Nursing Me Back To Life​

We encourage you to take this opportunity to take a moment and view the Bigger Picture. Whatever that means to you. A moment where you recognized the role your faith plays in your everyday life. A moment where you take note of motherhood and the importance of what you are doing. A moment that made you stop and smell breathe in the bigness of it all.

We hope you’ll join us. Take a few moments. Think about your week, and pour however little or much onto a page. Then share. Tell us about your moment. Link up this week, grab our button, and share your Bigger Picture Moment. And while you’re at it, share the love and check out at least one other participant’s moment.

Next week, we will be hosting Bigger Picture Moments. Keep an open mind and heart throughout the week and come back to participate again or for the first time! All are welcome!

I scoop my crawling baby into my arms, cradling his head full of coppery dark hair in the crook of my arm as he signs for milk while making little coughing noises in anticipation of our nursing session.

Sadly, he’s the only one looking forward to it, desiring the time he spends nestled in my arms, at my breast, me nursing him to nourishment and calm.

I’m busy. I’m scrambling around the house throwing things inside our suitcase as warm salty tears escape my eyes.

I’d gotten a call from my sister just 30 minutes before; she’d told me our dad’s surgery didn’t go as well as the doctors hoped. One specialist said our dad had a 50 percent shot of making it.

I try to swallow the other option, telling myself percentages cannot measure endurance or stubbornness. And certainly, our dad had exhibited both in his personal life and professional career. As a captain of his south suburban fire department, I rationalize that he’d been in really hot situations in the past, and he’d always come out on the other side of the flames and billowing smoke. Certainly, it’d be like all the other times, I said. Certainly, he’d pull through from emergency surgery to remove a bowel obstruction.

Baby E. grasps the top of my shirt as he latches on to the nurse. His cornflower-blue eyes, wide as saucers begin to slowly narrow as the milk starts flowing. The continuous rhythm of suck, suck, suck, swallow, breathe, coo, suck, suck, suck, swallow, breathe, coo becomes the constant sound in my ears in place of my wildly thumping heart, panicky thoughts and rationalizations.

His chubby little hand begins stroking my chest just below my neck, slow, steady, gentle brushes against my skin, bringing my breathing to a slower, steadier rhythm in place of short, gasping breathes. My body sinks into the couch.

My pulse slows as his nursing does … the rush of the letdown has passed and a steady, trickling flow replaces it. Little slivers of blue peak out through drowsy eyelids.

And even though I was in a rush just moments prior, I now want him to nurse just a little longer … gently sweep his fingers over my skin just a few more times … I want the peace to last just a little longer. I linger, my half-sleeping, half-nursing baby still cuddled in my arms, wishing I didn’t have to move him. I carry him to his car seat, quietly, gingerly strap him in, a new calm washed over my body as we drive to the hospital.

It’s moment by the moment, his doctors say.
His kidneys are failing.
His liver is failing.
My dad is fading quickly, but for some reason, he’s hanging on. His heart is beating strong.
It won’t let go. Here’s that determination, that characteristic stubbornness at play.
I grip my father’s large, olive-complected hands and try to say everything I need to say. But I cannot get everything out through the tears. I finally have to leave his room, escape to the waiting room.

It’s been a long week, filled with uncertainty. I’ve sat in more waiting room chairs than I can count, my heart constantly is torn between two places — his hospital bed and the home that’s housing my boys.

My heart is racing, my eyes are brimming with tears, my muscles shrink and tense. As I stumble to the waiting room, I know I need to pump milk for baby E.

I settle in the chair. I have to close my eyes, pretend my baby is really in my arms until the milk flows. And as it quickly begins to plop into the bottle, my baby gifts me with a calm, though he’s miles and miles away. It’s enough to return to my dad’s bedside and finish laying my heart out to him, all while still hoping he pulls through.