If you had asked me ten years ago what I thought my life would be like in 2012, there are many things I never would have predicted. One of the biggest surprises to me is what a lactation geek I have become. I’ve been nursing a baby or toddler or both for 29 months now. I nursed through my entire second pregnancy (and beyond). I’ve read a ton of books about breastfeeding. I follow blogs about breastfeeding. I love breastfeeding. Of all the things I love about being a mom, nursing is one of the things I love the most of all. I have a good friend whose daughter is now 21. When she sees me nursing one of my sons she says, “Oh, I love that sound! I still have dreams where I’m nursing and they’re wonderful!” I fully anticipate that this will be me when my boys are grown. Nursing is just awesome.
Nursing is awesome. Those are three words I NEVER thought I would say.
I can distinctly remember the first time I saw someone breastfeeding a baby. I was 21 years old and having dinner at “a real adult’s” house my senior year in college. They had a newborn and as we sat around talking after dinner, she discreetly nursed her newborn at the table. My husband and I shook our heads and tsk-tsked on the way home – we just couldn’t believe someone would have the audacity to feed their baby in front of us. Ewwww! (P.S. This cracks me up so much now because we were in her house, for heaven’s sake – where was she supposed to feed her baby? In the bedroom? Ridiculous.)
I was not breastfed. My sister did not breastfeed her two children. My mom was not breastfed as a child. I can honestly say I grew up knowing absolutely nothing at all about breastfeeding. I knew that it existed, but I thought it was far outside the realm of normal behavior. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would do it. I remember learning about La Leche League at one point and thinking those crazy hippies were a bunch of freaks (P.S. Ha, ha ha! The irony! I wonder what my 15-year-old self would have to say about my 30-year-old self breastfeeding a 2 year old, while pregnant at a LLL meeting!).
As I got older and began to think seriously about having children, I knew I would formula-feed them. After all, I’m a professional woman and a feminist and I wanted my husband to be an equal partner in parenting our children. Plus, I still didn’t know anything about breastfeeding and formula seemed normal.
And now you’re wondering? How did she get from point A to point B? How does someone raised with almost no awareness of breastfeeding become a tandem nursing mama?
Well, I think it started like this: I was in a hospital one day doing an internship. I noticed a brochure about breastfeeding and I picked it up. It had a lot of information about how good breastmilk is for babies. This was a year before I got pregnant. It’s the first time I ever though to myself, “Hmmm, I should really learn more about this whole breastfeeding thing.”
And that was the turning point. Literally. It was a brochure. How crazy is that?
When I got pregnant, I signed up for childbirth classes at BABS because I wanted to have a natural birth. That pretty much sealed the deal. I was immersed in a culture where nursing was the norm, not the exception. All of my friends were planning on nursing their babies. I got lots of excellent, evidence-based information about why and how to breastfeed. I started thinking, “Hey, this sounds easier and cheaper than formula.” My husband and I talked about why we both wanted to use breastmilk instead of formula. We figured out other ways for him to be involved in parenting. My employer encouraged me to bring my baby to work with me, making it easy to continue breastfeeding that whole first year.
Before I knew it, a year plus had flown by. I loved nursing. I loved the bond it created with my child. I loved the simplicity and ease of it. I loved how it helped me get more sleep. And when we conceived again, it never occurred to me to wean my one-year-old. So, that’s how I ended up nursing a toddler over a very pregnant belly at a La Leche League meeting. I bet my 15-year-old self is grossed out beyond belief. And my 30-year-old self laughs at her and says, “Never say never, my dear.”