Did you know that this week was World Breastfeeding Week? It was! You probably already know this: I am CRAZY about breastfeeding! I seriously think it’s the best thing ever. First of all, it’s best for baby. It offers him tons of benefits that formula can’t even begin to replicate. Secondly, it’s freaking easy! I don’t have to mix it! I don’t have to warm it up! I don’t have to keep it cold! I don’t have to wash bottles! Thirdly, it’s FREE! That alone would be enough to make me use it!
I have been breastfeeding for just shy of a year and a half. Yes, there have been roadblocks. Yes, there have been days when I’ve sobbed over sore, overworked nipples. But, it is SO worth it. I have an iron-clad excuse to walk around all day (ok, when at home and we don’t have company) half naked, and I do. I usually just wear a shirt with no bra so that H has easy access to snacks. And snack he does! We nurse before we get out of bed in the morning. We nurse during breakfast. We nurse after breakfast. We nurse during naps… get the picture? When we’re on the floor playing he will stop for a minute, crawl over to me, lift up my shirt and help himself to a snack. When we are taking our evening bath together he will turn around occasionally to get a pull or two of the old BM. When I’m carrying him around the house, he will lift up my shirt and help himself to a drag.
And I love it. I FREAKING love it! I am nourishing my baby!! I am helping him grow up big and strong and smart! He innately knows that if he is hungry or in need of comfort he can come to me and I will without a doubt provide it. But please don’t get the idea that the only way he can derive comfort from me is at the breast. That just so isn’t true. When we are out, he is content to have a cup of water and snuggle in my arms. When I am having a bad day and can’t stand my girls being used as a pacifier for one more second he is content with kisses. But, he knows that if he truly needs it and lets me know, that even if my nipples are cracked and bleeding from him CHOMPING down on them five minutes ago that I will give him what he needs. I’m his mother, of course I will!
I remember when he was a teeny-tiny little burrito who insisted on nursing EVERY hour, day and night & I got so frustrated and tired that I cried. A lot. I thought “THIS IS SO FUCKING HARD?! HOW IS IT WORTH ALL THE FRUSTRATION/PAIN/NO SLEEP?” Well, I am so glad I prevailed! It got better: He nursed less often! He slept more! He got bigger and my girls no longer crushed him! My hands got used to holding my boobs out for him. He got big enough for me to nurse him lying down without him being suffocated by my boobs. In short, we figured it out. We worked together and figured it out!
When he was six months old, I started feeding him a few purees, but not often. He liked them, still does. Even now that I am offering him table food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, & snacks he doesn’t eat that much. Some days he doesn’t eat any “real” food at all! Yes: my baby is one and a half and I only feed him table food as a supplement to breast milk. He gets a bite of whatever I’m eating at the time, if he wants it. Some days – if he wants to – he eats a lot. Most days he eats a little. And guess what! Breastmilk is enough for him. He is growing. He is strong. Trust me on this: he is not starving! And he is getting waaaay more nutrients through my milk than if he were strictly or mostly eating table food.
Yes, some days it is hard. Some days I think to myself, “what the hell is wrong with me???” My boobs get sore. I get tired of being touched. But it’s on those days that I remind myself that all too soon he is not going to want those snuggles or those milky kisses. All too soon he is going to want independence and a bowl of cherries instead of being confined to my smothering embrace. And stifling my tears I tell myself that I will nourish my baby at my breast until he will have it no more.