“Can a mother forget the infant at her breast,
walk away from the baby she bore?
But even if mothers forget,
I’d never forget you—never.”
-Isaiah 49:15 (The Message)
This passage has taken on a whole new meaning for me recently. To think that it was written thousands of years ago, in the Jewish community, and that it has such relevance for modern-day me in the United States, is nothing short of astounding.
In the past few months I have received breastfeeding tips from all around the world: Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. They pour in from family and friends, acquaintances and others I follow online. Words like “latch,” “engorge” and “pump” have suddenly acquired new meaning.
“Make sure to offer her both sides when she nurses!”
“If you get sore, keep feeding her! It will get better in no time!”
“Drink lots of water!”
“Remember this stage is only for a short while!”
Indeed, already we’re beginning to think about weaning and introducing solid foods and such … yet a part of me is asking, What will life be like once my child is no longer breastfeeding? How can I give up such a precious, precious gift?
It’s amazing to see the Baby Center’s laundry list of breastfeeding benefits for both mother and child. Some highlights:
- Protection from illnesses, allergies, obesity, risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), etc.;
- Reducing stress levels, some cancer risks, and chances of getting postpartum depression;
- And possibly even boosting our children’s intelligence.
Perhaps they already knew about these things at the time the above passage from Isaiah was written!
It’s funny to think how the Western world is rediscovering all these benefits after many years of trying to find substitutes. It wasn’t until the 1950s that developed countries “fully embraced artificial infant formula,” according to this article.
And yet many scientists and the American Academy of Pediatrics still hold to the ideal of breastfeeding, at least for the first full six months of life.
I still remember the incredible feeling of watching my newborn daughter nurse for the first time. So tentative, so surprising for us both … yet it seemed the most natural thing in the world.
Even now after months of watching her nurse, it still gives me a thrill of awe to see her go from full-on crying and screaming to peaceful slumber in a matter of minutes.
And oh, the bond it helps create between mother and child. I used to wonder how mothers always seemed so patient with their babies.
The little critter could be throwing a tantrum, arms flailing like miniature windmills, making messes every other second … and the mother would adoringly feed, clean and soothe all at the same time.
And now I’m that weird mother who is doing exactly the same thing!
Even when my baby is screaming until her face resembles a blotched tomato; even when she refuses all comfort and I’m at my wits’ end to know what she needs; even when it seems like she is nothing more than a one-stop slobber shop (and all my sleeves are drenched from her drool) …
She is still, totally and thankfully, my child.
That is something that every culture around the world, especially our multicultural culture, can understand.
How amazing that God, the creator of the universe and someone far above and beyond anything else we could ever know, uses the picture of a nursing mother and child to communicate His love for us. It is one of the highest demonstrations of love He can compare His own to.
And yet … even if it were possible for mothers to forget their children (my mind boggles!), He would never forget us.