A few days after the birth of her second child, Martha received a phone call; “Hello this is Linda, the Lactition from the hospital, how is everything going?”
“OK… but, I don’t seem to have enough milk and sometimes I have to supplement with formula.”
Linda was scandalized, “No, no, no don’t give her formula it will confuse her.”
“I know and I don’t want to stop nursing but I really don’t have any breast milk and she cries all the time.”
“How often are you trying to nurse her?” Linda inquired.
“About every two hours now.”
“Martha you’re going to have to feed her more often, the more you feed her the more you’ll produce.” Linda continued with suggestions trying to convince Martha to give up the bottle all together.
Martha’s mind was lingering over ‘more than every two hours’ thinking this wasn’t her cup of tea anyway, she opened her mouth to say so…Linda was still speaking. “Nursing gives the baby antibodies that ward off sickness…”
Being a new mother with an active two year old, Martha didn’t have time just to sit around and nurse. That felt like wasting time to her. She was used to accomplishing much more in the course of her day. Sitting still felt unproductive.
“Martha, are you there?”
“Oh, excuse me, yes I’m here. Yes, I’ll try. Thanks.” Martha felt a little guilty brushing her off. Anyway, the baby was crying.
Martha picked up her crying infant and sat in the rocker, “OK you little lamb, let’s give this another try.”
“Ouch!” “Why does this have to hurt?” Martha laid her head back and tried to relax as a book was shoved at her.
“Lap,” demanded her oldest daughter.
“Cathy I can’t hold you in my lap right now.”
“Mommy, read me!”
“OK, but you sit here in your chair and I’ll read while I feed your sister.”
Opening the book Martha read, “Jesus said ‘Feed my sheep’.” “Hmmm, how about that, Cathy”
“Sheep,” Cathy, the excited two year old, squealed. Martha put her finger to her lips signaling her to be quieter. Cathy jumped from her chair and ran off looking for more sheep.
Martha continued rocking, thinking of the time that Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep. “Hmmm, it’s a lot like breast feeding.” Martha could hear toys landing all over the floor as Cathy emptied the toy box.
She sighed, and continued thinking, “here was Peter a fisherman, what could he know about sheep?”
After denying Jesus three times, Peter must have felt honored. Jesus would speak to him much less give him an assignment. “Feed my sheep,” Three times, once for each denial.
It occurred to Martha that Peter was quite dry, and she remembered Linda’s words “Keep nursing, nursing stimulates production.”
Switching the baby gave Martha an opportunity to check on Cathy, who was busy making a mess. She settled back into the chair, just as the baby was about to protest. The hungry newborn ‘latched on” and Martha experienced another contraction shoot through her, an indication that she was healing. “Well Linda said, as I breast feed I would heal quicker.”
Perhaps the Lord was acting as Peter’s Lactition and handing him a prescription that worked for both. He had encountered a healthy immune system, recorded by a physcian, “To whom much is forgiven the same loves much.” Jesus charged Peter to take the love he had for Him and nurture His children with it.
“What intimacy,” thought Martha, “that Jesus would teach Peter to draw out the breast and in return receive healing in the deepest part of his soul. It sounds funny thinking about a man nursing but how better to teach Peter what John already knew. That the breast covers the heart.”
Martha was aware of how rhythmic her heartbeat and that of her child’s became during these times of nursing. They beat as one causing Martha to wonder if John, “disciple whom Jesus loved,” could sense that very thing.
Being nurtured at the breast and sharing one heartbeat, building up a spiritual immunity against disease; maybe if Peter remained a little closer to the breast of Jesus he wouldn’t have denied knowing him. Their heart would have beat as one.
It occurred to Martha how she and Peter had something else in common, that breast-feeding teaches us all to love beyond the pain.
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