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Holding My Baby

Heidi Poliafico
Lancaster PA USA
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 18 No. 6, November-December 2001, p. 208

Some people are closet nursers. I've read all about them. They are mothers of toddlers who are still nursing but never, ever in public. When the conversation leans toward breastfeeding, the closet nurser quickly changes the subject or may even bend the truth. These mothers are doing what they believe is right for their child and their heart.

I wonder what people would say about me. I'm nursing a toddler, Lauren, who is 15 months old and I'm seven months pregnant. I plan to tandem nurse and I tell anyone who will listen. To add to everyone's horror, we have always had a family bed and we already have the "sidecar"set up for the new baby to join us. Again, I tell anyone who will listen.

However, it is naptime that I have yet to "come out" with. I tell people that Lauren naps fine. What I don't tell them is that I hold her during her naps. That's right, I'm a closet holder. I can't help it. My heart melts when she falls asleep in my arms nursing, her breathing becoming slow and heavy, her face relaxed and beautiful. How could I possibly miss a minute of that? It's intoxicating and I can't give it up. Not yet.

It all started with the sling. Lauren was fussy during her first few months and I would wear her from morning until night in the sling to keep her contented. With the help of the sling she nursed and slept all day in my arms. She was happy and I was deliriously in love.

When she was able to sit up, crawl, and play, I missed the time she spent nestled in my arms. My friends, family, and pediatrician all lectured me about maintaining my independence and creating hers, "Don't spoil her. She'll control your life." But nursing her to sleep and then holding her while she napped just seemed natural me. As reinforcement, I saw the benefits every day. Lauren has always been a good nurser and a very easy child who is almost always happy. My husband, Joe, must have noticed this too as he never complained, even when the housework fell miserably behind and his cooked meals became more and more sparse.

I have missed many parties, movies, dinners, and hours on the treadmill because I can't lay Lauren down and get away while she naps. I've made up countless excuses to avoid confessing, but it has all been worth it. When Lauren is an adult and on her own, I will have the memories of the hours I spent smelling her hair and feeling her breathe while she slept peacefully on my chest. I will always remember watching her drowsily wake up with hot rosy cheeks only to look at me lazily and snuggle back into my neck or into my breast to nurse again into dreamland.

Lauren will soon outgrow my arms, especially with a new baby on the way. This has made me hold on to and treasure our naptime even more. I have well-meaning friends who tell me I should "try not to pick Lauren up so much. If you keep picking her up all the time, she'll have a hard time adjusting to the new baby." I just nod. If only they knew.

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