At one point this evening, Valerie started to nurse furiously, gulping desperately like someone who had been wandering the desert for days and then finally found an oasis. Then she coughed, and back up it all came - an entire boob-full of milk all over me and her and all of our clothes. All I can think is that her tummy was hurting, and she thought she could make it feel better by drinking more milk. Poor little girl; most people don't learn until college that drinking until you get sick won't make your troubles go away.
We peeled off all of our wet clothes and climbed into the tub to clean up. Once we were washed, dried, diapered (one of us), and dressed, I picked her up and carried her back into the living room. As I did, she clung to my shirt, and her weight sank into me as I sat down and wrapped my arms around her.
In that moment, a wave of memories washed over me. I was a little girl, waking up in the night with a bad dream, or a tummy ache, or simply feeling alone. I would wander downstairs, rubbing my face as my eyes adjusted to the lights outside my bedroom, to find my mom. I would tell her that I needed a cuddle, then I would crawl up into her lap on the big, orange chair and sink, comforted, into her arms. There is no place like a mother's arms for a child who needs comfort, and something in the lingering smell of sick and baby soap, and the soft, but deliberate, weight of my daughter sinking into my arms brought that feeling back like I was a toddler all over again. And as I wrapped my arms around my child, rocking her and singing to her as her body started to relax, I wondered that, even though I'm now the mommy, the feeling of a comfort cuddle is remarkably the same.