on breastfeeding.

I wanted to be point blank with the title of this blog post. Because, well, you may not want to read about my breastfeeding journey. But I need to write about it. For me. For my children.

My mom nursed all six of her children. But I never once talked to her about it before she passed away almost seven years ago. I mourn that loss, hearing how her journey was with each of her children, how long she nursed for and why.

So I'm writing here to share my journey so my children will know my thoughts on breastfeeding. I just finished nursing Lincoln to sleep for the night. I'm realizing he is almost 10 months, which for me, means our breastfeeding relationship will be ending in the next few months or so. It's hard to believe, being that pregnancy and/or nursing has been my life for the last almost 5.5 years. I nursed Audrey for 14 months, then got pregnant with Naomi. I nursed Naomi for 12 months and was pregnant with Lincoln when she was 9 months old. I plan to nurse Lincoln to 12-13 months. [Every mother chooses their breastfeeding relationship length differently, for different reasons. Absolutely no judging on this.]

[Please know, I'm not writing to say that breastfeeding is the only right way. I truly believe every mother must do what is best for her and her family. Every story is different. This is my story.]

Nursing last summer, when Lincoln was just a few months old

Yesterday I had the honor of going to Indiana University to speak to a Health and Nutrition class on breastfeeding. I went unprepared and was told they would just ask questions and just to respond how I saw fit, no right or wrong answer. I was excited to be an advocate for breastfeeding and to bring it to a college campus. I think what surprised me the most, is that many of the questions I actually didn't have a defined answer for. It made me realize how natural it was---I respond to my babies need without even thinking about it. God designed a mother's instinct to be pretty remarkable. I read the books, took the breastfeeding class at the hospital, but nothing can replace or fill in for a mother's natural instinct. For me, when my breastfeeding journey began with Audrey almost 4.5 years ago when she was born, it was about letting go of fear {fear that I wouldn't be able to do it, fear of pain, fear of not knowing} and embracing it with a can-do attitude.

When I was pregnant with Audrey, breastfeeding was a choice I knew I wanted to make for multiple reasons. One, because we were (are) on a tight budget, and frankly, free milk is pretty awesome. It's always available and ready. Baby tired? Just nurse him. Baby hungry? Nurse him. Baby sad? Nurse him. I pretty much have always used nursing as a cure all. And it works. Of course, the health benefits for the baby and mama were enough for me to want to do it. Nursing always helped me shed the pregnancy pounds (and I gained quite a bit with each baby). I love that nursing always brings my baby back to me. He/she can be passed around and around, but every few hours, I know he's mine. All mine.   Some of my very favorite moments is when I am nursing and he looks up at me. Eye to eye. Heart to heart. It's pretty amazing and an unbreakable bond.

This beautiful journey has been a learning process. It's natural. But still something that has to be learned by both mama and baby. With Audrey, I distinctly remember this one moment when she was just three days old. We went directly from our local hospital to Riley Hospital because of Audrey's heart issue when she was born. Andrew dropped me off with Audrey so he could park the car. I found myself on the uncomfortable hospital chairs, boppy pillow around me and holding on to a crying baby that really wanted to nurse. I put an entire blanket over my head and hid under it while I was sweating and nursed her. I was a first time, nervous mama, just trying to figure this breastfeeding thing out. With Audrey I used Lansinoh cream like my life depended on it. Before and after each and every feeding for at least the first few weeks. But, I didn't experience excruciating pain, and for the most part it came fairly easily for both of us. [I know this isn't always the case, I'm thankful that it happened as it did.] With both Naomi and Lincoln it was even a smoother transition. In fact, with Lincoln I used the cream maybe the first day or two, but didn't need it after that. I don't think twice about nursing in public and (gasp) I don't use a cover up. 

For me, nursing makes me slow down---a much needed break for both of us in the hustle and bustle of every day life. I breathe in their baby smell, and relish in the fact that I'm nurturing and nourishing my baby. This breastfeeding journey will be ending soon, but the memories will be forever with me.  

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