I absolutely always knew I would breastfeed. There was never another consideration. But, truth be told, I did have a very Western understanding of breastfeeding. You know, you breastfeed exclusively until 4-6 months when you introduce solids--and by solids I mean that paste-like substance they call baby rice cereal. (gag!) And somewhere around a year you wean your baby intentionally by little-by-little or all at once saying no to nursing. I don't know where I got these ideas, except that I just absorbed them from living in America and from very "helpful" books like "What To Expect...." (which I most whole-heartedly do not recommend).
Then I had Meg. And we had a great nursing relationship. I tried introducing solids at about 6 months, but she wasn't so into them. I tried "weaning" her, but just didn't have the resolve. BUT, I was already pregnant with Israel. I just assumed that I would have to wean her before the new baby arrived. Everyone I talked to assumed the same thing. Time ticked by. Closer and closer to the birth of our second baby. Then a nutritionist at WIC of all places said, "Why do you have to wean her? Nurse them both. At least you won't get engorged after birth because she can take whatever the new baby won't."
Well, that sealed it.
I tandem nursed. One day when Meg was about 1 1/2 years old, I offered to nurse her and she said, "No thanks. I'll have an apple." So, I just had Israel. But, Luc was born right before Meg was 2 1/2 and so I tandem nursed Israel and Luc. Until Israel was done and I just had Lucas. And the story goes on.
When I moved to Mongolia a friend who had recently had a baby was not producing enough milk. So, they asked me to nurse the baby. I was uncomfortable with nursing someone else's baby. It didn't fit in my Western Nursing Paradigm. But I was willing to express. So, every day I expressed a bottle or two for their baby. They came over one night and all the friends were just sitting around the living room when the father of this baby warmed up the breastmilk. Then put the nipple in his mouth and tested it. Another friend said, "Man, you know that's Daja's breastmilk, right?" He said, "Yes, but I wanted to test the temperature." The friend replied, "Why don't you use your wrist like everyone else?" The father said, "I trust my mouth." The friend said, "I hate to see how you test her bath water."
Shortly after that I had some expressed milk in the fridge that they weren't able to pick up. I didn't want it to go bad, so was considering what to do. Gana's mother said, "Can I have it?" Ummmmmmmmm........ Apparently, breastmilk is very good for one's liver. And she should know. She's a research physician. So, she drank my breastmilk. My Western Nursing Paradigm was not in Kansas anymore.
From that point on my mother-in-law frequently drank my breastmilk. And when we go to Mongolia, even now, I express some for her everyday.
One day a friend of mine who had a baby about four months old had to go away overnight for a church conference. She expressed milk ahead of time for her baby. While she was gone she became painfully engorged. So a mutual friend relieved her engorgement. They were on a bus and there was not cup or means of expressing, so she did it the au naturel way. My Western Nursing Paradigm was gone FOREVER.
And so my nursing journey goes on......its tenth year. Saraa only nurses occasionally now. But, soon we'll have a new baby to nurse and the fun will begin all over again! Hurray for boobs.