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When I Had the Milk, But I Didn't Have the Baby

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I stood, knees shaking as liquid gold swirled around my feet and down the drain. Any mother that has breastfed or dreamed of breastfeeding a babe knows the inexplicable emotional attachment to the sustenance that flows to feed our babies.

I had the milk. But I didn’t have the baby.

My brain knew it. My heart certainly knew it. My body hadn’t yet gotten the memo.

The pain of the supply coming in was almost unbearable. Ace bandages, ice packs, cabbage leaves. I tried everything. I just wanted the milk… and the pain… to go away.

My tears mingled with milk as I cried out the words I hadn’t yet uttered to the God that already knew my heart was screaming it. Why? This word escaped my lungs in a voice I didn’t recognize and felt strangely apart from.

My husband must have heard my cries from wherever he was… doing something… anything… to try to distract himself from the painful reality of this unwelcome week of our lives.

Standing in the shower, I was well in over my head in a deep, dark tsunami of grief. It came without warning. It came without an escape plan. I felt paralyzed, unable to pull myself from the waves of why.

But he came. Without critique or question my husband pulled my shame-soaked self and wrapped me in a fresh towel as I curled up on the floor by his feet.

This was my moment. It wasn’t even at my son’s memorial service as we fought the temptation to take a peek into the casket of which size should not even have to exist.

This was my moment. It wasn’t when I held the baby in my arms, lying in the hospital bed. I told the chaplain I was fine. And I meant it. I thought it was true.

man and woman in hospital bed holding baby

Right now I was on a separate continent from fine. And my husband helped me realize that was perfectly OK. We experienced a real, heart-breaking, life-consuming tragedy. Without this moment, and, without others like it, I would never truly heal.

I cried and cried. I rested and requested to be held. I felt like a baby myself for a few days. Eventually the milk went away and the pain in my chest went with it, leaving only the merciless ache of loss.

The truth in my soul told me that my babe was where he was written to be. He was in a better place. He was whole, healthy — what he couldn’t have been here.

The “why” had an answer. Though not one I will ever fully grasp and one I certainly didn’t have a glimpse of on my knees in a puddle of milk.

I’ve had the wonderful gift of nursing my rainbow baby who took to it minutes after coming into the world with cries that rang sweet music to my soul. By the grace of God, my body brought forth life again. The milk came again, and it sustained my beautiful child.

Originally published: September 16, 2016
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