A few weeks before Lilah was due, the Hubs and I took a breastfeeding day course at the hospital. The nurse who was teaching the course asked everyone to brainstorm the many reasons why breast is best. There were all the usual suspects - antibodies in the milk, mother-baby bonding, environmentally friendly, no preparation necessary, etc. Oh, and you can be sure that the Hubs and I were the ones chiming in with "and it's FREE!" We're notorious for our, ahem, "frugality."
Yes, there are endless reasons to breastfeed. For me and Lilah, it didn't exactly come easily at first, as I wrote about here, but now we are a breastfeeding power team. She is almost 13 months old and still going strong on the boob, nursing three to five times a day. I've been asked many times when I intend to wean her, and I really thought I'd want to around the time that she turned one. But it has become such a natural, beautiful interaction, and I really can't imagine taking it away from either of us at the moment.
Lilah has entered the realm of toddlerhood, and so our days are full of adventure and chaos. Breastfeeding is our time-out; our little oasis of stillness that grounds and reconnects us a few times throughout each hectic day. I used to resent the fact that I needed to leave a social event and find a private room to nurse my distractible, constantly moving baby, but now I relish the excuse for some quiet time for the two of us. Of course it doesn't hurt that nursing her only takes five or ten minutes where it used to take the better part of an hour.
Lilah and I have our own little inside jokes while we are nursing, and I love watching her trying to smile while still latched on when I tickle her or we play the "stinky feet" game. That milky smile that inevitably emerges is just about the most precious thing I can possibly think of.
I am pro-breastfeeding in general for all the usual reasons, but the reasons why I love it for myself and for Lilah are not really what I expected them to be. Or maybe it's just that the term "bonding" doesn't do it justice. I have struggled to define and explain it, but then I came across this breastfeeding photo blog, and suddenly it dawned on me. Breastfeeding makes me feel like I am part of something so much bigger than just me and Lilah; something ancient and mammalian, and yet, when I am nursing her, we are in our own little world; the only two souls who exist.