Friday, December 28, 2007

A New Kind of Intimacy

The relationship between a mother and child is one of intense physical intimacy. In a way, that intimacy is a mirror image and counterpart to the intimacy of lovers that (well, aside from the doctors and the needles and the tubes and gizmos, I mean, in an idealized, blurry-edged fantasy world where fertile people live) brings the child into being.

Where lovers start as strangers and gradually discover each other, at times merging into a single being, the child and mother start as a single entity and slowly become physically and emotionally separate. And in both relationships, there is an unbridled delight in one's own and the other's physical being. Nowhere else in life can you revel in and explore another's body with such abandon, tracing each curve of the earlobe, nibbling on fingers and knees, caressing tummies and napes of necks.

Breastfeeding has been an absolute revelation for me. It's incredible that it happens at all, more so when you think about all the complex processes that surround that one simple act. Somehow, my body knows exactly what type of milk to produce, how much of it, and when. Gabby's sucking not only satisfies her hunger, it releases hormones that shrink my uterus back to its normal size (and make us both happy and sleepy). According to some promising new research, breastmilk may even have curative effects for people suffering from HIV and cancer.

And even crazier is how much I love feeding her this way. I love getting all snuggled up with her, skin to skin, having that connection and sharing the flood of hormones and responses. It's our own special little world, where we still share physical space and an intimate bond.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

G- I just love this post, and I am so happy to hear that breastfeeding is (clearly!) going well already. I always found it hard to explain why I loved nursing Soren so much. It made me feel emotional, made me proud, made me feel connected, and damn it, frankly, it just felt GOOD. You'll also see, when GE gets a little bigger and has more control of her hands, she'll start to place her little hands on your waist, and man does that also mirror a lover's touch. And yet somehow, lovely, not freaky. - Kinnari

Yankee said...

Just an ADLer who is very, very happy for you. A lot of people don't know this, but apparently the breastmilk you make for Gabriella is made specifically for her. If you had another child, you'd make different milk for that child.
I just have the one child, but I loved knowing that my body was taking such good care of his.
Enjoy every minute of it.