Twelve Days With Beautiful

Twelve days ago, something wonderful happened.

We welcomed a daughter.

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Little Miss Josephine Marie Walsh was (finally) born on Thursday, February 4 at 12:38 in the afternoon. She weighed nine pounds even and measured 21 and a half inches long.

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We followed our tradition of choosing a family name for our girl, just as we did for her brothers. “Josephine” is for my great-grandmother and “Marie” is after my middle name and my mother’s. (And my mother received her middle name in honor of her Aunt Marie, so there’s another level of family connection to that one.) I love how “Josephine Marie” hearkens to the Holy Family. What a good reminder her name will be to our own little (well – less little now) family.

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Josie and I are both doing very well at this point, thank goodness. Like her brothers, this little one proceeded to loose far too much weight in her first several days (nearly 16% of her birth weight), so we’ve had to begin supplementing with formula. (No surprise there.) Within days of beginning it, Josie rebounded beautifully: she gained nine ounces in three days, she stopped fussing so much, her – ahem – digestive system began to function normally again, and she started sleeping through most of the night. Amazing. I’m so grateful.

I’m feeling better too. The last time I had a baby, I was so excited (and, apparently, awake) that I dashed off a quick update for the blog, like, that night or the following day. So I thought I’d be able to do the same this time. I was wrong. Unlike my previous three deliveries, which all went something like this: Pitocin administered around 9am, baby born at 4 or 5pm (full day of work: check) – this one stretched on for what seemed like forever.

First there was the getting turned away from the hospital after a half-day’s worth of waiting and monitoring. Then there was the return to the hospital and the round after round after round after round (literally – four rounds) of a drug that was to prepare me for dilation. Then there was the middle-of-the-night start to my Pitocin. Then there was my customary eight hours of labor before finally, blessedly, pushing for less than five minutes to welcome Josie into the world. (Full day’s work, morning shift, immediately following two back-to-back shifts and one false start: check.)

When it was all over, exhaustion overtook me like it has rarely done before: I was nodding off mid-sentence, mid-thought, mid-answer to curiously awake-looking nurses. Needless to say, writing (even to answer emails or texts) was put on the back-burner. So was moving around. And thinking coherently.

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Thank goodness Brennan was such a champ: He stayed up all night long that first night, changing diapers, soothing our newborn, and managing her spit up. (Poor thing was born so quickly she must have taken a gulp of fluid on her way out.) And he’s continued to work super hard for the nearly two weeks of my recovery since then. I’ve managed the baby and some dishes and my own exhaustion/weakness/wooziness; he’s managed the boys and the cooking and did I mention the boys?

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Today will be his first day back to work and are we! going to! miss! him! Thankfully, as of this past weekend, I think I can say I’m emerging from my fog. I think.

What I can say with certainty is that our little Josie is beautiful. Yesterday I sat staring down at her in near disbelief. I cannot believe we have a daughter. I cannot believe how lovely she is. I cannot believe we have been so blessed as to welcome another perfect little baby into our lives.

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Thank you to all of you who kept us in prayer during my pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Thank you to all who have given us help and offered Josie welcome. Thank you.

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14 From ‘14

Merry Christmas to you! And a happy New Year too!

As we wrap up 2014, I thought I’d do a little recap o’ the blog to highlight some of my favorite posts from the year. (I’ll admit – it was pretty fun to scroll through them all.) And since I want to do you the favor of making it obvious as to why I chose these particular posts, I thought I’d include each in its own category. So… without further ado (since there’s plenty of it below)… here are 14 From ’14:

1. The most viewed post (and the closest to “viral” that I’ve ever gotten):

When Breast Isn’t Best

Wow. I knew this post in opposition (so to say) to Breastfeeding Awareness Week might attract a bit more attention than usual, but it went and blew “a bit more” out of the water. In the post’s first day, I received nearly ten times as many views as I usually do on post-publishing days and I more than doubled my best day ever. All told, the post has gotten more than a dozen times the views of my average post.

So let’s see… what element of the mommy wars should I tackle next?

(No, no – I’m kidding. Stoking fires just for the fun of it isn’t my thing – there are plenty of others you can go to for that.)

Doubly selfish: using formula and counting on the four-year-old to feed it to his brother.

Doubly selfish: using formula and counting on the four-year-old to feed it to his brother.

2. The post that was hardest to write:

It Is The Same Evil

This thing was a bear to get through. (ISIS? Evil? Hmm… I wonder why?) I worked on it for weeks – weeks in which I felt like I was trudging through mud every time I sat down at the computer. It definitely felt like there was some Resistance at play. When I finished writing the post, I could barely look at the thing, I was so unhappy with it. But with a little more distance, I’ve come to think I did a decent job of it.

3. The post with the best discussion in the combox:

Yes, I Worry About Religious Freedom

This post makes me so happy. Not because I think the piece itself was any work of art, but because it generated such a great discussion in the comments section. This (despite all my mommy ramblings about exhaustion and vomit) is why I started the blog – to encourage discourse on touchy, divisive, important matters of politics and society. Polite discourse, open-minded discourse, respectful discourse. I know this one little post was just the tiniest of drops in the bucket, but it’s my drop and I’m glad to have let it fall.

4. The post with the strangest subject matter:

The Best Possible Mugging

I had a mugging story. I had to tell it!

Yet another incongruous photo. It's not even Washington, it's Germany. But it was taken around the same time as the events in this post.

Yet another incongruous photo. It’s not even Washington, it’s Germany. But it was taken around the same time as the events in this post.

5. The post that would make the best sitcom episode:

Epilogue (Please) To The Day Of The Snake And The Water

Snake slithering out of a basket of my sons’ toys? Jumping toilets? Brown water shooting out of a toilet’s tank and at my face? It’s my own brand of slapstick!

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6. The post that most pulls on my heartstrings:

Single Lady Gets A Family

During my single twenties, I began to think I might never have a family of my own. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am that I was wrong.

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7. The funniest (in a desperate sort of way) post:

Think Of Your Closets

“If I had to choose one piece of advice to offer young people at this very moment, it would be: Don’t be a pack-rat. And if you absolutely can’t resist the urge to be a pack-rat, make sure to be an organized one.”

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8. The bossiest post:

Why You Should Vote – Even When It Feels Like It Doesn’t Make A Difference

In which I use guilt and just a little bit of elections expertise to strong-arm you into becoming a regular voter.

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9. The post with the most (and maybe the best?) pictures:

Taking A Weekend For Us

Brennan and I went away for a weekend before the baby was born – without our boys. It was heavenly. I took lots of pictures.

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10. The post that best showcases my boys’ narcoleptic tendencies:

Greetings From The Land Of Nod… Nod… Nodding Off

New here? My boys fall asleep all. the. time. At the table, in the car, on the sofa, in the highchair, on the floor, in the shopping cart… And when I’m pregnant, I’m almost as bad as they are.

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11. The post that seems most pertinent to the events of this week:

Courtney’s Love

Courtney Lenaburg, the beloved daughter of Mary from Passionate Perseverance, passed away this past Saturday morning. Courtney’s wake will be held tonight and her funeral tomorrow. Please keep the entire Lenaburg family in prayer during this very difficult time.

12: The post written with most love for my oldest:

What Matters To Him

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13: The post written with most love for my middle:

This Child

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14: The most consequential post:

Announcing…

I had a baby this year! Few things are of greater consequence than that!

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I’m linking this up with Dwija’s 12 Photos in 2012 link-up at House Unseen, Life Unscripted. (12? 14? Photos? Posts? Close enough, right?) Be sure to stop there for more 2014 recaps — and much more beautifully-shot photos than my own.

I hope 2014 was kind to you. The year brought me some great challenges, but even greater blessings. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

When Breast Isn’t Best

Tuesday morning I sat nursing my four-month-old son, scrolling through my Facebook feed on my phone when I saw it: Breastfeeding Awareness Week. My heart fell.

For a nursing mother, I have, perhaps, an unexpectedly low tolerance for the pro-breastfeeding social media blitz that is Breastfeeding Awareness Week. It seems to me a bludgeon, brought down on formula-feeding mothers again and again and again.

Because I’m one of those too: a formula-feeding mother.

When my oldest son was born four years ago, I intended to exclusively breastfeed. I tried to exclusively breastfeed. But my boy was very big and very hungry and my milk didn’t come in soon enough, so my poor baby spent most of his first few days screaming his head off. And losing weight. By the time we brought him to the pediatrician for his three-day appointment, he had lost almost 15 percent of his birth weight.

My milk still hadn’t come in. (It wouldn’t until day five.) And the baby seemed so pathetic and miserable and hungry and 15 percent was too much anyway, so with a very serious look on his face, our pediatrician handed us a bottle of pre-made formula and said that the baby needed to have it right away, right there in the office.

I have never seen anything that broke my heart more than the relief on that poor, hungry baby’s face when he took his first sips of formula. I felt awful. Awful that I couldn’t provide him with what he needed, awful that I might never be able to, awful that he had suffered because I had been unwilling to let go of my pride and just give him a bottle, already.

The anguish continued for months. I still couldn’t satisfy my boy’s hunger once my milk came in, he still wasn’t gaining back his birth weight on the small amounts of formula we were providing him at first, and he still wasn’t gaining weight when (at two months) I stopped feeding him formula altogether because I thought I’d finally built up my milk supply enough to satisfy him.

All the while, I was driving myself insane with the anguish and the guilt and the work of it all. I would nurse for an hour (sometimes two), then I’d make a bottle, feed a bottle, clean the bottles, pump, clean the pumping equipment, and start all over again. I’d sit in the rocker nursing until my tailbone could no longer take it. I’d go for appointments with a lactation consultant. I’d bring in my baby for weight check after weight check. I’d cry and then cry some more. I’d argue with my husband, sometimes blaming him because my own sense of inadequacy made me eager to shift the blame to someone, anyone else.

I was miserable.

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Four years later, I’m still capable of feeling that misery as if it were fresh. A few weeks ago I looked through my son’s newborn pictures to grab a few for a blog post and I was surprised at how hard it was to see them. It was hard for me to look at photos of my own baby. Each seemed its own little trauma; I knew the pain and the sense of failure hidden in each and every one.

When my second child was born, we had a similar experience, only this time the baby didn’t lose as much weight because we started to feed him formula once we recognized those anguished, can’t-be-satisfied-by-mommy cries. Again, my milk didn’t come in until day 5 and again, it was never, ever enough for my boy. At least with him, however, I was able to nurse (probably more for his comfort than nutrition) for 12 months. My first son had rejected nursing after only five. (Do you know how hard it is for me to refrain from typing “rejected me”?)

Then we had a similar situation with my third son. Before he was born I was just sure nursing would work this time. I will never make that mistake again. Because when it didn’t work, oh how very bitter the disappointment tasted. My milk came in at day 3 and it didn’t matter. He was too hungry to latch on. I was right there before him with milk to provide and all he could do was scream. The child had no idea that such things as formula and bottles existed, but when they were presented to him, he accepted them eagerly, a far cry from the frustrated reluctance with which he nursed.

All of this would have been hard enough. All of this pain and work and rejection would have been hard enough for a new mother to handle, but then salt was repeatedly poured in my wounds by “Breast is best” memes and “Every woman can nurse her baby” internet chatter. And worse, by “well-meaning” women insisting on giving me breastfeeding advice.

(I hope you’ll forgive the quotation marks around “well-meaning.” Some women, I’m sure, are genuinely well-meaning when they give you breastfeeding advice. They love you and they sympathize with what you’re going through and they want to help you. Other women, however, seem so attached to the idea of breastfeeding that they give advice out of loyalty to it, not out of love for you.)

“Nurse every hour!” they would say, when I was still nursing at that hour mark. “Pump between feedings!” they would say, when I had virtually no time between feedings as it was. “Drink plenty of water!” they would say, when I’m pretty much already a fish. “Breastfeeding babies just don’t gain weight as quickly as formula-fed babies!” they would say, when they weren’t the one holding the baby screaming from hunger.

But the worst thing a woman ever said to me when I was crawling through the trenches, struggling to do the best for my baby in those first few weeks of his life, was “Breastfeeding is a very unselfish thing to do.” Yes, a fellow mother told me that. She implied that it was selfish of me to supplement with formula. When I was barely hanging on. According to her – and to too many other women, I’m afraid – I revealed my selfishness the moment I first let that scoop of formula drop into a bottle of water.

Doubly selfish: using formula and counting on the four-year-old to feed it to his brother.

Doubly selfish: Not only do I use formula, but I count on my four-year-old to feed it to his brother.

A couple of months ago, once I got through my initial surprise and pain at yet again not being able to exclusively breastfeed, I thought I was done with my sensitivity on the subject. After three babies, I had finally come to accept that nursing and supplementing with formula is what works for us. It’s what our babies need to be well-nourished, it’s what I need to keep myself sane, and it’s what allows us to be a happy, functioning family.

I have three strapping, healthy boys, after all. For all the “breast is best” talk, my boys are thriving. They’re solid and tall, they have no allergies or asthma, they’ve never had an illness more serious than a simple virus, and they’re cuddly and well-attached. They didn’t need my breastmilk. They just needed to be fed.

With my body’s naturally measly level of milk production, I don’t think I’d ever be capable of exclusive nursing without a major, strenuous, time-consuming effort. And I’m simply not up for that. I need my sanity and the other members of my family need me too much for me to ever go through that. So should we ever be blessed with another baby, I am resolved to welcome that child with a bottle of formula sitting at my elbow. If, after a couple of days, my baby seems to need it, I will provide it with no hesitation, and hopefully, no guilt.

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Helping bottle-feed since before he was two years old.

That’s where I was a couple of months ago: being practical, moving forward, determined to not let those mean ol’ lactivists (I jest – kind of) get to me anymore. But then those newborn pictures sucker-punched me. And soon after, I found myself in a ballroom at The Edel Gathering, twisting open a bottle of pre-made formula while other mothers nursed their babies a few feet away and still more sat on the floor pumping milk for their babies back home.

But I, I had to suffer the indignity of pulling a bottle out of my bag, handing my baby to the kind lady behind me, and pouring that fake milk from one plastic vessel to another. “I just nursed up in our hotel room!” I wanted to shout to the room at large. “I only supplement with formula!” “I can’t produce enough milk!” I felt so ashamed and left out and alone and I realized I’m not over this.

How awful that I should think it undignified to feed my baby.

No one says to a woman struggling with infertility, “Every woman can conceive a child.” Yet we hear again and again, “Every woman can nurse her baby.”

This week, I’m not the only one who is feeling the pain and the unwarranted shame of not being able to nurse, or to nurse exclusively. Amy wrote a terrific post on the subject on Monday. The Washington Post ran a beautiful piece on it yesterday. I know I’m far from alone, and I know that I’m blessed to have been able to nurse my babies at all.

It’s just that I wish enthusiastic breastfeeding supporters would cool down a bit. I’m pretty much never a fan of “awareness weeks” to begin with. I think they’re a little silly and I don’t know what they actually achieve. I think they’re too often excuses for niche interest groups to become their own biggest cheerleaders. But all that aside, the breastfeeding debate has become something that hurts mothers. It hurts mothers who are already suffering exhaustion and physical pain and the emotional turmoil of not being able to satisfy their hungry babies.

So the terms of the discussion need to change. Breastfeeding can be a beautiful thing; it is right and good to tout its benefits, to encourage mothers to attempt it, and to provide support to those who are willing and able to commit themselves to it. But breastfeeding can also be horrible. It should never be advertised as the only good way to feed a baby and it should never be advanced by shaming women.

Let’s remember that this issue is not, at its heart, about breasts or breastmilk. It’s about mothers and babies. Not mothers and babies in the abstract, mind you, but individual mothers and babies who have real needs and unique challenges. Let’s make sure that we speak and act out of a loving commitment to them, not to an idea.

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 24): Joys of Boys, Breastfeeding in the Sistine Chapel, and… Vomit

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Let’s just pretend you’re reading this on Friday evening (when it was written) rather than Saturday morning (when I finally posted it), alright?

—1—

Just as Jen said this morning that it was taking all of her effort not to write her entire 7QT about the FitBit, so it is taking all of my effort not to write my entire 7QT about vomit. Yes, that’s right, vomit.

Aren’t you lucky to be reading my post?

As anyone who’s been friends with me on Facebook for more than a few months will know, my primary parenting cross is vomit. It is not sleepless nights, it is not picky eaters, it is not stubbornly-unwilling potty-trainers. It is my boys’ copious and relentless opportunities to vomit all over the place.

And they’ve never even (until now?) had a stomach bug. They’re gaggers. They vomit because they’re gagging on food that is too big/crunchy/mushy/varied in texture/unpleasant in texture/generally undesirable. They vomit because they’re congested. They vomit because they’re carsick. They vomit because they’re upset.

They have vomited in bed, in the car, at the kitchen table, at restaurant tables, and in what feels like every room of our house. We have gone weeks at a time with at least one vomit episode per day. We have gone months at a time with at least one per week.

But fear not: tempted as I am, I will not burden you with an entire 7QT of vomit. I’ll just burden you with two Takes. If you’ve got a queasy stomach, jump down to Take number three.

—2—

My boys’ vomit no longer holds any power over me.

I discovered this last night, when my two-year-old vomited for the third time in less than 24 hours. (It’s still not clear whether the poor guy has a stomach bug or a respiratory thing.) I knelt next to him, catching what I could in my hands, and my stomach didn’t churn even one little bit. I am immune. I know the routine: catch vomit, call for older son to retrieve receptacle for vomit, clean me up, clean little guy up, clean the rug, wash vomity laundry. And it’s smart to wait on that last one a bit, because if somebody vomits once, they’re likely to do so again.

Last night couldn’t help but remind me of my hands-down, all-time, most frenetic evening of parenthood. It was a little over a year ago and even in my pre-blogging days, it made such an impression that I wrote it all down:

We had quite the busy little evening here. The idea was for Brennan and I to scarf down a quick carry-out dinner and then B would take care of the boys while I went to the grocery store. BUT we were thwarted.

As soon as we sit down for our sneaky attempt at eating, the little guy interrupts us. So we get him settled in his high chair. As we sit back down, Brennan knocks over a glass of water. We deal with the mess. As we sit back down, the big guy wakes up from his nap. I get him out of bed and then shovel down my (now cold) food. Then I finish my grocery list while Brennan tries to feed big guy (fail) and little guy (partial fail). I clean up half of little guy’s meal from the floor and run upstairs to throw in a load of laundry before I leave for the store. I come back down to the family room to find little guy throwing up all over the place (because he got hold of a piece of food too big for him) and big guy throwing up all over the place (because he’s watching little guy).

Brennan and I are shouting a confusing mix of “Go into the other room!” and “Don’t move!” at big guy, who runs over to look at little guy, throws up, runs away, hears little guy throw up again, and runs back to see what’s going on. Repeat. We end up in the kitchen to clean off the boys, where big guy throws up again. So, bathtime. I bathe the boys while Brennan cleans up the vomity family room and kitchen. Little guy pees in the water and then immediately scoops up the pee water with a cup and pours it onto the bath rug. We get the boys dry and dressed and I settle in the nursery to give little guy a bottle and get him to sleep. As soon as I lay the nearly-asleep baby in the crib, he starts to cough and then (of course) throw up again. Into my hands and onto his bedding, pajamas, and bumper. I call to Brennan for help. I deal with the crib; he deals with the baby. I go back downstairs in defeat. Four hours of nonstop activity and still no groceries.

—3—

That was fun, wasn’t it? Believe me, I’m a barrel of laughs right now.

There’s the fact that both of my boys are sick at the moment, there’s the sleep deficit that has been compounded by the boys’ sicknesses, there’s my own post-nasal drip that I just feel starting up, there are a couple of other things I’ll tell you about next week, and there’s my bruised-feeling arm from a shot I got on Wednesday.

I’m really not a big wimp when it comes to needles, especially during pregnancy. (I can put up with so much more when I’m doing it for someone else’s benefit.) But that darned TDaP shot! It hurts! Not so badly at first, but by the end of the day, I was in pain to the point of distraction, to the point of nausea. When Brennan came home, I pretty much turned everything over to him and told him that I wasn’t planning to lift my arm. I had to sit still, my arm stretched out at my side, perfectly immobile. It was all I could do to avoid the waves of pain that made me feel like I was going to lose it.

Yeah, I don’t have the highest pain tolerance.

Which makes me more than a little nervous about an appointment I’m to have next week. It’s for an anesthesiology consultation at the hospital where I’ll deliver the baby. They’re to review my records regarding the stupid herniated-disc-in-my-neck thing and decide whether I can have an epidural for this baby. (Note that I had epidurals for both of my previous deliveries, no problem.) I dread the docs telling me that this time, it’s off-limits. As Jenny so perfectly put it, when I get to the hospital, I want to be able to greet the staff with, “Hello, this is my third delivery, and I don’t want to feel anything but joy.”

—4—

Things I would rather do than deal with doctors’ offices / insurance companies / medical bills:

There are more, I’m sure.

—5—

When I wrote that boys-are-not-easy post a couple of weeks ago, I forgot to include a quick story that (like the others) illustrates my life with boys quite well:

It was the evening of St. Nicholas Day and my body had responded to the stress of having eighteen children aged four and under in my home that morning by flooding my head with pain. Not quite TDaP-level pain, but painful enough to make me pretty much useless in the parenting department.

I tried. I kept up the child-tending motions as long as I could. But there came a point when I simply sat down on the kitchen floor and let the pain wash over me. Not to be deterred by the sight of Mommy sitting on the middle of the kitchen floor with her eyes glazed over (indeed, they were probably intrigued), my boys, whose absolute favorite thing to do in the evenings is rough-house with their daddy, seemed to decide I was a good target.

So they ran directly at me and I did all I could think of to defend myself: I stuck out my arms and faced a palm at each of them in a silent “stop” gesture. They bounced right off my hands. And they thought. it. was. hilarious. So that’s how they occupied themselves – running at me, bouncing off my outstretched hands, falling onto the floor, and giggling like mad. Repeat. For quite a while.

The scenario perfectly represents how I feel about parenting boys on the hardest of days: they keep coming at you, again and again. And they take delight in doing so, even when all you can muster is a simple, feeble attempt at basic defense.

—6—

Goodness, I’m cheery today, aren’t I? Let’s brighten it up for the last two takes.

Sometimes, when I watch my boys play together, I wince at the little reflections of myself I see in them, bossing each other around with shouts of “No!” or “Dat makes me vewwy unhappy!” But lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of my love and encouragement reflected in their play too. I see lots and lots of hugs amidst the wrestling. I hear lots of “I wuv you.” and “You are so cute, Jude.” And “Good job!” and “Dat’s a gweat idea!” My favorites are my three-year-old’s sighs of, “I sink Jude wuvs me… (smile) I wuv you, too, Jude.” And this one, from last weekend, was the absolute best:

3yo: “I sink Jude wuvs me.”
Grandpa: “And do you love Jude?”
3yo: “Yes. I don’t want him to be taken by a wobot.”

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—7—

I’m fading fast, so I’m going to make this last one actually quick, as opposed to my usual faux quick. Maybe I’ll revisit this topic later to stuff in all the commentary I’d planned to include here.

Anyway. You’ve seen all the headlines lately about Pope Francis encouraging women to breastfeed their hungry babies in the Sistine Chapel, right? Well, Brianna Heldt had a great post this week on when she breastfed her own baby in the Sistine Chapel, in the days of Benedict XVI. Here’s an excerpt. Be sure to click here to read the whole thing.

[I]n a last-ditch attempt to soothe my poor child and avoid Vatican employee ire, I darted towards what I hoped would be a nondescript corner and pulled out my trusty nursing cover.  “Pleeeeeeeease, God, don’t let the guards see me!,” I prayed, since I was breaking the whole “no sitting allowed” rule, not to mention breastfeeding an 18-month-old in, you know, the Sistine Chapel, which I reckoned was also off-limits.  People can be touchy about that sort of thing.

And wouldn’t you know it, not long after I began nursing, two guards made a beeline for me.  Like a really direct, obvious, can’t-get-there-fast-enough beeline.  Obviously they had some sort of superhuman ability to detect sneaky rule-breaking, noisy babies and distressed, humiliated, perspiring mothers.  Here it is.  I’m about to get kicked out of the Sistine Chapel for breastfeeding a screaming baby.  International incident, anyone?

Then the guards bent down with wild gestures and earnest words that I couldn’t quite make out, and so I stood up and fixed my shirt and clutched my baby and averted eye contact, all while imagining Pope Benedict XVI’s stern head shaking and tsk tsking when he was briefed that evening about this most horrible breach of Official Catholic Etiquette by Non Catholic People, in the Sistine Chapel of all places.

But no, the guards were actually gesturing me and my husband in the opposite direction of the exit.  Ohmygoodness, are they hauling us into some sort of Vatican office?  Are we going to be fined?  Yelled at?  But no, they were unroping a cordoned-off area, up at the front.  Where tourists aren’t allowed to go.  And then they began pointing and, well, pretty much forcing us to sit on the bench.

They weren’t asking me to leave.

They weren’t shushing my baby.

They weren’t appalled that the American lady was doing something so banal as breastfeeding a child, amidst the world’s most magnificent masterpieces.

No, they weren’t doing any of those things.

They simply weren’t going to permit a mother to breastfeed her baby on the floor.

So there my weary and disheveled little family sat, in a part of the chapel not typically accessible to the public.  Up by the altar.  We got to enjoy the art and the beauty from what was arguably the best seat in the house, at our own leisure, and with the knowledge that we were welcome there.  We experienced a reprieve from what had been an exhausting several days (that had incidentally included meeting the girls who would become our two new daughters, and all of the respective birth mothers of our adopted children–emotional overload much?).

See it appeared that in spite of all the people incredulous that an uncivilized 18-month-old dared be present on their tour of St. Peter’s, well, the Vatican and presumably Pope Benedict XVI thought otherwise.  And I will never, ever forget that.  Incidentally Mary had transformed into a calm and happy child sitting there on the special bench, and rarely have I felt such peace as I did in those moments, gazing at the ceiling and the colors and the gold with my husband and little girl.

And it’s funny because my fear and hand-wringing and the entire global village of tourists hates us and our baby! were, in the end, 100% unfounded and inconsequential.  Well except for the part about all the people hating us, because they really kind of did.  But that didn’t much matter in the end, and do you know why?

Because The Powers That Be around there, aka those belonging to and representing Jesus’ Church, have this upside-down idea that human beings are created with dignity, that motherhood is a high calling and important vocation, and that Jesus welcomes–especially welcomes–”the least of these”, be it a fussy baby, exhausted mother or all of the above.

G’night, all! Happy weekend! And don’t forget to head on over to Jen’s to check out the rest of the Quick Takes.