As I rocked and nursed my baby to sleep about an hour ago, I got thinking about something an OB said to me the morning after my first daughter was born. He was an OB I had never met before. I can’t even remember his name. But he was one of the doctors from the practice where I had received my prenatal care. I suppose he was the one on-call that morning, so he was doing the postpartum hospital check-up rotation (or whatever they’d call it).
It was early in the morning, still dark. Dr. Whatshisname was asking how breastfeeding was going, I think. We’d had a rough start and some latching troubles, but I don’t think my response to his question was an unusual one: “I’m feeling some nipple soreness.” Of course I was! Nursing hurts like the dickens in the beginning. Even when you’re doing it right. At least it has for me. Every time. Maybe it’s not painful for everyone, but I have met very few women who haven’t experienced soreness in the beginning.
I was still drugged-up on Perkacet and Tylenol with Codeine, and too fresh and naive to realize how ridiculous Dr. Whatshisname’s response was to my extremely-common-sore-nipple-ness. I can still hear his pompous, patronizing tone saying:
Looking back on that moment, I feel such a surge of mixed emotions… indignation, pain, shock, irritation… it makes me want to cry and vomit at the same time. I don’t know why I have such a strong negative response to it, but I do. I suppose it’s because his statement was a powerful indication of the way he viewed my body and my purpose as a mother. I’m “not a pacifier?” How could he say that?
Could there really be a more fitting description for a mother than that? Pacifier. Yes. It is exactly what our bodies, hearts, and souls were designed to be. We–our arms, our bodies, our kisses, our breasts–are the ultimate and best source of peace and comfort for our children. We allay, soothe, settle, restore to a tranquil state, calm. A mother’s smell and touch are life-giving, healing, and far more soothing than anything else in a baby’s world. We are peace-givers and peacemakers. We are the original, supreme, and ultimate pacifiers.
I wish I could stand before Dr. Whatshisname now with my four nursed-on-demand-and-to-sleep children around me and in my arms and boldly and proudly declare to him: