Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bigger Picture Moments: Nursing me back to life

Welcome to Bigger Picture Moments, a place where we step back and take in life. There are moments where we're so caught up in it all, the hectic mind boggling pace of the day. 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 every day 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. The hugeness that is life and the small moments adding up to one huge Bigger Picture.

Bigger Picture Moment

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 your moment. Link up this week at Sarah's, 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, Melissa 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 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 an emergency surgery to remove a bowel obstruction.

Baby E. grasps the top of my shirt as he latches on to 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 let down 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 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 bed side and finish laying my heart out to him, all while still hoping he pulls through.

My cell phone rings when we're minutes away from my mother's house, minutes away from my boys after spending a long day at the hospital. All I hear is crying and gasps of breathe in between my cousin's words ... He's gone.

My husband pushes the gas pedal, accelarates, and when we arrive at my mom's, I rush into the house and scoop up my baby.

He smiles, coos and signs for milk while nuzzling his head into my soft flesh. I cry heavy tears as he latches on, but again find solace in the rhythmic suck, suck, suck, swallow, breathe, coo, suck, suck, suck, swallow, breathe, coo, suck, suck, suck, swallow, breathe, coo .... suck .... suck ... suck ... swallow ... breathe .... coo.

It's been a long two months since I've last heard my father's voice, live, over the phone or in person. Grief hits me in tsunami-style waves ... unexpected, towering, unbelievable in strength.

I see a little girl place her small hand in her father's large hand while at the park. My heart sinks into my stomach as I smile back tears. Three-year-old G. is playing on the swings and baby E. is happily playing near my feet, eating dandelions and trying to pick individual blades of grass.

He begins quickly crawling to my feet as the grief hits my heart square in fresh scar tissue. He climbs up my legs, saying "ma ma ma ma ma" and signs milk with his free hand as he steadies his weight on his chubby feet.

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

But this time, we're both looking forward to it, desiring the time he spends nestled in my arms, nursing me back to life.


  1. Oh Hyacynth.

    I'm so sorry, you've expressed your heart cry so sweetly.


  2. I love that bond with baby. I'm glad I was able to bond with my son while I was so far away from Grandma during her last days. Continue to grieve for you father in whatever way your heart needs too. It is a beautiful post.

  3. Hyacynth - this must have been so hard for you to write. We all seek solace and comfort in different ways don't we?

    While you're nursing, as the life slips from your dad, you nurture and strengthen the life of your little boy - a poignant, tender reminder of the circle of life.

    Thank you for sharing this painful, sobering moment with us. May you continue to find the peace you seek in the ordinary and extraordinary of your every day.

  4. so well written. sorry for your loss. but oh my you make me want to go for #5 just to be able to sit in that calm and nurse again. ...sigh.

  5. I'm so sorry that you lost your father. But I am happy that you have your little one and your nursing time - such a beautiful time. This got me through my grandparent's deaths - it's amazing this gift God has given us. You are in my prayers.

    xo Erin

  6. This was my first visit to your blog and it most certainly will not be the last. Beautifully written and so poignant. Thanks for making me smile through my tears!

  7. Oh honey... this was so good. I hope it helped, the writing of it. Putting it out there.
    It's amazing what the magic of nursing will do - for mama and baby. It's such a beautiful thing.

  8. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing. I am sure it was hard. xxo.

  9. Oh that tsunami wave of grief, I totally get that, it comes with no warning. What a beautiful way to allow yourself to slow down and relax and process the moment.

  10. this was just beautiful.
    the loss. the grief.
    and love and hope.

  11. Oh the pain of tears...and oh the comfort of a little one so desperately needing his mother...

    Your words are like an open book to my heart...I totally understand...

    Love you, sweet "sister"...

  12. You're amazing. I believe that having a child with you during these difficult days of grief is good for the soul. I remember nursing my second son at my father's wake. I sat in an empty room and just cried and cried.

  13. I've been meaning to leave you a comment for the longest while here since my friend Stephanie Hanes told me to come visit your blog a while back. She just linked to this post on FB, so I decided to come and check it out.

    My heart ached for you as I read this post. You write beautifully and I can so relate to those beautiful nursing moments.

    I'll be following along now. :)

  14. a beautiful post. so sorry about your loss.

  15. Oh, I am so sorry for the loss of your father. This is a beautiful post! I got to the point with nursing where I saw it as a distraction. Then I had to wean for reasons beyond my control, and I grasped at every last chance to spend that special time with my daughter.

    I hope you continue to find comfort from those sweet, quiet moments. God Bless.

  16. this brought tears. I am so sorry for your loss. But I thank you for reminding me of the sweet times I had breastfeeding. It brought me right back.

  17. Oh my goodness. I clicked onto you link from Julie at Foursons because I loved your guest blog LOI. I didnt expect to find tears, peace, joy, and grief all rolled into one. I am so sorry for your loss, and so grateful you have those peaceful moments with your precious baby to cherish.

  18. Hyacynth- My heart aches for you and your loss. I hope that writing this helped your wound just a small fraction. I'm sure it is more like a gaping hole. When my husband lost his father it was just like

    "Grief hits me in tsunami-style waves."


    I hope you heal in your own time, but you are in my prayers.


  19. You are handling things beautifully. Your Dad is so proud of you.

    Anyone else who reads my comment may think I'm being awfully presumptious, but that's ok. Because I know anyways.

  20. {gasp}

    I just don't know what to say. That was such an amazing piece. My heart goes out to you for your loss. The bond with your baby is amazing. I always regret that I wasn't able to nurse my son. :(

  21. Because I am relatively new to your blog, I am new to this mournful news of your father's death. I'm so sorry, my friend.

    My mother died ten years ago and there are still times I'd love to hear her voice on the other end of the telephone.

    Grief has a rhythm, like a wave. I will be thinking of you as these emotions toss you about in the coming months. I'm so glad you have your babe to snuggle and find solace for you both.

    My love to you today.

  22. Babies have such an amazing way of turning into our needs, and helping us relax and slow down just when we need it, even if we didn't know that we needed it. I'm glad that your baby was able to comfort you in your time of need.

  23. beautiful. emotional. this is my first time here and i can't say much else right now...the tears have got me.

  24. Oh God. I'm crying for your pain here and for the comfort you're receiving from your nursling. May God Bless all of you and give you the strength to move forward, baby step by baby step. xo

  25. I didn't know it was possible, but I miss you even more.

    I love you and so very much wish to be able to hug you right now.

  26. oh hyacynth. i'm just reading this now, for the first time, cheeks wet with tears. your writing is exquisite. so much pain and so beautiful, still. love you, friend.


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