When Your Milk Comes In, and You Don’t Have Your Baby

After my stillbirth, my milk came in— and I experienced the searing heartache when my breasts were full but my arms were empty.

I stood, knees shaking as liquid gold swirled around my feet and down the drain. Any mother that has breastfed or dreamed of breastfeeding a babe knows the inexplicable emotional attachment to the sustenance that flows to feed our babies.

I had the milk. But I didn’t have the baby.

My brain knew it. My heart certainly knew it. My body hadn’t yet gotten the memo.

The pain of the supply coming in was almost unbearable. Ace bandages, ice packs, cabbage leaves. I tried everything. I just wanted the milk…and the pain…to go away.

My tears mingled with milk as I cried out the words I hadn’t yet uttered to the God that already knew my heart was screaming it. WHY? This word escaped my lungs in a voice I didn’t recognize and felt strangely apart from.

My husband must have heard my cries from wherever he was…doing something…anything…to try to distract himself from the painful reality of this unwelcome week of our lives.

Standing in the shower, I was well in over my head in a deep, dark tsunami of grief. It came without warning. It came without an escape plan. I was paralyzed, unable to pull myself from the waves of WHY.

But he came. Without critique or question my husband pulled my shame soaked self and wrapped me in a fresh towel as I curled up on the floor by his feet. And, in that moment, he was more like Jesus to me than I have ever known him to be.

This was my moment. It wasn’t even at my son’s memorial service as we fought the temptation to take a peek into the casket of which size should not even have to exist.

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This was my moment. It wasn’t when I held the broken babe in my arms, lying in the hospital bed. I told the chaplain I was fine. And I meant it. I thought it was true.

Right now I was on a separate continent from fine. And my husband helped me realize that was perfectly okay. We experienced a real, heart-breaking, life-consuming tragedy. Without this moment, and, without others like it, I would never truly heal.

I cried and cried. I rested and requested to be held. I felt like a baby myself for a few days. Eventually the milk went away and the pain in my chest went with it, leaving only the merciless ache of loss.

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The truth in my soul told me that my babe was where he was written to be. As much as I hated to admit it, he didn’t need my loving arms or life-giving milk. He was looking up in unbridled awe at the Life Giver himself. He wasn’t that mangled up mess I had held in my palm. He was whole, healthy, perfect. The kind of thing he never could have been here.

The Why had an answer. Though not one I will ever fully grasp and one I certainly didn’t have a glimpse of on my knees in a puddle of milk.

I’ve had the wonderful gift of nursing my rainbow baby who took to it minutes after coming into the world with cries that rang sweet music to my soul. By the grace of God, my body brought forth life again. The milk came. It sustained my beautiful child.

And He sustained me, just as He always has, and always will, through the fear of growing a babe in a broken body and raising it in a broken world.

Amber Taube
Amber hails from the Buckeye state and resides with her high-school sweetheart and two Georgia peaches in Kathmandu, Nepal of all places. She considers herself a "missionary-wife and mom who writes" but dreams of earning the title, "Author." She writes transparently about how God empowers us in marriage, motherhood, and missional living at All Things Bright and Beautiful.

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