Wetness is opportunity

By Kathy Abbott, IBCLC, Busy Moms Breastfeed / The Curious Lactivist

“Wetness is opportunity. It represents the openness of nature to what falls from heaven.”

(From the book “Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth” by William Bryant Logan)

The wetness of a kiss brings two people closer. The vagina moistens and lets in the penis to accept the heavy wet sperm. The sperm enters her waiting egg which is then enveloped by a warm watery sac. A laboring woman’s bag of waters breaks open moistening her birth canal. Even the wetness of her blood helps her baby to slip outside of her. Her wet baby lies on her chest and slides over towards her nipple. The mere smell and touch of his mother excites the babe and soon he drools his wet saliva onto her skin. He licks his lips in anticipation of what he does not know – something is coming, something wet and good that will make the move from his pickled womb to this dry, arid world easier to swallow. The first yellowy drop of colostrum appears enticing the baby to come closer.  Come closer.  “Wetness is opportunity.” Wetness is the beginning of life.

We tell mothers that her breast milk is important. It contains calories and vitamins, fats and protein.  It has antibodies and immune factors; it has “pre” and “pro” biotics. Scientists have spent millions of dollars analyzing tiny drops of milk constantly updating the ever growing list of important things they have found within. We have come to attach a certain scientific aloofness to the value of human milk. It can be measured and scrutinized, it can be bottled and contained, it can be put on a shelf and held till needed. It can be produced at will. But we forget that inherent in its wetness is opportunity, the chance to connect mother and baby together again. Like the wet kiss that spurred the conception of this little one’s life, the moment a baby suckles on its mother’s breast the two are reminded that for this moment ’you are mine and I am yours, yours alone.’

Wetness is opportunity. It provides the chance to grow. The mother holds her baby close and lets him suckle at will. Immediately her other breast begins to let down and her milk leaks out attracting the baby to that breast as well. “Come here. It is wet here. Can you smell it? You see? There is more to come.” And because of her wetness the mother is prompted to offer the baby more and the baby is happy to accommodate her. Her wetness encourages him to eat, and yet without her help he knows when he has had enough. And in this way the two begin a rhythm. They begin to get in sync.

Wetness is an opportunity to be assured that all is well. The baby’s tiny belly fills and releases, fills and releases, again and again. The wetness of his diaper tells his mother that everything is okay. Her milk has reached his belly. He has taken what he needs from it and has let go of what was left. The pee is not too yellow; the wet poops are no longer green or black.  And with each wet diaper that she changes she is reassured. “He is getting enough. We’re doing okay my baby and I, we’re going to be just fine.”

Each drop of wetness is an opportunity. The life source that surrounds us moves from drop towards precious drop. We are all connected by the wetness within. Our blood, our saliva, and the rest of our body’s many fluids, these are the things that make us alive, that make us human. It is our wetness, our milk, which we pass on to our babies to keep them alive as well. Each drop of wetness is an opportunity; an opportunity for connection, an opportunity for growth, an opportunity for reassurance. Each drop of wetness is an opportunity for life to be sustained.

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