I suppose I should write a post about my experience with breastfeeding, since it's how I spend the majority of my time. In fact, it's what I'm doing right now.
I think I should start off by saying that I am so lucky. This has come easily for me. Tycho is 100% exclusively breastfed, with a bottle of expressed breast milk here and there, but mostly straight from the source. I say this, though, without arrogance, as I've seen my friends struggle with supply and latch and pain and babies that just aren't growing, and I am grateful I haven't been faced with those challenges. For us, this has been very easy, or at least as easy as being a 24-hour-a-day on-demand food source for a (not so) tiny cranky person can be.
Tycho is a grazer. (Like mother, like son.) He eats for short spurts, all the time. It's rare for him to go more than an hour without a snack. I can't say I blame him, as I prefer to eat in much the same way, but between keeping him sated and his diapers dry, I rarely have a stretch of time long enough to do the dishes, much less any more time-consuming chores. Especially since I prioritize showering and my own meals over vacuuming. So things are crazy right now, and I'm not thrilled about that, but this is such a short time in our lives... Sometimes I do feel resentful that he wants to eat AGAIN, and why can't my husband start lactating and share this burden? But I try to take a deep breath and settle back and enjoy the quiet moment with my son. It's not always easy, and I'm not always successful, but when I can stop myself from trying to reach out beyond our little bubble nursing can be an amazing, beautiful perfection.
We have nursed pretty much everywhere. When babies are hungry, they are hungry, and I try to get out of the house at least three times a week, so Tycho comes with me, and he eats wherever we are. I've nursed him at restaurants, at parks, at the zoo, at family reunions, at the doctor, in the hospital. Airports, airplanes, grocery stores, shopping malls, a birthday party, yoga class, in bed, half asleep. In front of my sister, my parents, my in-laws, my boss, summer daycampers, little old ladies, teenage boys, both mine and my husbands entire extended families. I don't own a nursing cover. I've used a muslin blanket a couple of times when we're outside in direct sunlight, and not for any sense of modesty. (After giving birth, I have none.) And I haven't heard one word about my public display of my breasts, except my father-in-law commenting after the fact on how none of his family members seemed to care. I worried, as I'm not exactly the most discreet, nor do I have any intention of trying to be, but so far I've felt nothing short of complete acceptance and encouragement.
Body issues are common, I'm sure post-partum. In general, I feel pretty good about where I'm at. I can fit into some of my jeans again, however they do look a little different. But my chest challenges me. Back during my pregnancy I had very little breast development, and I was concerned that it would lead to challenges with milk supply later. But oh how wrong I was. Finally I went for a bra-fitting at a local hippie/breastfeeding/cloth diapering/baby wearing store, and wow. I went from a 32A pre-pregnancy, to a 34E. E wasn't even in my boob alphabet. I'm still kind of shocked, to be perfectly honest. So while I can shimmy into pre-baby bottoms, anything on top is just hopeless, as you can probably imagine. And even with cobbling together a new, bigger wardrobe, I find that the style I have cultivated for years simply doesn't flatter my new voluptuous body. Add to that the need to find clothes that allow for easy boob access, and I'm really struggling with my style right now. Considering my career in fashion retail, I find this particularly difficult. Even when I return to work, I still need to have access for pumping. But what I wouldn't give to be able to wear a boat neck dress!
Speaking of returning to work, I go back full time in a month. (I have more than enough thoughts on this for another whole blog post, so let's keep it to breastfeeding.) I'm committed to keeping Tycho on breast milk, for at least his whole first year, and I know that it might be difficult for both of us. We started trying to introduce a bottle when he was around six weeks, and it's taken until quite recently for him to accept it without a fight. We make sure he has at least one bottle everyday, so that he maintains his bottle-feeding skills, but this is very frustrating for me, more of the milk I am pumping goes to these bottles instead of into my frozen stash. I had quite a bit stored, but before we left town I gave it all to a friend in need, so I've had to start all over again. I'm hoping to have at least 100oz frozen before I go back, and I think I'll get there without too much trouble. I am, though, concerned with being able to keep up with Tycho's demands pumping at work. I do pretty well with the pump, but at home I usually pump from one breast while the baby nurses from the other, and I get a much better letdown than I would by pumping solo. But I'm trying not to worry about it until I actually have a reason to, if at all.
So all in all, breastfeeding is going pretty spectacularly for us, and mostly I like doing it. It's so cool to look at Tycho and be able to say, "I made that."