There was something ingrained in me and I knew I would nurse my baby from the moment I found out I was pregnant with Tajh. It was almost gross to me to think about putting a bottle in his mouth, yet I didn’t understand why. My mom hadn’t nursed me and I was aware of that, so why did I feel so strongly that I was supposed to? Slowly memories came back of my mom stopping every so often and my little sister hiding under her shirt. I was 6 at the time and then it didn’t mean much to me, not even enough for me to have it as strong memory, but evidently without knowing it my Mom had created a lasting impression.
I knew I would nurse Tajh, but there was also something odd about it to me. It felt weird being a 19-year-old kid and feeding another human being from my boob. Yes, I will admit, it felt weird. The idea of doing it was right, I knew that, but it didn’t make it any less awkward. Having a lactation consultant at the hospital help him latch on, and having people watch me nurse and possibly catch a glimpse of my boob, everything about it made me terribly uncomfortable. I would plan trips around nursing him so I rarely had to nurse in public, and I would always cover up with a blanket. Tajh had bottles of my milk on rare occasion when he was tiny, and began getting formula as well at around 6 months. I started him on baby food at that time too, and then at 11 months I felt he was “too old” for the boob. During a nursing strike I let him quit. My baby was done with the boob, and although I was sad, I was slightly relieved.
Tea was born in New Zealand and there was once again never a question from me if I would nurse her, but there also wasn’t a question from my midwives, it’s what you do. Tea nursed like a champ and having an almost 2-year-old as well, covering up became even more difficult. I have a great technique of wearing a spaghetti strap tank top under any shirt I was wearing, it was a simple pull one up and the other covers your belly. This worked great, but something you have to chase the other one around, so exposure became a little more normal. Tea was an avid nurser and continued to nurse well over a year. At this point I started running and found out I was pregnant again. Tea nursed through me training for a half marathon into my 5 month of pregnancy. At some point my body was exhausted and I’m not sure if I was even producing anymore. At 20 months old she just stopped asking and she was done. To be honest, I think my body was very thankful for at least a little break.
Tay was another nursing champ. He was born at home and nursed basically right after birth. He was an “all the time” nurser which I attribute to him not using a pacifier (plug as we like to call them) like the other two had. He was on the boob all day every day and it was exhausting. As he grew into a toddler I did love his nursing moments, they were the only time he sat still! At 22 months I remember one particular day that I was just done being touched. I had watched the kids all day alone and was now attempting to get my own schoolwork done. I was tired, grumpy, and just done with everything. Seth brought Tay in to me because he was cranky and needed the boob. I remember letting him nurse for a few minutes and just feeling angry. This time things weren’t special I just wanted him done. I told him enough and sent him out, and he never asked again. I feel terrible about how my nursing relationship with Tay ended. It was a moment of frustration that ended my special bond with my little boy.
My time nursing my children was beautiful. I think through my years of nursing I learned a lot. I nursed longer each time, stopped supplementing with bottles and plugs, and learned that nursing should never be on a schedule. The day I received my first foster baby and held the little girl and gave her a bottle I felt something was lacking. It wasn’t that it “wasn’t my child” it was the closeness that was lacking. I was always sad to give any of my babies the bottle, and I was embarrassed in public. Sometimes I wanted to tell people I would be nursing if I could, that I too hated giving the baby the bottle. I felt like people were judging me, and maybe they were? Or maybe they weren’t and it was me feeling like I wasn’t doing the best I could for the babies in my care. With Tenny and Tru especially I had huge regrets about not nursing them. Nursing soothes an upset children, puts them to sleep, honestly makes life easier. I found parenting and not nursing to be much more difficult and harder to create the bond I wanted with them.
Yes I am very pro nursing. I understand it is a choice everyone has to make for themselves. I began nursing as a choice I made for my children. I continued to nurse them as long as I did for myself as well. I am thankful for all my years spent cuddling my little ones giving them the best I could. I hope that my baby wearing and snuggling with my little 2 gave them at least a little taste of the closeness the other 3 had.