My daughter Lily is 10 months old and it has been a hard 10 months. (see: letter to women) When she was 3 weeks old, she had a small procedure done to cut the skin between her top lip and gum. The thick band of skin was making it impossible for her to suck properly, and in those agonizing weeks before the procedure she had already tore away my skin, caused lots of bleeding and incredible pain.
It would take me about 4 more months to fully heal from the bad nursing and a horrible cash of thrush. In those 4 months the pain was so great that I couldn’t even hold my baby to my chest. I could barely lie down or shower. The burning pain of the thrush felt like it was never going to go away. All my spare time was consumed with reading people’s thrush remedies online, trying them out, and disinfecting everything we touched. My kitchen counter looked like a pharmacy with all our treatments and pain medications.
There were many days when I would call my husband crying telling him I wanted to give up and die. The pain and the postpartum depression were overwhelming me and I didn’t think we would even make it through end of the day. Surviving those first few months of her life was the hardest thing I have ever endured.
As I was nursing my daughter to sleep a few weeks ago, I was looking at her sleeping so peacefully in my arms. In a moment of grace, I blurted out, “I would do it all over again.” It surprised me. I had gone through the darkest part of my life after she was born, but I was claiming to do it again just so I could hold her; so she could experience life and have a chance to know and to love God.
It’s one of the most profound experiences of love I have ever had because now I could now more closely relate to Christ’s love on the cross and understand with new meaning the words, “This is my body, given up for you.” I had shed blood; I had endured what felt like death, and this little bundle in my arms had been worth it. I can’t say I still feel that way all the time, but it doesn’t take long to recall that moment of grace with clarity and renew my love for my daughter.
Dear mothers, as you know, love hurts and love requires suffering: suffering that is united to Christ on the Cross. And yet, this deep love is also what we were made for and what we long for. Whether you are sacrificing sleep to nurse through the night, or have mastitis, or encounter the biting of a teething baby, we nursing mothers are all sharing in the greatest love of all: the sacrifice of the Cross.