This week marks the four-month anniversary, of sorts, with my fourth employer, of sorts. He’s a demanding boss and it is a 24/7 kind of job, but I cannot think of anything I’d rather be doing than this. And there is one particular task he requests of me, every 2-3 hours during the day (and blessedly – usually – much, much longer in between at night), that has been the ultimate task for me for the last six-and-a-half years.
Of course I am not talking about anything other than nursing all four of my sweet babes.
Now, in no way am I trying to flame the Mommy War fires here (please, can we just put all the judgement aside?) by saying my choice is best. But breastfeeding has been my choice from the very get-go and thankfully I have been able to follow through with that desire, even when the growth spurts and challenges (can you say thrush x4?!) reared their crazy heads.
A growth spurt caused my littlest Main Guy to wake me, oddly and unfortunately, at 3 a.m. the other night. As we sat in the dim light and nursed, him already half asleep again and me pretty darn bleary-eyed as well, I marveled at how big he suddenly seemed in my lap and how I can’t believe how quickly his first four months have gone.
Perhaps that is why, after we returned later in the week from his four-month well check visit with the doctor, I released him from his car seat with an almost frantic urge to sit and nurse away his discomfort from shots and my own from the fact that my (possibly last) little babe is no longer quite so little.
Of course, even when all is going well and everyone is healthy, breastfeeding a baby while three other Littles roam the house is another challenge entirely. My older three seem to know that the minute my seat hits the rocking chair, it is the perfect time for all chaos (and snack requests and potty incidents) to break loose. They also know that Mama is pretty likely to agree to just “five more minutes” of screen time on our lovely collection of hand-me-down electronic devices to complete a feeding in semi-peace.
Such were the views in my living room after school on the day of the appointment: one child in my lap, the other three cuddled up on the three-couch, each with their own device. And as I sat there in my slightly squeaky but still soft and inviting rocker, watching this scene unfold, my mind wandered back to connection.
With the baby, connection is easy. He needs to eat (my job). He needs to be changed (my job until the hubs gets home). He needs to be picked up and carried each time we move about the house (good heavens, a grownups only job for sure!). He and I come back together continually.
With the older three, that same physical connection, anyway, gets harder to come by with each passing month (day?). As they run and zip about at play or leave for part/all of the day for school, I do not get the same opportunity to pull close and breathe them in like I do each time I sit down to breastfeed the youngest. And while I could never handle it if each of them actually demanded 20-30 minutes of my time and semi-undivded attention (just ask my 4th; I am always hollering at someone else as he nurses) every few hours of every single day, I do wish there was a more immediate way to keep them close and let them know that my arms and lap are always open for business, so to speak.
While I will never claim that (any part of??) it is easy, or that I even remotely know what I am doing, I will forever believe this job – this mama’s world of feeding, raising, connecting with my children – is my life’s most important work.