Today I was looking for a photograph to illustrate a quick "have a wonderful weekend" sort of post. I'm wiped out and didn't think I had a proper blog post in me tonight. I found these photos and I pulled them into the page and was about to type my words.
And only after I set them into the post did I realize their significance.
The scene, made by Lupine last week, is a circle of mothers around a smiling baby. (It has a bit of a baby Jesus feel, but Lupine told me no, they were all the mamas and the baby was a tiny girl.)
Because sometimes it's like that. So many mamas surrounding one child with love.
The past few days have been both amazing and exhausting. I've seen an incredible community of women throughout our town and even our state rally together to love and support a family – a mama and baby – in need.
An emergency left a breastfed baby without access to her mama's milk. Formula (the first night), yes, but no nourishing mother's milk. As soon as we heard what was happening we reached out – do you need breastmilk? Yes. So we made phone calls, facebook pleas, and sent emails. And from that spark a fire spread through a beautiful community of women who reached out to other mothers and within hours that baby was in arms and nursing contentedly with another mama. Soon more milk arrived, pumped by local women and before long baby was contentedly sleeping with a belly full of love.
Three days later and dozens of mothers have joined in along with other members of the community – pumping milk, nursing baby, plowing snow, scheduling meals, hauling firewood, stoking woodstoves, and otherwise encircling this family with love. Others are coordinating to drop off loaner breast pumps, distribute homemade mother's milk tea, clean the family's home, and transport milk to the baby.
I think we're surrounded by angels. (Most of them lactating.)
The milk has continued to flow. Not a drop of formula has been seen since the call went out that help was needed. Local milk deliveries are happening a couple of times a day and even a few coolers of milk are en route from around the state to keep baby nourished until her mama can return home. I think it's fair to say that we've all been brought to tears over this incredible support. Oh, yes. The power of the mamas.
I'm tired. I'm ready to step away from my telephone and the computer for a while. But really, I feel full. I feel honored to be participating in such an incredible demonstration of love.
I'm grateful, exhausted, honored, and humbled. Somehow it all makes me feel small. But in a good way – in a "there is something much bigger than me happening" kind of way.
I feel blessed beyond words.
Thank you, amazing milk brigade mamas. You are my heroes.
(And mama, your baby is in the most loving hands. Heal well and come home soon. You are all so very loved. xo)
P.S. (Posted a couple of weeks later: See the father's musical tribute to these amazing mamas at the bottom of this post. You will cry. Then laugh. Then cry some more.)
I've gone a bit further with this conversation over here, reflecting on the support of breastfeeding mothers in our society and our own judgement we might carry on breast or bottle.