Photos by Christine Prisk, who I was excited to meet the other day at Finn's nature-based morning program. He'll be attending two mornings a week while I spend some time with Lachlan, hopefully getting a bit of work done as well. How wonderful it is to have a professional photographer as a friend!
Lachlan. Of course, I don't need to tell you that he melts my heart every time he smiles (always with mouth wide open, as if he were trying to swallow all the goodness of the world.) I don't need to tell you that he melts the heart of everyone who spends time in his Buddha-like presence. I don't need to tell you that he's an old soul, or that he is someone who, as he gets older, will get along with everyone - someone who brings out the best in every person he meets. I just have this sense about him. He's such a love.
But you remember, don't you? You remember the tough days. Sometimes I almost forget, looking at that face, feeling him nuzzle his sweet cheek into the crook of my neck. But I don't forget. I'll never forget. I am forever changed.
I remember my Mom telling me this: "You can choose to let this make you bitter and unhappy, or you can choose to be a more compassionate person because of it." I was listening to her words on the phone, days after we received the diagnosis. Tears streaming down my face, falling onto my small, round belly. She was right. It's not a one-time decision, though. It's a decision that has to be made over and over again.
So where am I going with this? Food. Milk. Eating. The daily practice of letting go and being compassionate. Lachlan's feeding has been the most stress-producing, patience-developing reality in my life. This babe has made me a more loving person because of it.
I now know never to judge a mother who is bottle feeding her baby. I know that having a heart baby is so stressful that your milk supply can plummet. I know that it's okay to ask for help, and that it's a noble thing for a friend to pump her extra milk for your baby. I know that it's okay to pump as much as you can but still have to supplement with formula after five months of exclusive breast milk. I know that a mother can only do what she can do, and that having compassion for one's self is paramount in being a loving, present mother. I know that mothering a baby is more than milk.
I now know that having a baby who develops an oral aversion after the second surgery in four months is a scary thing, even if it's "no big deal" because he has a g-tube and can get all of his nutrition via a pump directly into his stomach. I also know that it does absolutely no good to get worked up every few hours, stressing about getting a baby to suck on a bottle. That the only way to move forward in a situation you don't control is to say to yourself, over and over, "It is as it is, and I can choose to let this stress me out or I can choose to smile anyway and not let my emotions be controlled by a challenge that is not mine to overcome." I know that coming face to face with your worry and sorrow for your child every two hours is exhausting, even if you manage to stay positive through most of it.
I know that, when your six month-old baby all of a sudden starts taking all of his milk by bottle for the first time in his life, that this is a day for celebration! The day you no longer need to wear a pack with a pump on your back, tubes hanging aroud your waist, attached to the baby in the carrier on your front. Lachlan has been feeding well for several weeks now - there's no looking back.
His cries of hunger are like victorious battle cries to my ears. My boy is eating! He is sucking. Swallowing. Breathing. Smiling. Repeat. He is eating solids, and has a distinct preference for avocado. My boy, you can eat avocado all day long for the rest of your life! I am just so overjoyed that you are liking eating.
The world is on your plate, my love.
Open up that smiling mouth of yours and eat it.