Thursday, February 7, 2013

First Blood, Then Milk

A reading from this week's Breastfeeding Politics & Policy class stopped me in my tracks, for obvious reasons.
"I think she looks like you," [the lactation consultant] says with a wink.

"I'm adopted," I say blankly. It's a telling response. I'm so accustomed to discounting the physical resemblance people claim they see between me and my own mother that I forget Faith and I are related. Even though I have the episiotomy stitches to prove it. Which, right now, are hurting me a lot.

Lisa studies me for a while.

"So am I," she replies slowly. Then she shows me a picture of her own (breastfed) daughter, now eight years old. Bright eyes, mile-wide grin, she looks like a miniature version of her mother.

And that's when I know it is no accident that Lisa has devoted her career to helping mothers forge abiding, biological bonds with their babies. Nor is it any accident that I desire this relationship so deeply. Your body out of mine. From my body into yours. First blood, then milk. These are the living threads that weave mother and child together. As much as I love my adoptive mom, this bond is a connection we never had. And as for the unknown woman who gave birth to me, we were lost to each other before I was even as old as Faith is now. And for about the twelfth time today, I begin to cry.

Another rumination of mine on adoption: