I can remember being pregnant with my first child, my son who is almost 13 years old, and knowing with full conviction that I would breastfeed him no matter what. I knew deep within my heart that I would overcome any challenges that I would have with breastfeeding, any challenges that I would have with family, friends, co-workers, or the general public. That despite all the controversy I would breastfeed my baby and I would do the best job that I could do, period.
Looking back, 13 years and four kids later, all 100% breastfed, I can honestly say that I have done that. I have learned how to prevent cracked, bleeding nipples. I have learned how to nurse a baby from sickness to health, and through a growth spurt. I have breastfed through three breast infections, using herbal remedies. I have breastfed all my babies in public even when all I wanted to do was to crawl under a rock and breastfeed in peace without critical eyes upon my bare chest. I have tandem nursed and I have breastfed into, and beyond, toddler-hood, until basically it was like, "Kindergarten starts next week, kid...it's time you moved on!"
I remember wondering if I was going to have enough milk and how to tell if my baby was getting enough. I remember how elated I was the first time my son latched on at the birthing center and started nursing for the very first time. How tears of joy spilled down my cheeks as the awesomeness of being able to sustain another human being with milk from my body became a reality.
I had so many questions. I read so many books, and listened to so many veteran moms, and of course my own mom, who gave to me freely all of her breastfeeding wisdom and who still gives to me, everyday, anything and everything I need or want to know about breastfeeding. Thank you, Mom.
I know what it is like to be pregnant and wonder, "Will I be able to breastfeed?" "Will I have enough milk?" "Will my baby latch on?" "What will people think?" "Will I be a good mother?" "Will it all be worth it?"
And I can honestly tell you that it is all worth it.
I breastfed my oldest son for four and a half years. I tandem nursed him and his sister for the last one and a half of those years. I had so much milk, it was amazing! I used to nurse him to sleep and then just lay there next to him in the bed, staring at his beauty. It was like I was in the presence of a deity--in awe of his creation. And here I was, able to keep that creation alive and thriving, with my milk. His beautiful little face would look up at me while nursing, his hand on my heart...
It was some of the most precious memories of my life.
And with each new child that my husband and I have had, it has been the same.
I will always remember the joys of breastfeeding.