Friday, April 5, 2013


I saw a story about a baby gorilla named Gladys this week. Gladys' mum wanted nothing to do with her when she was born so Gladys' human caregivers took over mothering her in order to save her life. They wear a furry gorilla vest, carry her on their backs, grunt, groom, and feed little Gladys. Baby Gladys is thriving and will hopefully be adopted by another female gorilla when she is older.

Unorthodox? Yes. Crucial? Absolutely.

The story was heartwarming and a bit comical with images of a grown man in a monkey vest loving up on this little gorilla.

Gladys reminds me of Katie.

My natural instinct is to breastfeed my babies, to cosleep and coddle and meet their needs before they know they are in need. Dylan refused pacifiers but found comfort in nursing and so nursed around the clock. Aside from the first two weeks of cringing through painful nipples I adored breastfeeding and was devastated when I made the decision to wean him at eighteen months old. He wasn't grasping the concept of solid food and we wanted to start trying for a second child and however heartbreaking weaning was for both of us, it was time. I took solace in knowing that I would be able to nurse Dylan's sibling.

But then I was diagnosed with cancer and told I would have less than a month to breastfeed my baby before needing aggressive treatment.

Hearing the doctor tell me that the lump was cancerous was hard but having him say I could not provide for my child was worse.

[straps on gorilla suit]

So I had to find alternative methods of caring for Kate. Her kitten Wubanub pacifier is a great solution because she can fulfill her desire to suck while feeling comforted holding her stuffed animal.

Last night as we cuddled on the couch she reached for my breast, looking up at me with a puzzled look on her face as if to ask me why she was no longer allowed to feed here. She remembers.

Today I sewed one of her pacifiers to her new beanbag bunny and she spent most of the afternoon clutching it close.

I cannot care for Kate with my body now but I can provide her nourishment and comfort. Coming to this realization that she will thrive without nursing took some time, but Kate--and Gladys--will simply do things a little differently. But no matter how they find comfort the important thing is that they feel loved.