Yes, yes, prepare to be scandalized: but only at a PG-rating level. Shirts are not coming off, no skin will be exposed, but this is a celebration - a necessary celebration - of nourishment, sacrifice, late nights, early mornings, awkward situations, and good ol' bonding time.
Sorry to disappoint, but this ultimately comes down to nursing. Was your baby bottle fed? Don't leave the party! This is a celebration, remember, and everyone can join in.
I dedicate these ramblings to all the women out there that ever attempted to nurse or had just the thought of breast feeding. You are amazing, do you know that? This is for you, who had headaches from dealing with various contraptions - shields, pumps, pads, boppys, pillows... - to help (or possibly hinder?) you with nursing; who found odd corners of the world to whip it out so your child would not go hungry; who lost countless hours of sleep to lurch out of bed at the wee hours of the night; who cracked, and bled, and cried when nursing got difficult; who got odd looks (or harsh words) from strangers or family who just didn't understand; who sacrificed lunch hours or bathroom breaks or moments to just breathe in order to pump; who had a baby who couldn't take bottles; who had infections or inflammation; who had a baby who took bottles too well; who dealt with milk supply issues (too little or too much); who made it any amount of time nursing. You have earned yourself a standing ovation, dear, sweet momma.
I've shared nursing tales in the past - nursing ninjas, crying over spilt milk, etc. - but I am no longer a part of the nursing crowd. I made it a full year, and it was a splendid but difficult year. To see how I could contribute to my son's growth so directly, was incredible. For the first six months of his life, his only nourishment came from me, not to mention the months in utero prior to his birth. Isn't that amazing? It reminds me how beautifully we are made that we can provide so much to our children (just as God has provided for us), especially in their first moments of life. And yes, I had to bring it to a point about faith, because the miracle of creation still baffles and mystifies me. Being a mother has only heightened my awe.
As for my own nursing journey, it is just like motherhood: wonderful, difficult, amazing, and stressful. It took a great toll on my body, at times to the point of malnourishment, and I've dallied through various cup-sizes, but I have arrived a year later with a healthy boy, and a body changed but recuperated. And as it's easy to use Bloggieland to give you the impression that I have never struggled, I tell you these confessions:
I have nursed in restaurants (Qdoba and Panera just to name a couple), bathroom stalls, a car dealership board room, park benches, backseats of cars, airplanes, airports, mall sofas, church lounges, an emergency room, parks, a wood shop, libraries, dressing rooms, ... and those are just the instances I can remember at the moment.
At ten months, we started supplementing goats milk with pumped milk because my supply was starting to fade. At two weeks prior to Quincy's birthday, we swapped the goat's milk for formula to ensure he was getting the necessary vitamins, and the last time I nursed was his birthday. He now drinks Vitamin D milk (though not as much as we'd like), and has a nighttime formula bottle because we haven't figured out another way to put him down for the night.
For those of you still nursing, know that your efforts do not go unnoticed or unappreciated.
Of course I must mention to those who use formula: a big kuddos to you, too. I'm awkward with formula. You have to get the temperature right, mix the right proportions, and if you're doing it in the middle of the night with a wailing baby? Ugh. It takes time, your wallet takes a hit, and then if they have a reaction to the formula and you have to seek out other alternative(s)...? You are doing great by providing nourishment for your child. You are part of this celebration, too.
And finally, I don't want to terrify any future parents out there and make you think that nursing is horrible and difficult, etc. etc. It has been an incredible journey, with some difficulties, but the positives out-weighed the hardships. So let's turn it back to the celebration!
Blow out a candle, raise a glass, stuff a piece of cake in your mouth, for there is much to celebrate!