I am the dinner table. I am breakfast, lunch and supper. I am a mid-morning, afternoon and midnight snack. You can call me blue plate special or fine dining. We have just finished four days of cluster feeding. The four week growth spurt took us by surprise. Apparently, it is not a given that you will remember everything from the first time ‘round. There we were, my husband and I, in our living room, on the couch last Wednesday with a fussy baby that viewed my breasts as an all-evening buffet. He was on and off the boob and crankier than the crane on the Island of Sodor. Loch googled ‘fussiness’ – how did the generation ahead of us survive parenthood without the internet? – only to learn that Hamish was simply growing. He ate and he ate and he ate and he was still hungry.
The dinner table is mobile. At 7am, I feed Hamish while reclining like a queen in my bed amidst stacks of pillows. Mid-morning, he has a snack in the ML section of the MacPherson Library. I’ve come to visit my co-workers to show off my newest addition. It is so quiet here in the stacks and I know that I’m a bit out of place when a young male student rounds the corner, sees me and immediately shifts his gaze away. But, even still I think to myself that the music score section of an academic library is a fine place to nourish both brain and body. At lunch, he eats snuggled in the cow patterned breasfeeding pillow while I supp on tuna melts and creamy tomato soup and watch a tapped episode of House. Crumbs from my toast falling and coming to rest on Hamish’s brown and red Please Mum outfit.
In the afternoon, he has a picnic on a wooden bench on the Westshore Walkway. Joggers pass by as he suckles his way to a brand new second chin. The air is autumn crisp and his fingers are cold, but the vanilla steamed milk pouring out of my breast is warm, sweet and fully of fatty goodness. A woman runs by and says, “Oh, I miss that – have fun for me.” I think for just a moment that I’d rather be jogging. At dinnertime, he feasts in the rocking chair. The slow back and forth motion matching the bobbing of his head as he drains me one more time. Before bath time, Corbin is the engineer and I am the conductor and Hamish is the passenger. He eats while I sit in a child sized blue plastic Ikea chair. I can do both at the same time, I tell myself.
After the bath and before I go to bed, he has one more snack. This time he is once again curled into the breasfeeding pillow while I eat my dessert. Chocolate sauce drizzles onto the favourite elephant jammies – the brownies made by my god sent chef of a husband. It’s 2am, Loch has fed him his midnight bottle to give me a break, and now it is my turn again. I sit on the couch with my feet extended but one knee up to help support my arm, which supports Hamish’s head. He latches on sleepily and consumes more milk. I am sleepy too. I gaze down at him affectionately. My neck is sore from the proud mama pull – that muscle ache that comes with gazing down at your infant adoringly while he eats. My own head is bobbing as I fight the urge to fall asleep while holding my son. At 5am, we resume that same position on the couch. This time the cat comes out believing that it is morning and believing that I will want to cuddle with him. I tuck my feet into the spaces between couch cushions to avoid them being smooched and drooled on by the feline cuddle monster. My son eats and he eats and he eats and he is still hungry.
When I’m not the dinner table, I’m employing a borrowed electric pump to extract four ounces of liquid gold. This will be used in the night when Loch is still up and I am resting – making more milk. My older son, Corbin, comes into the kitchen. He looks at me and then at the pump. “What’s that?” inquiring 2.5 year old minds want to know. I remind him of the episode of Teletubbies that he watched the previous week – the one where they marched the cows into the barn and hooked them up to a machine that sucked the milk out of them. “It’s the same thing,” I tell him. This satisfies his curiosity and he is off again to finish his puzzle. I am left on my own in the kitchen to watch the electric device suck my poor purple nipple into a chamber. The sound of the pump is rhythmic and soothing. The effects of its efforts are amazing. I watch as streams of milk come out of me, warm and fogging up the chamber of the pump. I can see the evidence of my body’s hard work as the bottle fills up. I am amazed that this liquid contains all that is necessary to not just sustain him but make him grow – he lives off of me and only me. He is thriving and lengthening and starting to fit into the clothes that he was swimming in just a month ago.
*written for the Momoir Project writing class on November 17, 2008