. There is no real definitive answer as to why babies of this age go on a nursing strike, but, as it went on, I realized exactly why Captain decided to test me.
I began to look deeper, and I saw a picture, a truly heartbreaking one, of myself. God offers Himself to nourish me spiritually. He is the best thing for me. He nurses and cares for me, as I feed on His Words. He tirelessly tends to me when I am hungry, and patiently loves me while I grow. And then, just like little Captain, I get a little more independence, and one day, I think I know it all. I push against His loving arms, thinking I don’t need to eat. Thinking I am self-sufficient, all-knowing, and in need of no one but myself. I scream when I don’t get my way and I don’t even realize what I am doing. By the time I am starving, I have been so wrapped up in myself that I have forgotten how to listen, be nourished, and feed on God’s love. Thank God he does not put me down, let me scream, and leave me to myself! He picks me up, and actively teaches me how to come back to him.
I have been so struck by this reminder of my own infantile ways, and wanted to share, that I, with all my lofty experience and knowledge that I couldn’t wait to pass onto my son, have been schooled by a 3 month old on the Love of God.
Thank you for teaching me, little one, and Lord, hold me close.