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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Nourishment


At the doctor’s office, I quickly stripped Noelle down to the nude (as is required for each weight check) and trotted up to the scales with a bright smile. Nurse Debbie stood back and watched as the dial whirled around. I looked away, wanting to heighten the anticipation. Weight checks are my favorite part of the doctors visits, because it's the surest way to see your baby grow.

“I’ll have to give you sixteen pounds on the nose,” Nurse Debbie leaned over and tapped Noelle on the nose.

“What?!” I thought. “That’s not right.” I glanced down to check for myself, and sure enough the black needle hovered over the numbers. I stood stunned. My daughter hadn’t even gained one pound in three months. In an instant, she dropped from the fiftieth percentile to the tenth percentile in weight, all with a single stroke of Nurse Debbie’s pen.

Debbie turned back to the patient room and said over her shoulder, “Dr. Goldin’s not going to like that.”

In the moments between Nurse Debbie’s weight check and Dr. Goldin’s arrival, I paced the patient room holding Noelle close to my chest. I could feel the panic rising up inside me. Noelle jabbered and squirmed happily in my arms. She had no idea the glacier of emotion pushing it’s way through the surface of my composure.

When Dr. Goldin came she asked me how many times a day I was feeding Noelle and what I had been feeding her. I told her that I nursed Noelle multiple times and fed her three square meals of solids.

"It must be your breast milk," she said, scribbling some notes for me. I peered over her shoulder and watched as the list of foods I was now supposed to give my daughter grew longer: egg yolks, ground beef, vitamins with iron. But her words echoed in my thoughts - my breast milk wasn't enough.

Nothing unhinges a mother more than the thought that she is not feeding her baby enough. Whether it be nursing, bottles, or solids. Mothers cultivate life, and in the most literal way, food equals life.

For this reason, the most traumatic part of being whisked away to the ER during the second week of Noelle’s life was not that I was bleeding severely, or the ambulance ride, or that my husband was working to keep me conscious. The most traumatic part was having to tell Dwayne to take Noelle to our friends’ house because I knew I couldn’t feed her.

I recently spoke with a vibrant friend who has beaten cancer. I can’t tell you the stage or kind. I can only tell you that she was in the hospital many days, and underwent months of chemotherapy. She shared with me that the most traumatic part of that entire experience was not necessarily throwing up, or loosing her hair, but it was not being able to get out of bed and give her children cereal when they were hungry. That weakness haunts her to this day, even as she stands fully recovered in her kitchen, bright eyed and full of energy.

The other morning, I was feeling particularly weary and tense, so I took a bath. I let myself relax into the warmth. Immediately, my milk let down. Tiny pearls of milk dropped into the water and curled out into white wisps. Patterns of liquid lace.

Was there ever a moment when the life giving attributes of a woman were more evident? Just when she lets go, just as she releases all inhibitions, the gift of nourishment comes trickling out.

8 Comments:

Blogger Drew and Erika Hettinger said...

You didn't tell us what Dr. Goldin said! :-)

But, at some point, you know that Noelle was going to drop into the 10th percentile because YOU are in someplace close to that yourself...

You are a good mommy...don't let the scale be the only measure!

-E

1:20 PM  
Blogger Christin said...

E - fixed it! :-) That was a key part of the story!

12:33 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

captivating...



many thanks

~R

9:57 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

a blog you might like...

www.tonywoodlief.com

i enjoy your thought process and style of writing

~R

6:31 AM  
Blogger Christin said...

Rob, thanks for the link to tony woodlief. That is good stuff! I really enjoy it!

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Rob said...

Hi Christin, after reading your june 26th post and introducing you to Tonywoodlief, I now share this link with you http://www.tonywoodlief.com/caroline/

I have been humbled to know her story...and it has been a great source of comfort for me for many reasons. I think I need to share this with you because of the great depth of compassion and love you have expressed for your family on this site. I have been a reader of Tony for many years and Carolines' story gives me great respect for him and his ability to love his family..it helps me love mine more fiercely as well.
Regards, Rob

7:14 PM  
Blogger Christin said...

Rob, how did you find Tony Woodlief? I agree Caroline's story is deeply moving and makes me cherish each moment with my daughter.

Once again, thank you for sharing.

7:12 AM  
Anonymous Rob said...

I used to follow Susanna Cornett "cutonthebias" "http://bias.blogfodder.net/ she had a link to Tony. I enjoy following links from like minded people. I have found some great words that way...

I found your site by looking for Jello Cake recipe...ha ! It's a longer story of course.
~R

9:56 AM  

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