You all know how I love breastfeeding in theory. I was crazy about the idea of breastfeeding prior to my actually having a baby. I craved it even. I loved spouting out my knowledge of breastfeeding: the health benefits, the emotional benefits, the environmental benefits. I boycotted Nestle for a good three years in high school and college. Tim wrote a song about breastfeeding for me (I can't remember all the words exactly, but I know it goes something like: "she thinks formula is evil/wouldn't feed it to a dog/if you want to see her breastfeed/you can see it on her blog...")
And before I had a baby, I had a slightly inescapable fear of breastfeeding failure. I was so nervous that something would not work. But on the other hand I actually had complete and utter faith in my abilities as a woman to produce milk and the faith extended to my baby's ability to latch on. In the hospital, a number of woman tried to coach me since Amir was in the NICU and could not eat for the first 24 hours; I shooed them away (because actually, they were just getting in the way) and latched him right on and he was awesome. Tim took ample video and pictures (hundreds) of our blossoming breastfeeding relationship. We have some great pictures of the very first time, my little ball of flesh and bones all nestled up close to my chest. It was the moment I had anticipated and imagined for years. And it was as momentous as expected.
And to be honest, I've loved 99% of the moments. There has been biting, there's been mastitis (many, many times) and sore nipples and clogged ducts and nights where I'm exhausted and cannot bear the thought of waking up every two hours to feed my ten-month-old when we could have just stopped months ago and it would have been fine. But I'm so glad we didn't, I know that he loves it just as much as I do and that idea makes me love it all the more.
Now, as Amir is creeping up on his first birthday, we're still on a 8-12 times a day nursing schedule. I would say almost all of his nutrition is still from breast milk, he has the occasional meal or snack, but not regularly and not nearly enough to stem his appetite for milk. I know that right now it's still the healthiest (and most environmentally-friendly!) way to nourish him, and quite frankly, it's the easiest for me as well. It's not always convenient in public, but somehow we've made it work.
I was prompted to write this post when my friend Bridget asked me at Church if I was still nursing Amir. For some reason, I had not even considered the idea I would NOT still be nursing him. But then I realized our breastfeeding relationship at this stage is a rare one for women and babies in our country (the U.S.) and our culture. The other mom sitting by had recently weaned her baby who is a few months younger than Amir and was praising the child-rearing gods for no longer having to nurse. I hesitated and remained silent on the matter, but inside I was comparing her attitude to my own. I do not want to wean my baby, not now and not really ever (though I realize I must, and we've set a flexible timeline of two years old). For me, breastfeeding is the most convenient and most fulfilling part of my mothering duties. I love being out and not having to worry about bottle/formula/clean water/baby food but instead just whipping up my shirt and guiding the ravenous little mouth. I've become so comfortable nursing in public discreetly that the other day I fed the kid and then realized I was sitting on a couch with two male BYU students with two others across from us and didn't even really think about it being awkward until after the fact (sorry if you were there, sorry if I offended you, but not really sorry because I was very discreet and my baby was hungry).
So, I think this is were I'm supposed to draw broad conclusions or pass judgments. I love breastfeeding, we're still going strong and probably will be for a while. But mostly I wrote this for Bridget because I wasn't open about my passion for breastfeeding and I wanted to clarify my position.