I don't talk about breastfeeding anymore. I hardly think of it. It is a natural thing for us now. The only time it became an issue recently was when the doctor asked me if I would wean Henry so he could change my medications for my endometriosis. My immediate reaction was NO. I am not ready! I LOVE nursing Henry. It is not something I am ready to give up. Then last week my blogging friend April started talking about breastfeeding. She has one year old twins and her road to breastfeeding was much more difficult than mine due to her boys being born extremely early and them being in the NICU. She is a proud breastfeeding mother of twins, and honestly she is amazing to me. She is fighting Facebook on if a picture of a breastfeeding mother nursing her child is sexually offensive material. In one of her last posts she challenged other breastfeeding moms to talk about the fact that they nurse their babies. To discuss what it means to them. So here I am.
Of all the things that I have done with Henry since he was born, breastfeeding him is one of the things I am most proud of. I feel like I always need to pepper these kinds of posts with "I know breastfeeding isn't for everyone" or "It is FINE to use formula" and I truly believe those things. Don't take this post to be bashing the use of bottles or formula. I never want to make bottle feeding mothers feel bad about their want or need to use formula. I know breastfeeding isn't always best for everyone, and every mother needs to choose what works best to keep their baby happy and healthy. But for me, breastfeeding was very important. It was something I wanted for myself and for my baby. I think a large part of me wanted to feel successful at something that was suppose to be natural for my body after all of our struggles with infertility. I wanted it to work. I needed it to work. So when it didn't come easy for us, and the option of dig my heals in and fight or give up and use formula was offered, I dug in. And now, ten months later, it was the very best decision for our family.
I have a clear memory of having Henry in the ER when he was six weeks old. The pediatrician walked in and I was nursing him. He said that I was giving Henry the very best medication available. He told me that breastfeeding was the soul reason Henry was not being admitted to the hospital. That by nursing my baby I was helping to keep him healthy. I was making him better. That was so huge to us. I had heard that breast milk was best for babies, but here it was, an actual example of breastfeeding being the best choice for him. From then on Henry has had very few illnesses. He is a very healthy happy ten month old, and I give some of the credit for that to the fact that he is breastfed.
I am not a shy breastfeeder. I will nurse in public and honestly don't give it much thought. I try to be discrete. If I know I will be nursing I try to chose the seat the most out of the line of sight of the general public. I don't flaunt it. But I don't run to a bathroom stall to hide as I feed Henry. I used to try to cover him with a blanket, but then I realize it was uncomfortable for him. He was hot, he was distracted, he wasn't eating well. Off came the blanket. I am a discrete nurser, but I am not a closet nurser. I do what is best for Henry, and that it to feed him when it is time, no matter where we are. Not to cover him and distract him, but just to feed him as quickly and privately as possible.
A nursing mother gives a lot of themselves into the job of nursing. I don't think many people who haven't done it really realize that. I am tied to Henry at all times. This past Saturday I went out to lunch with some of my family and I left Henry home with Nick. It was as if a clock was started when I walked out the door. He needed me home in a few hours. And my body needed him to nurse in the same amount of time. Henry never sleeps away from the house. Nick and I don't take nights off of parenting. By breastfeeding I made a commitment to him that he comes first every single day for his first year. Every four hours we will be together or we will have a plan. It takes planning. It take commitment. It takes the desire to continue doing it. It doesn't seem hard for us because it is so important to us.
I love breastfeeding Henry and he loves nursing. I can honestly say that as his first year winds down and I start to think of weaning him, it makes my heart sad. This is our time and we can't get it back. Soon he will be running around playing and the fact that I breastfed him will be a thing of the past. But I will always remember. I will remember how it kept him out of the hospital. I will remember how it made us closer. I will remember how it taught me patients and how it taught me to slow down, how it taught me that his needs are greater than my own. It has been so good for him, but it has been even better for me. The time, the planning, the commitment, it is all worth it. It may not be for everyone, but I am so glad it was for us.