This morning, I was nursing Tommy on the couch and reading everyone's posts about World Breastfeeding Week (I love it when life is meta). I did a little math and combined, I've been breastfeeding for a total of 34 months--almost three years. Nursing Luke is something I've spoken about before, about how something I thought was natural was, at times, anything but. It was hard for us. Painful at times, as I fought a constant battle with plugged ducts and mastitis and bad latches.
Then Tommy was born, and he did what I thought all babies did... he latched, sure and strong, like he was born to nurse. And he was, but of course, that comes with its own set of problems. Our first night together, I begged Shane to take him and let him suck on his pinky for just a few minutes, because I needed a break so badly. Yet, I was so thankful that he did it all on his own, that no one had to help him latch. I worried that he he would regress like Luke did, but he kept going strong. He's still going strong.
Then there's work. And pumping and working? It's hard, but it's doable. If you're reading this, please know that it's doable. So many women quit nursing because they return to work, and I get that it's daunting. Do I ever. But I worked and pumped with both boys, continuing to pump until they were a year old. Something about knowing that I could provide this nourishment for them even when we weren't together really kept me going--helped me ignore the comments from co-workers who didn't understand why I'd make a choice that they saw as difficult, unfulfilling (it was one of the most fulfilling choices I've ever made).
I think that nursing my boys is pretty special. It doesn't mean that I look down on women who don't, though. I know that we all have our own decisions and our own choices that are best for us. For me, THIS was best, in so many ways the only option. And yes, I'm glad that I've done it this way. It's given me a lot of quiet, beautiful memories. It's strengthened the bond between myself and my husband, in the way that he's proud of what I've done for our children. I'll always remember the way I felt when both boys nursed for the first time, the way Luke would gently pat my chest, the way Tommy's eyelids flutter and his body settles into mine as his hand creeps toward my mouth.
This will forever be one of my favorite photos (apparently I used it in last year's WBW post). Tommy, but a week old nursing under a shady tree in the park, while Luke played on the slides.