It Takes as Long as It Takes

I sometimes run behind schedule. Sometimes I run so far behind schedule that I am grateful to have a 30 minute lunch buffer I can run over. 

I often find myself catching up on charting and billing at the end of the week, rather than closing out each encounter the day it happens.

This poor practice has many disadvantages and it has burdened me with shame my whole career.

The only way I have learned to balance the shame of “not doing it the right way” is to honor the parts of me that know why I do what I do in the way that I do it.

Mostly, when I spend more than the allotted 60 minutes in an appointment, it is because I’ve lost track of time while deep in the work.

I sometimes allow myself to get lost in the boob tunnel. 

More recently, I have become lost in the fascia of babies.

By “lost in” I actually mean “more deeply exploring” and most often “finding the answer in the unknown.”

I don’t know how long that takes. It doesn’t matter. It takes as long as it takes.

It takes as long as it takes could be one of the truths I feel in my bones. Patience. 

At 41 years old, I embody patience. Certainly, it is my twenty years of service to the work of breastfeeding that has taught me patience. 

Me, Katie, a child who was very often told, “DON’T RUSH!!” 

Because I was always in such a rush to grow up and have a meaningful nursing career, get married, naturally birth, and breastfeed the most perfect baby there ever was.

And I did just that.  I rushed to that exact perfect moment at the age of 24. Luckily, it was breastfeeding Lucy that slowed me way down. I loved Lucy so much I was desperate for time to move backwards. Every day newborn baby Lucy grew a day older, it felt like my heart was tearing. Like a sharp ripping in my chest. I felt them move further away from my body with each passing day.

No more rushing. 

If I couldn’t have the past, I wanted to soak in the present. When I was breastfeeding, I was right there, right then. Whether I remember it or not, I am certain that if I was nursing Lucy, I was there with Lucy.

Like a drug, breastfeeding protected us. It surrounded us in love amidst the sea of rough, churning waters of my divorce. We slept together, we nursed together, we stayed together.

I am so grateful for the long slow wean. I remember the last time, and it was just right.

Once I weaned, I sped through my career and many other parts of my life, but I still carried the heartache of the inevitability of time as I watched my baby turn to a child, then turn to a teen. The intensity of the heart ache has not diminished, but the quality of the pain has evolved from the sharp ripping of heart strings in early postpartum to what I know to date, seventeen years postpartum, as a deep, guttural churn in the core of my being. It feels like the dread of inevitable homesickness before leaving home. I remember feeling it as a child on the long drive to sleep away camp. 

I still balance this pain by staying with the slowness required to stay with breastfeeding. 

So, it is the work itself, breastfeeding, that deepened my practice of sitting with the fullness of each moment. Staying with the progression of each breastfeeding encounter, trusting it will eventually come full circle and close. It will complete eventually, but it really does take widely varying amounts of time. In fact, in my work, if we rush it, we miss it.

So, when we step into breastfeeding space, I embody patience.  

My embodiment invites everyone else’s bodies to slow down, settle in, and feel me say, “hey, there’s no rush when we’re breastfeeding. It takes as long as it takes.”