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The First Look

I believe every mom has a memory in her mind of the first time she held her baby, and he looked at her. And here we are, my son Lior and me, right after his birth. When the nurse brought him to me, he went straight to my breast, and just when he was about to latch on, he turned around his little head and looked into my eyes. How can I forget this moment! It was like he was looking into my soul and recognized my whole being.

Luckily, my still-shaken husband could take this picture, and now I look at it as a piece of art. It’s hard to express in words a feeling like this.

Newborns can’t see clearly from long distances, but they can recognize their mother´s face when looking at her face from her breast. Mother Nature wisely made this happen, the same way your nipples and areolas turn darker during pregnancy, so your baby can easily find your breast and latch on to eat. And suddenly, you start sharing a part of your body with your baby, which in occasions works as a means to communicate with him.

I know it sounds crazy. How can breasts work as a telephone, or a media device? I remember the first time my son put his little hand on my breast, not so sure if he was caressing or squeezing it to get more milk - probably both - but I felt I had been waiting for that moment my whole life. I also have in my mind this funny scene, where he´s breastfeeding, and for an instant he stops to stare at me, with this adorable look like he’s thinking about something; then he smiles and goes back to work. It all happens in 5 seconds, and I just had a whole conversation with my little man.

I truly wish I had a camera installed on my forehead that could activate just with my mind, and that way I could treasure these little moments. Of course, we are light years from how it used to be with our parents. They only have a few pictures of me from when I was growing up. Compared to my children, only 4 and 1, who have tons of pictures all over my hard drive, my phone, so much more than any device can handle! So grateful for the invention of Dropbox and the Cloud!

But yet, I can count with one of my hands the pictures I have of me breastfeeding. How can this be possible? I have spent more time breastfeeding my children than any other thing while they were babies (Note: I’m still breastfeeding my little one), and almost no memories of that. I have literally recorded every milestone they reached; when they crawled, walked, each little word they’ve said, and each silly thing they have done since they were born; but very few nursing poses. We live in the culture of the selfies, and blink and take a pic, and then post it; but still, we keep these moments hidden from the public. I guess there are some things we should keep to ourselves. Or, are we ashamed of it?

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and at some point I stopped covering myself when I was breastfeeding in public. In part because my kid hated it, and there was no sense in keeping a baby wrapped in a blanket while I was sweating in a hot summer day (like most in Florida). But I must confess that I was looking for judging faces around, and even for outlined comments begging me to cover myself. Modesty is a funny word, with such an ephemeral meaning...

I could talk for years on some of the aberrations of society. On how a congresswoman who chooses to breastfeed her baby at work reaches international headlines, like she was the only woman in the world trying to balance her motherhood and professional roles. But I believe there's enough literature on that. I'm not trying to change society's views; I'm not even trying to change collective conscience. My point here goes straight to mothers. These moments are meaningful, they are part of your life, and somehow they define your relationship with your child. So, just stick to them, enjoy them, and keep them in photos, in smiles, in stories to tell… Don't hide them; eventually they will be forgotten. Be proud. Be proud, and not just about what you have done for your kid, but about what you became just by looking into his eyes, from the very first moment he came into your life, and gave you that first look.

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