I'll start this post quite simply...
I don't really talk much about this fact, I don't really know why, probably because such strong opinions are attached to the subject of breastfeeding and I don't really care to get into some great debate. Some people I know make a big deal about the fact that Caroline isn't weaned yet, which is really annoying and pretty offensive and nosy in my book, but opinions are like elbows.
So far, the whole weaning process is going relatively smooth. We're down to three short nursing sessions a day; one first thing after Caroline wakes up, one to get her down for her nap and one before bed. Each being about ten minutes. I have to say, when I decided to nurse Caroline, my goal was to do so exclusively for the first 6-8 months, then have her completely weaned by 9 months. When 9 months rolled around, I thought "well, what's three more months? I can make it to one year." Now here we are just a couple months shy of Caroline's 2nd birthday and I still do not have my child weaned from breastfeeding. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, but I'm honestly just so ready. She's not. And if I have to hear one person in my family make a remark again about the fact that she still nurses...
My boobies. My baby. My business.
Anyway, I've thought a lot over the last few months specifically that if we end up having a second child sometime in the future, there are a few things I'll do differently where nursing is concerned. Mind you, this is just my opinion and it's based off my breastfeeding experience, not any sort of scientific research. Everyone is different and all mama's just try to do their best, even though most days, I'm sure the majority of us feel like we're failing or falling short. At least I do. So here's five things I'll do different if we ever have another child, which is still up for debate (Caroline is a handful and I'm not sure I'm woman enough to take on more than just her! At least not anytime soon haha).
1. Bottles. I was dead set against using bottles for the first few months because I was convinced that she would stop nursing if I did. This made it really hard for me to go to work and leave her with anyone. I think I waited too long to offer her pumped milk from a bottle and when I finally did, she didn't want anything to do with it at all. She never really took a bottle more than a handful of times. It worked out okay since she just went straight to a sippy cup, but it would have eased my anxiety and made it a bit easier for me to leave her with people if I would have offered them sooner I think.
2. 12 month cutoff. I have to say, breastfeeding is a very selfless endeavor. I'll be the first to admit that I have and always have had selfish tendencies, so to completely surrender my body to my baby was tough for me. She spent nine months on the inside stretching and rearranging things, then to still be breastfeeding almost two years later. It's like sometimes, I just want my body back if that makes sense. So, that being said, I think I would have started initiating the weaning process earlier and have been completely finished at one year old. I wasn't completely ready to let go of it at that point. It was coming up on cold and flu season and I felt like continuing to nurse was something I could do to help strengthen Caroline's immune system and keep her from getting sick longer.
3. Vigorous Exercise. I waited way too long to get back into working out hard. I was really afraid that if I did, my supply would drop with a drop in body fat percentage, so I just stuck to walking and occasional weight lifting and Pure Barre sessions until this past winter. Also, bouncing around and running with boobies full of milk is not the most comfortable thing in the world. Most of what I've read since has given the okay to vigorous exercising sooner rather than later, and I'm wishing now that I wouldn't have waited so long.
4. Pacifiers. I feel pretty much the same way about pacifiers that I do about bottles. I was terrified to give them to Caroline in the fear that it would mess with her latch, so she was just using me as a pacifier a lot of times, which of course, everyone told me she was doing, but at the time, I honestly didn't care. I basically lived in fear of anything affecting her latch or my supply for the first six months of her like. To me, breastmilk was her multi-vitamin and her defense against all the snotty, germy kids and playgrounds of the world and I was determined to protect her. I may have a touch of germaphobia. I gave it to her the very first night we brought her home because she just wouldn't stop screaming, and then she wouldn't nurse for the next ten hours. Evil pacifier. After that, I decided she wasn't getting it again. The plus side of her never really taking a pacifier though, again, I never had to break her from it.
5. Relax and Enjoy the Ride. In case the point wasn't made already, I was afraid of so much when it came to breastfeeding, mainly that my supply would drop or that something would interfere with the process that I was just so rigid and uptight about so many things. If we ever go down this baby/ breastfeeding road again, I'm really going to try and just relax and enjoy the ride. Aside from the first week or two, which just completely sucked (no pun intended) and hurt like heck.
I have to say though, I wouldn't change the experience I've had nursing Caroline, because I feel like I have learned a lot and kind of feel like a rock star that not only did I create and bring a little lady into the world, but that my body was able to sustain her and give her everything she needed for almost two years now. It's a pretty empowering feeling. And I know that breastfeeding isn't for everyone, but as a general rule, it's usually best to keep your opinions about it to yourself, especially to a nursing mama.