May 25, 2011
I noticed in the last couple of weeks that many of the moms I have been working with have been calling a bit more, seeming a bit needier. Most of the time when I see a mom and baby I see them one time and then after we figure out their breastfeeding challenges we create a plan and I allow for follow-up via phone, e-mail, texting and by support groups. But recently it has been different. I have gotten requests for more visits. I try to tease out what is the issue that cannot be resolved over the phone. I pride myself on my “good phone” techniques, my good listening skills.
No, they need another home visit. So, I go, I show up. And I see them nursing their babies. Things are better than when I first saw them. The woman looks more put together, her home a bit neater. Why am I here? I wonder.
Today, the sun came out.
And so I realized – it has been so rainy and gray. These moms can’t get out to a group or to the store or for a walk around the block with their new babies.
And I remember, in 1993, when Rob and I were newlyweds. Rob came home from work and there I stood in the kitchen, putting away groceries, weeping. The tears streamed down my cheeks as I placed the eggs in the refrigerator and the cereal on the shelf in the cabinet. We had a lovely apartment on Irving Place with a window box that bloomed with purple and pink petunias for six months out of the year. This rainbow of flowers out my living room window made me so happy. But this was winter and it was gray and cloudy. Gray and cloudy for nine days in a row.
When Rob and I married I finally had health insurance. Rob did what any caring husband would do: he went to the book shelf that housed our catalog of health providers – this was before you needed to look online – he flipped through to the psychiatrist section.
“I am going to find you help,” he said.
“Oh, no, I will be fine when the sun comes out.” And so I was. And I forget how affected I am by the sky, by the clouds, by the sun.
As I had my children they so occupied me with their own needs that the gray days were overshadowed by the needs of my babies and toddlers. They verbalize their dislike of walking to school in the rain or in the snow or in the freezing cold. And so I have to help them, I have to cheerlead them into their snow pants and rain slickers. My needs are last on the list. My need to wallow in the sadness of gray skies gets shuffled under the snowdrifts or into the rain puddles.
My children are growing old enough to know that the seasons change and the sun comes out and that they can deal with gray skies and cold weather. My rain boots sprung a leak and so I had to find a new pair. My umbrella fell apart one recent rainy day and I had to buy a new one. I have been growing weary of all this rain and the seeming delay of spring warmth.
These women who had me come and keep them company – well they kept me company. They gave me a gift of sharing their lives, their babies with me and kept me from focusing on the gray sky. They gave me the gift my children have given me. They gave me a focus when I could have sat and cried and wondered if I should go online and look up mood disorders.
And today, the day the sun came out and the rain finally took a break. All of the calls I have gotten are from moms and dads with true breastfeeding challenges: sore nipples, low milk supply and non-latching baby. They did not call to have me come and listen and see them doing well despite the weather. They did not call for me to keep them company.
I am happy for all the families who call on me to guide them, to listen to them no matter what the weather.