When I was pregnant, I read everything I could about natural births, a birth plan, midwifery, labor, doulas, the whole shebang...but I didn’t even begin to prepare for what it was going to be like once my son was actually born. I knew we would breastfeed though & I always pictured myself breastfeeding for 12 months. For some reason, that always sounded like the magical number--12 months; a whole year, an even number, what most US doctors recommend. But our journey lasted 27 months, more than double what I had planned, and it truly was such an amazing experience.
I had my son all-naturally on June 8, 2013 at 11:28 pm. He was born sunny-side-up 32 minutes before his due date, after a long 24-hour labor, and he took to nursing like he was meant for it. I will never forget that first latch--it was like an insane vacuum sensation I couldn’t have ever even imagined.
After a full day & night of nursing, my poor boobs looked like they’d been through a lot. I had cracked nipples, they were bruised, and my son was still starving. He was born weighing 8 pounds 11 ounces & left the hospital at just over 9 pounds on the second day (most babies lose a few ounces over the first couple of days of life), so he really was good at this nursing thing.
After a few more days of wincing (& practically crying) every time he latched, I talked to a neighbor who I still think of as my breastfeeding angel. She said she had had a similar issue with cracked & bruised nipples with her firstborn, and she highly recommended a nipple shield. I went the next day & bought one and although it took about a month of continuously using the shield, my cracks & bruises eventually healed up & I was able to nurse without the shield anymore.
The first few weeks of being a new mom, I really had my nursing routine set-up. I would nurse Lennox in my rocking chair, with lots of pillows & snacks around, and be held captive for hours on end. After a couple weeks of feeling like I was a prisoner of this blue chair, I knew something had to change. I started putting Lennox in his Ergo for feedings & it literally changed the way I felt about nursing. I could cook, vacuum, and wash my face (!) now, all with him nursing or sleeping contently in his little “pouch,” as my husband & I called it.
I never really thought that I would be so pro-breastfeeding wherever baby gets hungry, but it came really naturally to me. Although my nursing started out at home, I eventually got the courage to start nursing him in public, too. At first it was with a cover, but Lennox hated being covered up, so after the first few times of him continuously throwing the cover off, I started wearing 2 shirts to nurse & just used the cover more as a swaddle, with his little head still sticking out.
No one in my family nursed, and my mother-in-law only nursed her 4th for a few months, so I’ve really had to educate my family on how normal it is for a child to self-wean. We got lots of comments about how Lennox was “too old” & “was never going to quit on his own” but we kept doing what felt right for us. After Lennox’s second birthday, I knew he was starting to use nursing more for comfort than for food--he could go all day without “booby milk” but wanted it at least 3 times throughout the night still--so we started talking about “booby milk” slowly starting to go away. It was a few month processes, but Lennox slowly cut out his night feedings & the early-morning one was the last to go. I’ll never forget his last time nursing--he was just finished & I could tell. It was so bittersweet but after 27 months, that part of our relationship had come to an end.