In public health school they emphasized the way in which breastfeeding was devalued with the rise of formula in the 60s and 70s (which persists in many countries), and the way in which public health research has succeeded and failed in bringing the message of "breast is best" back to moms. Theoretically, I knew I wanted to breastfeed for one year, so that Noah didn't ever have formula.
Practically speaking, two good friends were instrumental in actually following through on that- they provided me with the confidence to
- know that if I breastfed regularly and didn't supplement with anything, my supply would meet demand
- breastfeed in public (which can be daunting at first).
- know that breastfeeding while pregnant is totally fine (unless you have any conditions that make it not).
So, I pumped and pumped and pumped through the first year, and Noah kept breastfeeding. The first year is by far the most difficult. In the year of upheaval that was 2011, breastfeeding felt like a comfort that helped Noah to grow up in all the other ways that matter. Then I found myself pregnant, and it felt strange (but necessary?) to wean. So I swore I'd wean as soon as we were settled in our house (we're moving Jan 9).
Now it doesn't seem like such a big deal whether Noah weans or not. I'd wanted to leave some space before the baby was born, but now I wonder if we can just see what happens. He may well wean when he's in his own room, which would be great. But breastfeeding is not on my list of things that make parenting a 19 month old hard. It's actually on the list that makes it easier.