Last week, I decided to wean Barrow. I'm still tormented by this decision - Barrow seems to be allergic to something I've been eating, and since eliminating milk, soy and eggs didn't make his symptoms disappear, the doctors said it was time to let go. I question this decision at every feeding, and likely won't ever make peace with it. But one thing happened this week to help me begin to let go: I gifted my stockpile of frozen breast milk.
After experiencing the challenge of working with Alice and nursing her for a year, I was pretty aggressive at building up a store of frozen milk for Barrow before I went back to work. Consequently I had about 300 oz. frozen in our fridge.
All of which the doctor said I couldn't use for Barrow.
I couldn't bear to see that "liquid gold" go to waste, so I sent a post on one of our parent listserves offering up the supply to anyone who needed it. I doubted I would have any takers, but I was wrong. A woman who had a double mastectomy and is expecting a baby girl in June took my offer.
She came to our house on Tuesday night, excited to be picking up one of her first supplies for the baby. We were both nervous, not really sure of the protocol for this kind of exchange. And then, almost from out of nowhere, it was emotional and meaningful beyond words. She said thank you. I didn't know what to say. We hugged. She told us she would tell us when her baby arrives. I offered more, as I have more as we wean. And then - in a flurry - she left.
I've been so moved by this experience. The community of women. That this is how it should be - women helping women. The idea that another baby will be nourished from my body. That there are women who love their babies as much as I do who never have the chance to nurse. That I've been so lucky to take this for granted. That, in this day when charity is almost always removed from the people you want to help, to be in touch with someone so deeply. That, in a situation where you often feel so utterly helpless, you can actually help. It's been profound.
"But when she stepped off the train in New York, her plain little face looked beautiful for a moment, as if the future were opening before her and its glow were already upon her forehead, as if she were eager and proud and ready to meet it..."