The Act of Nursing



I’m a formula feeding mom. Not by my mind’s choice, but my body’s. Most days I really don’t think twice about it.  I don’t feel sad. I don’t feel guilty.  I just shake up a bottle, hold my little one close and watch her drink up like it’s nectar straight from heaven.

Last night though, she caught her brother’s cold. She couldn’t breathe; she couldn’t sleep. Thoughts of guilt started setting in. If only I could of breastfeed, she wouldn’t be sick.  She would be getting all of the garlic and vitamin C I had been downing over the last few days.  If I could nurse her, she would be comforted, she could be lulled back to sleep. For a moment, I felt helpless and a bit jilted. But then I remembered, I may not have milk, but I’m her mama. Nursing is not the only way my body was designed to comfort. I picked up her sniffling, crying body and wrapped it up in her soft cotton “baba”. I held her close while I swayed back and forth, pacing the floor. I sang and “shhhhhed” right next to her little ear, feeling her sweet wispy hair on my cheek. I drank in her scent and hoped she was doing the same of me. She relaxed and stopped crying. I sat down and rocked her and held her up against the left side of my chest so she could hear my heart beating. I squeezed her deliciously chubby thighs and patted her back and listened to her breath become slower and more calm.  First rest, then sleep, then deep slumber. I had done it.

I prayed for strength and patience, knowing that this routine would be deja vu at 11pm, 2am, 4am and so on. I didn't mind.

Early the next morning, I curiously looked up the definition of the word nurse. Over one hundred years ago, Florence Nightingale defined it as “the act of utilizing the environment of the patient to assist him in his recovery.” I smiled knowing I had not breastfed my baby, but I had nursed.