I wish I had started writing this post when D was tinier so I could accurately detail how the early days of breastfeeding went for us. I don't remember specific dark days, but I do remember sitting in the rocker one night when he was wee, feeding my tiny baby for hours on end. We were both crying, my nipples ached, and I was exhausted. I remember thinking I wanted to make it 6 months of breastfeeding, and counting the days until I could stop. Six months seemed impossible. Day by day, with a visit from a lactation consultant, things started to look up.
He was not the best latcher at the start, but he was enthusiastic and I was determined. When nothing else soothed him, boob did. That remained true for many, many months. I sometimes have a sinking feeling he'll be 10, scrape his knee and ask for boob.
(Note to any new parents out there: come up with a better thing to call it than "boob" because he'll be asking for it in public. It's too late for us, but maybe others can be smarter.)
Our marathon nursing sessions shortened as D aged, of course, and we both got better at nursing. I fed him everywhere because he was so fussy- Target, the grocery store, the mall, on hikes, doctor's offices, friend's homes, restaurants. I stopped using a cover pretty early on. It was unwieldy and made the whole thing an ordeal. I never thought I'd be comfortable whipping out my boob in public, but feeding a hungry baby changes things. Learning to nurse in the baby carrier was essential. Nursing plus walking soothed him asleep many times.
There were random hard times, like when D stopped being able to focus and eat in public, and I spent hours at friends homes sitting in a dark room, willing him to nurse so he'd calm down, but he was unable to nurse because he was too riled up. Then when he learned to stand around 8 months and suddenly nursing sessions became an effort to wrangle my not-so-tiny-anymore rascal enough to keep him from climbing all over my body while latched (ouch). His latch quality suffered while teething, but he also soothed teething pain with lots of nursing, so I endured a few bites along the way. Gentle corrections helped nip (pun!) that in the bud pretty quickly.
I have no idea what breastfeeding looks like for us going forward, but I know he's not quitting anytime soon, and I'm not keen to stop. Breastfeeding is my most useful parenting tool, by far. It soothes him to sleep and when he's hurt or grumpy. I'm beyond proud of myself to have nourished this sweet little guy for a year. I couldn't have made it this far without my supportive husband and family who have sat in the car or nursing room with me many times while D ate, brought me food and drink, waited patiently for us to finish nursing so we could go somewhere, and generally made sure things were going ok. This hasn't always been easy but it has been so, so worth it. Nurse on, Little Man.