When I finally became pregnant, people frequently asked me, "Are you going to breastfeed?" My response was always a confident, "Yes!" But what I didn't say was, "Of course!" I already knew better than to say that, even though that was how I felt, because I knew it wasn't so cut-and-dried for everyone, and didn't want to offend. For me, the decision to nurse my baby was a no-brainer. I honestly didn't even want to consider the alternative.
But, not long into my pregnancy, I began modifying my answer to, "Yes, I plan to," or some derivative of that. It didn't take long for me to start to fret about if I would have the actual physical ability to breastfeed, and I didn't want to "jinx" myself with overconfidence. I also thought about the many, many women and babies out there who have had issues with nursing, and very much hoped we wouldn't join their ranks.
The strange thing is, I couldn't ever quite put into words during my pregnancy exactly why breastfeeding was so critically important to me. I was breastfed - I come from a long line of breastfed babies - so maybe it was bred into me. :) And yes, I could spew off all the research about how healthy is for the baby, what with the (almost) perfectly-formulated and immunity-boosting nutrition, and even the health benefits for the mom, but for me it was more personal than that. The decision to breastfeed just aligned precisely with my mama instincts, which seemingly were developing as quickly inside of me as my baby was.
In the beginning, it was somewhat challenging, partly because we had to use a shield (for about 2 months), but mostly because I was rather fanatical about recording the occurrence and duration of every feeding, and stressed when he often wanted to feed more often than what I understood was "normal." I look back on that time now and laugh at myself for seriously overthinking it, but my intentions were good - obviously I wanted to ensure Cal was getting enough to eat. I had tried to educate myself about nursing as much as possible, but I tried too hard to conform to some sort of "ideal" schedule, rather than just let it flow (no pun intended) naturally.
It didn't come until a little later, once we got to know each other and settled into a good groove, that I could fully understand breastfeeding's importance to me. Nursing quickly became an amazing bonding experience for us, and not just a means to a full belly. I was (and still am) astounded for my body's ability to provide my baby's nourishment, for his innate instinct to latch, and most of all, by the wonderfully deep connection I feel with him when we nurse. Of course, I feel that for him all the time, but when he nurses, it's somehow even more intense. Some of my most favorite things about him happen then - how he wraps his fingers around mine, the way he gazes into my eyes (assuming he hasn't fallen asleep, lol) and the adorable little noises he often makes. This connection, this incredible bond means the world to me, and I am so humbled by it every day. And I couldn't be more grateful for it.
|my healthy, breastfed boy|