When I get to heaven, the first thing I’ll ask God is why He made breastfeeding so difficult. And the thing is, I’m not even a woman. I don’t have breasts, or milk. I have red chest hair. When I ask this question, I imagine God will look confused and say, “How do you spell your last name?”
Before I confuse you, I suppose I should give you a bit of context regarding this breastfeeding conversation. My wife and I had twins approximately 14 months ago (although I originally wrote this when they were 4 days old). They are the coolest kids of all time. Much cooler than your kids, and smarter too (relax, I’m mostly kidding). One of them already knows Spanish (Rosetta Stone). The thing about twins is, they must eat. In fact, they insist upon it. And since I’m the one in the relationship who has red chest hair, my wife is in charge of the nourishment department.
There are lots of nurses at the hospital. And nurses are incredible people. Anyone who gets peed on by an adult and still shows up for work the next day is pretty special in my book. After our kids made their arrival and taught the doctor how to say ‘Bathroom’ en espanol, we were forced to stay at the hospital for a number of days. When I say ‘a number of days’, I mean more than one, and too many. Needless to say, we met a lot of nurses. We met delivery nurses, recovery nurses, nurses who changed the sheets, nurses who changed bandages, nursery nurses, and nurses in white coats – almost like doctors.
One particular night, we found ourselves in a bit of a situation. My kids were hungry from being so awesome, but there was trouble in the nourishment department. In fact, I’ll go as far to say there was quite a bit of frustration stirring in the nourishment department. So we called nurses. We called specialized nurses, ones who had the word ‘lactation’ on their name tags (which made me giggle, I admit). We even called the nurses in white coats, the ones who look like doctors. But these nurses were busy. As it turns out, there were other patients staying at the hospital as well, and some of them also had breasts. They couldn’t really take the time to help us.
But then there was Betty. Betty worked in the nursery. Her job was to take care of babies while everyone else slept. She had been a nurse for over 30 years and had lots of cool, old-lady type stories. When she walked in, she could sense the frustration, she knew the tears were about to flow. So at 4 am, Betty stayed with us. She helped us. She taught us things and relieved frustration. She was like an angel, like Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman after she moved to the ‘Hallmark’ channel. And it wasn’t even her department really, it wasn’t her place or even her job to help us. She didn’t have a special name tag or a white coat, but she knew how to help people. She decided to make a difference with her 12 hour shift.
We all have shifts, right? Maybe they’re not all 12 hour shifts like nurses, maybe it’s just 8 hours during the day, or 4 during the night. And when we get home we have shifts too. We have shifts with family and friends, with waiters and waitresses. Betty taught me a lot about shifts. She saw her shift as an opportunity to help people. Each interaction was a chance for her to love and teach and relieve frustration.
So what if we saw each day as a new shift? What if we looked at each daily interaction as an opportunity to love and teach and help? Because the thing is, people matter. Everyone we come in contact with has a story, a frustration, a problem, a need, maybe even brand new twins. And if we look close enough, and are willing to take the time, we can help, we can make a difference, like Betty.