Disclaimer: Breastfeeding is a personal choice. I chose to breastfeed our baby and my body allowed me to do so. I know that some women don’t have this choice and/or chose to bottle-feed their baby. This post is not meant to persuade mothers for or against breastfeeding or ostracize either side. It is simply a reflection of my experience while nursing.
I breastfed Caroline for 13 months. I had planned to nurse C until she was one, but a cross-country flight to CA the day after her first birthday convinced me to nurse until we were back home in our normal routine. I learned a lot while breastfeeding...about Caroline, about myself, and about being a mother. Here are some thoughts on nursing:
For the first 13 months of her life, I was almost always with Caroline. Duh! But in a way, it was a wonderful feeling to know that I was providing for her in the best way that I knew how.
Of all the things I didn’t know about in the post-baby era, pumping (a process to extract breast milk with an electric apparatus) is definitely up on that list. I actually dumped the first batch of milk I pumped because I wasn’t prepared with the storage bags. #newmomproblems
Nursing in public has its challenges. However, the apparel to help women discreetly nurse is fabulous. This was THE most useful nursing apparel I owned: Bamboobies Chic Nursing Shawl (very functional, chic???...I'm not so sure I would wear it as a shawl if I wasn't nursing!). I also wore Cotton Nursing Camis and Medela Cotton Nursing Bras every day of that 13 month period.
A nursing cover is only great if you have it with you. There was ONE time when we were in Sam’s Club at the back of that huge, box store with no diaper bag, no nursing cover, and a screaming, hungry baby. What did I do?! The best thing I could think of...take a seat at the patio furniture that's on display and nurse our baby. True story.
I spent a lot of time in our comfy chair nursing. On my iPhone. Drinking SO much water. Reading Books to Caroline and myself. And sometimes watching The Ellen DeGeneres Show. My Mom says that nursing is God’s way of forcing new moms to sit down. :)
While running errands, the second seat of my car would become a makeshift “comfy chair” for me to nurse Caroline. I found myself nursing C in the car so that we could stay out and about to finish errands instead of being stuck in the house all of the time.
Nursing on an airplane in close quarters is challenging. But would you rather be sitting next to a screaming baby whose ears are popping? I didn’t think so. Caroline has flown to MN and CA. Both trips were successful thanks to nursing on take off/landing, friendly passengers surrounding us, a backpack full of toys/books, stickers, and a lot of snacks!
I woke up at 4am before running a half marathon to pump so that Caroline could have breakfast and I could decompress. Waking up so early to pump AND running the half were both good decisions.
After a year of nursing, Caroline was ready to wean, but it was me who wasn’t ready. I have really tried to embrace each stage of Caroline’s life instead of wishing for future stages or lamenting past ones. Well, I broke my own rule when it came to nursing. I cried at the end of the first full day that Caroline didn’t nurse. It was January 13, 2014. I didn’t cry because my body hurt (which it did from the lack of nursing). I cried because the bond of a nursing mother and baby is so special and I wasn’t ready to give that up quite yet.
I absolutely loved nursing Caroline. I wouldn’t change it for the world.