Noah Christopher was born at 6:31 pm on December 3rd after a long hard labor. I put him to the breast right away. He was a little disinterested whether from the epidural or from the pure shock of entering the world. He did attempt to latch a couple of times but I couldn't tell if he was actually latched on. I was still high on the "this is MY baby and he just came OUT of me" emotions.
We tried to nurse through out that night but mostly, we slept, tucked in together safely by the most wonderful night nurse on maternity. The next day proved difficult and we made good use of the hospital lactation consultant. He wasn't latching well (now I know due to a flat nipple on one side and probably the fact that well, I was very large chested postpartum and he has a small jaw). I was given a nipple shield and on we went.
I stressed about using the nipple shield but it saved us. I didn't have any side effects from it like lack of supply from less stimulation, or nipple confusion,etc. We went on to use it for 3 months when he self-weaned himself from it in a couple of days..he just was suddenly able to latch normally! Woohoo...!
He nursed every two-three hours for the majority of the first year. I also nursed him to sleep until he was at least 16 months old for most of his naps and bedtime. Some of my fondest memories are of the late night/early morning feedings when he was still tiny... it was just me and him snuggling in bed and the bonding that happened was incredible. His little dark blue eyes looking up at me until they closed in blissful milk-drunk sleep.
There were tears of exhaustion some nights when he was teething and wouldn't stop nursing but I was thankful that I had a way to soothe him. We struggled with nursing in public due to his distractedness and often had to find a quiet place to successfully nurse. Sometimes I would feel desperate looking around for a place to nurse, in say, the grocery store, where truly, none exist. The car would end up being the go-to place even though uncomfortable. We battled thrush from time to time When I returned to work for a short while, pumping was a savior for my supply and a good way to stay connected to Noah throughout the day. Turns out, he much preferred mommy and had a hard time sleeping/eating while I was gone. Happily, I stayed home.
We found ways to work around the stresses that go with nursing a baby. When I was exhausted nursing him to sleep, daddy would take over and rock. If he was too distracted to eat in public, I popped him in a sling or ergo carrier and nursed him there, sometimes with a cover to get him to sleep. I continued pumping after I came home from working so I could go out once in a while.
I worked nights for a short time and daddy had to take over soothing Noah at night. Since we cosleep he was still night nursing and got the majority of his milk that way. He slowly transitioned to a bottle a night of soy or almond milk and started sleeping better. He still nursed about 3 or 4 times a day.
I became pregnant and almost instantly he noticed a difference in the taste of my milk. He started nursing less and less. My milk supply was gone by 13 weeks. He's no longer nursing during the day and asks maybe once a night to nurse before deciding it's not worth the effort. We rock and snuggle to sleep with his lamb and blankie. At first, I cried a lot mourning the loss of our nursing relationship. Especially when he told me that I had "ew milk". haha. Now, I'm enjoying the evolution of our bonding experience and love rocking and holding him to sleep. It's hard to accept that he is growing up and becoming a little boy instead of a baby. I think it will make the transition to having another baby easier to have only one nursling.
Although, difficult at times, I had such a blissful experience nursing him and am so thankful that I was able to. We've bonded incredibly and I only wish that I could provide him with milk longer than I am able to. At 20 months, he is almost completely self-weaned. I didn't imagine it would be this easy. I think that because I trusted my instinct nursing him on demand as well as in general during his weaning process, he was able to self-wean easily. It's a bittersweet time for both of us and as he talks about the new baby in mommy's tummy, I have a feeling that it will be this way for a while. It's hard to believe he is growing up...and as every mother says, he'll always be my baby.