A couple of weeks ago, I was growing annoyed at the backlash against Melissa for her posts on breastfeeding and bottle feeding. One post actually attacked her for supposing that women should have the right to decide what is best for their families. Another was ridiculous enough to suggest that bottle fed babies simply don’t bond with their mothers, which could lead to set of undesirable behaviors that harm society. That, and oh, by the way, if you bottle feeding mothers think others are eying you with judgment and scorn, well, that’s because they are. Or so says the author of that particular post to which I refuse to link.

It was in the process of letting go of these ugly sentiments one afternoon that Baby J and I shared a tender moment which got me thinking about the real ignorance of the author’s premise — i.e., essentially that bottle fed babies won’t properly bond with their parents, and as a result will lack some fundamental quality that will cause them to feel detached from society and do bad things. I am oversimplifying, but that was the gist of it.

Some commenters pointed out how ridiculous her statements were. Others logically explained that good parenting involves a full range of behaviors that go far beyond nursing. I wish I could even remember what I said. Probably something to the effect of “Jane, you ignorant slut.” Heh. (Just kidding, btw.) I do remember wanting to write something like, I’ll bet you think Hitler was bottle fed. But I didn’t. I tried to maintain civility.

Anyway. Back to our moment.

Baby J had a cold and was having trouble falling and staying asleep, and especially napping. One particularly busy afternoon while I was working from home, she struggled against naptime for over 45 minutes. She did pass out from sheer exhaustion, eventually. But then she slept for just 30 minutes. Not good. So I went into her room, thinking I might be able to coax her back to sleep since it was so early in the sleep cycle. When she desperately wanted out of her crib and no amount of coaxing worked, I finally took her out and sat down in the glider. It was quiet and dark. I rocked her gently with a bottle. I held her close, gazed into her sleepy yet open eyes before closing mine. I slowed my breath with hers. She tried to drink from the bottle but was so congested she could barely get it down (it was goat milk, btw, diluted with water).

Instead of lulling her to sleep, she reached up and gently touched my face. She let the bottle fall out of her mouth.

“Mama,” she said quietly with a smile. “Yes, baby,” I said softly. “Mama’s here.”

“Mama,” she said, this time more definitive and more awake than the last. “Yes, sweetie,” I said. “Mama’s here. Now it’s time to close your eyes…”

Yet instead of taking the bottle again, she slowly sat upright and leaned into me, offering her version of a hug.

“Oh, that’s nice, sweet girl,” I said, hugging her back. I felt my body lighten. “Mama loves you.”

Then she came even closer, her hands resting still on my face. This time she opened her little mouth as she approached, offering her version of a kiss. Then she did it again, and again, smiling wide.

“Mama loves you so much, baby girl,” I said, and just then I felt the tears unexpectedly well up.

The tears were filled with sweetness, with gratitude. They were filled with the knowledge that this moment might have never been. These tears were overflowing with love between mama and child.

I felt the stress and worry about her lack of a real nap simply melt away. In that moment I didn’t care that she should have been asleep, though I knew we would pay for it later. I didn’t care about the things I had planned to do during naptime, things that needed to be done, as important as they were. The best laid plans didn’t matter.

All that mattered in that moment was that moment, our connection.

Personal experience is so much more powerful than ignorance, don’t you think? So I figured sharing it must be more meaningful too.


~ by luna on October 10, 2010.

22 Responses to “connection”

  1. Just so precious, what a beautiful moment.

  2. I saw your response to one of the Janes and admired, as always, your gentle but firm nature.

    But this? “wanting to write something like, I’ll bet you think Hitler was bottle fed.” Fabulous!

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful moment between mama and child. Makes me warm on this chilly morning 🙂

  3. What a gorgeous, gorgeous moment. And these examples speak much louder than the generalizations.

  4. Omigosh, I was just talking about this with DH – about the controversy about Melissa’s postings. It’s amazing how people can read the same article and think they’re saying completely different. One woman’s blog I read from time to time said she was considering not reading her anymore. I’m astounded actually at how offended some women got. Why are women battling for moral superiority here on this point?

    I loved how you described your moment with Baby J. Just love it! And you know why it means so much? Because there is such a high degree of gratitude – I get it! I came so close to never being able moments like that! We don’t take it for granted. How can women so utterly miss the point? Does a child need to be latched to your chest for years in order to love and be loved? There are a whole generation of people (my husband included) who were bottle fed and seem to be able to form close interpersonal relationships, love their mothers, and be productive members of society.

  5. Talk about perfect moment Monday.

    Thank you so much for share such a wonderful moment.

  6. Wow. I am blown away at the ability you have to capture this amazing moment between you and your daughter. I felt like I was right there in that dark room with you.
    It took us 10 years of horrible infertility to have the babies we do and I agree with Mel (above) about the gratitude. There isn’t a moment that is wasted on us and this is key.
    As for bottle feeding vs. nursing…I wonder if we will ever see a day when women will simply celebrate and lift one another up instead of judging and competing.

  7. i haven’t read the post and comments to which you’re referring, but i think the entire argument can get a bit ridiculous. most mothers decide what is best for their babies based on what works comfortably. breastfeeding is great, but not always feasible. i was not breastfed because i was adopted. i then chose to breastfeed my son, but after several weeks of lovely intimate moments, was forced to switch to bottle due to a freakish combination of medical conditions that caused him to stop breathing while breastfeeding. even though i had a really good reason to switch to bottle, i still felt harshly judged by some mothers.

    you have an incredible bond with your daughter that you have consciously created with your open heart, honesty and integrity. these are not ingredients found in any mother’s breast milk. we will all continue to bond with our babies in unique ways not described in books and create beautiful bonding moments like the one you graciously shared with us.

  8. What a wonderful magical moment! I don’t read the blog you are talking about, I will never understand why someone would choose not to breastfeed if they can, I am still really really sad about not, but its not my life its theirs.

  9. I forgot to add, it is a bunch or crap about not being able to bond, we didn’t even have Maya as a baby and let me tell you there is nothing wrong with our bond. The hitler thing was too funny you should have posted it.

  10. Beautiful. What a wonderful moment.
    I’m so behind on my blog reading that I must have missed that bit of drama on the internet. I can’t for the life of me understand why people have to be so narrow in their perspective or view of things.

  11. What a sweet priceless moment.

    I think the arguments on that subject can get really ridiculous too, and so hateful sometimes. It’s nuts.

  12. I do think so. Absolutely. This is beautiful.

  13. What a lovely moment, Luna. Sweet/Salty Kate had a post up a long while back that got a ton of flack from the natural birth crayzees some of whom insinuated that you couldn’t bond with your child unless you vaginally birthed them. Yeah. Which of course meant if you had an emergency c-section or adopted that sorry! No bonding for you! And kate listed some of the really poignant moments that she felt made her a mom. One of mine was feeding Bella pasta for the first time — I bypassed the whole bland food bullshit and just gave her marinara and ricotta on pasta and she ate and ate and her face looked like something had exploded and it was just . . . . beautiful. That was bonding. And I breast fed her for a year. Keep holding on to these moments Luna and don’t be fooled — I kinda feel for people who cling to birth and breast feeding as the be all and end all because I hope they’re not missing all the other wonderful moments that to me really define motherhood.

  14. It’s all about the moments. What a lovely one and I firmly believe all this judgement from other parents is just total bullshit and I try to tune the noise out. I haven’t read the post you are referring to but I don’t want to! I’ve bottle fed from day 1 and I was bottle fed as a child and I am a non-criminally insane person. Nursing, I am sure, is a wonderful bonding thing, but there are countless other kinds of bonding that shape a child so to put so much weight on the boob is ridiculous. She is a boob, in fact. Keep the moments coming and savor all of them.

  15. This post really touched me!

  16. i absolutely love this.

  17. Awww!! You have me tearing up here in my cubicle at work. Well said, Luna. : )

  18. Luna, can you send me an email at dbablin at yahoo dot com? I have a hotmail email address for you (I think) in my settings for my private blog, but I’ve started getting comments and emails from someone at that address who very obviously is not you. But their name in my settings is “Luna” and I don’t recognize them as someone else I had given access to. Much appreciated!

  19. Such a beautiful moment! Thank you for sharing that little window into your family! (and you are right…these moments are so much more powerful than ignorance!)

  20. I am so grateful that you shared this moment and that you wrote about the ‘breast vs. bottle contraversy’. I have been watching from the sidelines, when I’m not bottle-feeding my own son. I am so disgusted at some of the negative reactions and I think it shows a real short sightedness and disregard for the diversity of our families. Thank you for being you and for being so insightful and inspirational.

  21. Why do things get taken to such extremes? It’s annoying: There’s not enough info and support for women to breastfeed (including f’in’ parental leave beyond 3 mos), and yet there’s this posse of lactivists who don’t understand there are lots of legit, sometimes extremely personal reasons some women MUST bottlefeed.

    I love the moment you shared. I’ve teared up, too, looking at my little guy and getting sloppy toddler kisses from him.

  22. […] 11. Connection (October). Sharing an intimate moment while bottle feeding a sick baby who wouldn’t sleep. […]

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