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How Breastfeeding Brought Me Closer to God

How Breastfeeding Brought Me Closer to God

Apr 2 2013
Nursing became the spiritual discipline that taught me to slow down and rest.

I never thought I'd be breastfeeding in my clerical collar. Come to think of it, I never thought I'd be wearing a collar, but that's another story. Home from church between a funeral service and a lunch reception, there I was, in my son's nursery with my black clerical shirt hiked up and my infant son enjoying a meal.

"This is weird," I said to my husband, who was patiently awaiting the baby hand-off. "And holy and wonderful," he said. (Can you see why I married him?)

At first, motherhood seemed like just one more vocation to add into our already filled-to-the-brim lives. I was thrilled when we discovered I was pregnant, but I felt a lot of trepidation about how a baby—however much loved, however much wanted—would fit into things. Yet I didn't imagine that one simple, daily act would anchor my son and me to the Lord through it all: breastfeeding.

I suspect the mention of breastfeeding elicits a response among many readers, as it has become another significant foothold in the "Mommy Wars." While reasons in favor of breastfeeding are well documented, for some, nursing is not possible, yet the pressure to do it can be overwhelming. From New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's much-debated "Latch On" program, to social pressures chronicled by The Atlantic's Hanna Rosin, these days not breastfeeding can be isolating.

Yet the way of the "Mommy Wars" is not the way of the cross, and as other writers have rightly noted, Christian women have a unique responsibility to model love when it comes to these tender topics. "Breast" may indeed be "best," and surely Christian mothers can encourage one another in our nursing efforts, but the last thing I want to do is stir things up by adding one more benefit of breastfeeding—and a Christian one at that.

Plus, as moms know full well—and KJ Dell'Antonia writes in the New York Times' Motherlode blog—breastfeeding isn't "free." Plus, places to nurse or pump, while often federally required, can be tough to find, to say the least. Moms must invest their bodies and time into feeding our little ones, often sacrificing hours spent at work, checking email, running errands, and a myriad of other things to pumping or nursing. So then, why? Why did breastfeeding—something that cost me time, money, pain, and some real logistical nightmares—help me find God in the midst of new motherhood?

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