I am exhausted. My baby is sick. Fevered, fussy, can't put her down--nursing, nursing, nursing. She is sleeping in my arms, her hair matted to her forehead with perspiration--every once in a while she whimpers softly. Poor baby, poor me. I shuffle off to the bedroom and look longingly at the cool cotton sheets. It would be so nice to lay down with her there. She'll keep sleeping as long as she's close to me. If I nurse her when she stirs, she'll drift back off to sleep. She needs lots of my milk today to keep her hydrated, to provide the antibodies she needs to recover from her sickness. I need to stay well to care for her and I know that if I can just rest awhile, I will feel better.
I remember my La Leche League friend, a seasoned mother, who sleeps close to her babies. She has told me ways to make sharing sleep safe--in fact, she showed me the list of do's and don'ts in her copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and Sweet Sleep. I think of her wise mothering advice now, as I finally give in, and sink into the comfort of our big bed. Oh, how good it feels to lie here, my sweet baby's breath soft against my arm, as she nestles in close. She sighs contentedly in her sleep. I close my eyes and feel my body move toward rest. I don't know how much time has passed but I feel her root for my nipple, and even before she has opened her eyes, I turn toward her, pulling her to my breast. She latches, opens her eyes briefly and looks deeply into mine. She sucks rhythmically, sometimes in flutters, sometimes drawing deeply, and soon we are both asleep, comforted by the presence of one another.
Tomorrow will be a new day; I will be rested, my baby will feel better, but most of all, I will know that I kept her close when she needed me most. She did not have to look far to find me, nor did she need to cry. Now I understand what my friend, the seasoned mother, explained to me; my breast is like an umbilical cord outside of my body. My sweet baby girl and I are still connected, through breastfeeding, and we need not be apart until we are ready.
By Lenore, LLL Leader
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