Feeding by Example

Feeding others is a focal point of my present life. From nursing #3 to pumping for my “milk baby” (the baby who receives my donated breast milk), from planning weekly dinner menus that are healthy, non-allergenic, and minimally offensive to preparing and cleaning up after those meals, from helping breastfeeding moms navigate nursing troubles to aiding aspiring milk donors find breast milk recipients, my days are food-centric.

My mom was — and still is — one of the first people to set up a dinner train for neighbors in need. I never understood the value of such a practice until my mom became ill when I was a senior in high school. Neighbors, family friends, and acquaintances provided us with hot dinners for weeks. It was a welcome comfort during a trying time.

Now, a mother myself, I hope to model the beauty of the dinner train for my own children. Thinking of and serving others with no expectation of or desire for repayment is a value I hope to instill. So, I lead by example.

Upon hearing a friend is facing challenges, I first ask how I can help. Often, this open-ended question is simply too overwhelming. So, one of the first things I offer is a homemade delivered meal. My goal is not only to remove one thing from the individual’s to-do list when he/she is faced with life obstacles, but to provide a sense of comfort during a time of upheaval. Additionally, having my children witness me planning, shopping for, preparing, and delivering meals to others will — hopefully — make the ritual a norm for them.

Feeding others doesn’t simply fill bellies, it soothes hurting hearts and warms weary souls. From my heart to others’ mouths.

Diaries of a Nursing Mom

1) During a morning kid bath — utilized solely for the purpose of entertaining and containing #1 ¬†and #2 while I got ready for the day — #1 pretended to nurse Mermaid Barbie. “I’m the mommy,” she said to #2, “you’re the daddy. You can’t feed the baby.” “Well, if the mommy pumps breast milk into a bottle, the daddy could feed the baby,” I remind her. “Hand me the bucket, please,” #1 demands of #2. #1 places the bucket beneath her nipple for a five-count: “Here’s the breast milk,” she says as she hands the bucket to #2, “Now, you can feed the baby.” Then #1 cradles Mermaid Barbie back to her chest to “nurse” as #2 pretends to bottle feed his doll.

2) #3 bit me… HARD. (Three exclusively breastfed babies, months of pumping for my own children and, then, solely for donation; I’m no peach blossom.) “My kiss it and make it better.” #2 offers. I thank him but tell him Mommy will be OK. #1 reprimands #3 for biting: “Mommy feeds you. No biting!” Then I fish two shards of wicker basket from #3’s mouth. The basket from which I had just shooed him away because he likes snapping apart the woven pieces. Lovely.

3) #3 is experiencing a growth spurt, which means he nurses All. Night. Long. When he awakes in the morning, roughly 20-30 minutes after his last feeding, he greets me with a huge smile and a happy squeak. It’s as if he hadn’t been suctioned to me for most of the night. He’s either senile or charming, I’m too tired to know which one.