A Moment of Tenderness …

This post comes from a pop up writing workshop with Wildfire, “the only magazine and writing community for the women “too young” for breast cancer.” I’ve written before about how I’ve been honored to have some of my writing published in various issues of Wildfire over the years (and will again in the upcoming MBC Legacy issue) and the pop-up workshops are only some of the amazing classes April offers.

Without further ado, here’s the response to the prompt, “A Moment of Tenderness … “

My boys were one (1) and three (3) when we first heard those life-changing words, “you have breast cancer.” We were tandem breastfeeding and they were both accustomed to nursing to sleep. They’d done that every night of their lives. When we came back from getting the breast biopsy that started my experience with cancer, they avoided my left breast, not liking that blood and milk leaked from the place where the tumors resided.

When the doctor said that there would be no more breastfeeding and the milk had to go in order to get good images, my boys weren’t happy. The eldest understood and gracefully adjusted to cuddling to sleep. My younger son, then about to turn two (2), not so much. Over a week of wailing and demanding to nurse every single night had us all frazzled.

During this time of struggle, I often contemplated ignoring the doctor’s instructions and simply giving my baby what he wanted, what he needed.

What often sustained me during that horrific week was thinking back to that magical moment when we came home from the hospital with that wailing baby on Mother’s Day in 2015. When I walked into the house with the baby, I wanted to connect my boys with each other and so sat down to tandem breastfeed for the first time. As the boys both latched on for nourishment both body and spirit, my elder son reached over and petted the top of the baby’s head. They’d “met” in the hospital, but my elder son refused to look at the baby.

That moment of tenderness between my boys gave me hope that they would connect with each other. That connection remains to this day and nearly nothing makes me as happy as seeing them together. They fight too, rather fiercely, and even that is a connection between them that is like no other.

Back in 2017 and even later, I have often despaired that the abrupt weaning damaged my relationship with my second son. And then, when my hair fell out, there was a new place on my body that they wanted to touch and in shaving our heads and decorating the shiny baldness, they moved on. They both came back to the family bed and we snuggled again, this time without milk, without what was before. My boys helped me to see that our relationship was and is more than milk, more than what my body could produce for them.

My boys showed me that parenting is more than one season, one body part, one experience. We continue to build on that moment of tenderness and all the moments that followed while they were tandem breastfeeding and is now so much more.

5 thoughts on “A Moment of Tenderness …

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