Monday, November 29, 2010
Today, a baby was born. He arrived between 2 and 3 p.m., and before 4 o'clock, his mother sent me a text message:
Hi diana. We had the baby! do you have time to come to the hospital to help with breast feeding?
The baby's father is a co-worker of mine, since maybe 4 years ago. I've met his wife exactly 5 times ... but I'm "the breastfeeding lady." I've helped mothers and babies as a volunteer since 2005, and in 2009 became a board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC). I don't do a lot of mother-baby helping these days, because my own family and my full-time job as a clarinet player keep me hopping. I do write articles about breastfeeding and I present educational sessions at conferences about breastfeeding, and the young families know me not so much anymore as a clarinet player. They know I'm the breastfeeding lady, the baby whisperer, "all things mom."
I was so excited to go see this new family, with a baby boy just hours old. I tell all of the pregnant families in my workplace "Please, call me! I'm happy to help you. It's so much easier to avoid a problem than to fix one, so call me early!" I was thrilled to receive the text message asking me to visit.
The new parents were happy to see me. Mother was just radiant, despite her exhaustion. She held her sleeping loaf of love in her arms against her naked chest. I was so happy to see that she wasn't worried about being modest, and she was allowing her baby full access to her skin, her warmth, and her scent. Father was as content as I had ever seen him ... and visibly impressed with what his wife had just done in bringing forth this sweet baby boy.
I spent time with them, talking about breastfeeding, reminding them of normal newborn behaviors, and encouraging them to trust their instincts. When it came time to feed the baby, mother wanted my hands on deck. I offered as little assistance as I could, instead encouraging mother to relax and let her baby explore his new world, the outside of her body instead of the inside, where he had lived for nearly 40 weeks. When he latched onto her, she looked up at me. "I'm going to cry now," she announced. I told her to stop looking at me and gaze at her sweet baby ... enjoy him. I reminded her that she had nursed her baby on her own, and could do so again after I left.
Nearly 8 years ago, my own brand-new family took up residence on that same ward, just two doors down from where I spent time this evening. There is part of me that misses my own newborn baby days, those magical moments in that baby bubble. Tonight, I felt immensely blessed and thankful to have been invited into the new family's sacred space.