In a few months, my toddler-beast will turn two and with that, I will have officially made it to my breastfeeding goal of at least two years as recommended by the World Health Organization. While we are in no rush to wean, there is something really, really satisfying about hitting that marker. Looking back over our breastfeeding journey, there are many milestones I wish I had marked instead of counting the days and months.
The First Time We Nursed at Home
Of course, our first latch was instrumental and incredible, but the first time we latched at home without medical professionals only a button away? That was a huge step towards my long-term goals and in building my confidence as a mother and provider.
The First Time We Nursed in Public
As any number of viral Facebook posts can tell you, nursing in public can be terrifying and on rare occasion, result in confrontation. But oddly enough, the first time we nursed in public at a pancake house, literally no one noticed. Not a single pitchfork was yielded and it was a complete non-event. Another big check mark and a confidence booster!
The First Time We Nursed without a Nipple Shield
From the outset, my newborn and I were a bit mismatched. She was this tiny squalling thing and I had boobs for DAYS. Cue our translation tool and breastfeeding relationship rescuer: the nipple shield. This handy device helped us through the fourth trimester and then one day, we just didn’t need it anymore. This integral part of our relationship was over and we never looked back.
The First Time Someone Asked ME for Advice
This is a biggie. After more than a year of successful breastfeeding, a dear friend had her daughter and was struggling. She told me what was going on, what she had done so far, what worked, what hadn’t … and we problem-solved. I was able to talk her through what worked for me, and luckily, it worked for her, too. I couldn’t have been more proud in that moment to be able to translate everything I had learned in my months of nursing, whether it was from direct experience or through the kind and patient guidance of the leaders in our local chapter of La Leche League and countless articles from KellyMom.
The First Time I Donated Milk
Of all the meaningful experiences I’ve had with breastfeeding, donating milk will always be at the top of my list and it’s the one I want to leave you with today. I am one of the lucky ones who had no problem responding to a pump and worked in an environment that allowed me to pump as often as I needed. And with that access and supply, I built up an enviable freezer stash. But what good was it going to do, being essentially hoarded? So when the freezer was full to the brim, I connected with moms in need on Human Milk 4 Human Babies. In all, I was about to donate about 300 ounces between four moms who needed a little extra to get by. It’s a common refrain in breastfeeding support groups that love isn’t measured in ounces, but I am so grateful that I sent a little love out into the world.