Sunday, October 11, 2009


As I rocked and nursed my baby boy 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:

"You're not a pacifier, you know."

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 can 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 three nursed-on-demand-and-to-sleep children around me and in my arms and boldly and proudly declare to him:

"Yes, I am a pacifier. I am a mother."


Terra Jones said...

Thank you so much for these words. It always killed me when people would say that re: my nursing "habits" and my boys.

Your children are beautiful! Keep up the great work, mama!

Hilary said...

I have come to CHERISH my role as pacifier, specifically when nursing. My kids are not cuddly, not ease to soothe . . . and yet, even at 17 months old now, if Ellie is teething, has a big fall, or gets overly upset by her big sister's teasing, I get to hold her in my arms and soothe her. She nurses from tears to big, milky grins that prove that all she needed was Mommy.
With my first I stressed ALL the time by the 'fact' I was 'nursing too much' . . . usually for 40+ minutes every three hours. Now, I look back at those as our quiet, peaceful time spent in the midst of horrible colic, and I can't imagine what I would have done without those hours of one on one bonding time with my baby during such a tough time! Nursing is what got us all through it. 'Cause we had one trick up our sleeves, one thing that worked: Mom as a pacifier. Thank goodness.

Faithful Lurker said...

I completely agree! I am happy to be a pacifier.

I generally get annoyed with advice on nursing/birth from men anyway. What exactly do they know about any of it Dr. or not?

Sweetpea said...

I got the same line from a postpartum nurse, and was so whacked out from drugs, exhausted from a long hard labor and birth, and emotionally disappointed that I didn't have my homebirth, I listened to her. Thankfully, neither of my children ever really wanted to take binkies, so they were exclusively breastfed. And my 29 month old is still going strong. Yahoo!

Missy said...

Your words are so true! I loved nursing my girls and it made me feel so good, especially those times when nothing else seemed to soothe them.
I did give them pacifiers as well, which I now kind of regret in ways. At the time it was what worked for us with two in tow. I hope to be able to not use them next time.

The Mommy said...

YUP I am the worlds largest "pacifier". And I love it who am I kidding, I just fulfilling my God given role as a woman. And I am VERY blessed to be able to do so!!! Thank you "Busca" ;)

Sarah H said...

Love this post!

The Fifes said...

Amen. :)