I love breastfeeding. I'll be honest, most of the time it gives me a feeling of accomplishment, natural connection, even a little bit of superiority (nothing against mom's who can't, I am blessed to be able to provide the best for my babies) and a truckload of gratefulness that I have a way to calm almost any situation. My experience breastfeeding has been mostly easy, just a few bumps on the way. I nursed as soon as possible after my c-section for L1 (though not before they made my husband give him a bottle of formula, and tried to tell us to give him the bottle first every time, and then the breast. So glad I knew better!) and my HBAC (home birth after cesarean) made for easy breastfeeding initiation with L2. I worked the first 5 months after L1 was born, and pumped while being gone 10 hours a day. Not once did we need to supplement with formula.
L1 was still nursing when I got pregnant with L2, and showed no signs of slowing. He nursed frequently through the pregnancy and I was glad for a way to slow him down so I could rest. After L2 was born, L1 nursed even more, waking more times at night than the newborn. We kept this up for about 3 months before deciding something needed to change. We cut down to once during the night and nap time. When even that was too much for me, we encouraged him to cut those out. The transition was fairly smooth, though I felt horrible that I couldn't handle nursing both until they were ready to stop on their own.
Fast forward 7 months. L1 hadn't nursed since December (it was now July) and L2 was still nursing just as much as ever during the day but had cut down at night since starting baby led solids at 9 months. But, we were in the mode of going broke, moving, and planning a vacation that was gifted to us to see family in southern California. We were stressed, and the boys were starting to show it. So one night, in the midst of a screaming tantrum that had reached over an hour with no relief from any of our usual methods I leaned in close and just whispered "Would you like to nurse?" L1 suddenly took a deep breath: "Nurnies? (hic) Ok." and came to rock with me and tried to nurse. He didn't remember how, but it allowed him to calm down and reconnect with me. When we finish, he gave me a big hug, patted my cheek and whispered "I love you mommy. And nurnies." I had a new ace in my pocket.
At the end of July we stayed with my mom while we moved. While it made things easier to not have L1 and L2 underfoot, it meant that Daddy was at work all day, then moving a load or two in the evening. That left very little daddy time, and no time for my husband and me. That was hard on all of us. I started nursing L1 even more to quell the emotional breakdowns. And more. When the moving was done, the boys and I flew to California. Without Daddy. Then it started. L2 wants to nurse All. The. Time. I can't handle it. We are surrounded by helpful, caring family, but still he screams for nurnies. Especially at night, when it is even harder to nurse because his relearned latch is lost in his exhaustion and IT HURTS. We are only 2 nights into the 5 without daddy, and I am almost ready to hitchhike home. Instead, I am going to dig deep, lean heavily on the expansive family ready and willing to help (for now!) and take everyone to the Natural History Museum and hope the dinosaurs will entertain L1 enough to keep his mind off missing daddy.