One of my most worrisome issues when I was an expectant Mother was the breastfeeding.  I was pregnant with my first, researching and picking the brains of other mothers until they wanted to run, covering their breasts, far, far away from me.  I scoured the internet, often finding new um…  adult?…  sites as I went, reading words of wisdom, advice on easing into it and fact after fact after fact on how to do it, when to do it and what products I could buy to help me do it.  It was a nerve – racking time.

I actually had pre- birth guilt that I may not be able to nurse my child after reading, asking and over- thinking all of the information I gathered.  If only I had done this much work on actually raising them!  
My first was born in 2006.  After an emergency c – section, not only was my dream of a vaginal birth shot to hell, but my visions of the Doctor laying a gooey, wiggly, screaming baby on my naked chest to start the bonding process and nursing experience were out the window too.  Even my desire to have no one else hold the baby until I could get her and cram a boob in her mouth went out with the placenta.  
By the time I was wheeled into recovery, I believe everyone from my Mother to the lady handing out hand sanitizer 4 floors below had held my precious daughter.  
So when it came time to breastfeed, I was sore, mad, frustrated and had already set myself up for disaster.  But I tried.  And tried.  And tried some more.  Katie would not latch.  I tried all of the tricks I had read about.  The football hold, laying on my side with her pressed against me, letting her lay on me hour after hour after hour screaming thinking she would just eventually take it.  It is nature, after all.  She should know instinctively, as should I, what to do, right?  
Yea um…..  no.
A lactation consultant came wandering in on day 2.  I was exhausted, frustrated, worried and at my wit’s wnd thinking I was starving my poor daughter by not feeding her.  As an added bonus, this  – lady – came in, pulled my hospital gown down, no introduction, and started playing with my breasts.  I could see out of the corner of my eye my husband, conflicted in his jealousy or the desire to slap this lady, obviously manhandleling his wife’s breasts!  
She talked quickly while pinching an pulling at my nipple, still no introduction to make me feel that she was legally allowed to even be in my room, much less fondling my breasts without permission.  I heard something about inverted nipples, nipple guards, ice cubes, and other terms I had come across but didn’t learn about since this was all going to go so smoothly for me.  
By the time the tit police finished, I was depressed, sore and irritated.  All things a new mother should be feeling on the first day of her child’s life, by the way.  I was also wearing some plastic thing on my breast, ignoring the information the lady was throwing at me now that she had finally told me who the heck she was, and swearing to ban her from my room for the rest of my stay.  
In my new Mom, overly educated but still dumb as dirt, inexperience fog, I ended up attempting to feed Katie with a syringe, attached to a small tube, looped through a paci, into her mouth…  feeling like a total, freaking, idiot.  THIS was not in my studies!!!  
During my stay, and while trying to figure out a breast pump I had never thought to take out of the package and actually study, I did everything I could to get my child to latch on.  I never succeeded and went home sad that my first birth experience, from the c – section to the breastfeeding, was a total failure in my eyes.  I was thrilled to have my new daughter, but backtracking every second trying to figure out how it went so terribly wrong.  
Determined as I am, I tried for weeks to get my daughter to latch.  I’d pump, get the milk flowing and grab the baby and smash her face into my boob.  Nothing worked.   
On her 7 week birthday, I curled up with her in my bed as I had been doing and drifted off in a restless sleep. I had pumped her overnight bottles and in my exhaustion, forgotten to hook my nursing bra back or button my  nursing shirt.  At 3 am, I felt a weird sensation.  Something was sucking on my breast?!  The now familiar, oddly good and painful tingling that signaled my milk coming down, accompanies this odd sensation.  I opened my eyes and saw my baby, sweet and happy, eating away like she had done it every day of her life.  With no nipple guard, no breast massage prior to, and no positioning technique to hamper her.  
From that day on, she nursed.  When I went back to work, I pumped but always nursed her at night and in the mornings.  I nursed that baby until 9 months when my Doctor told me to stop because the nursing was triggering contractions with my, now 4 month, pregnancy.  
Weaning her was easy.  She was used to bottles from the sitter’s and as long as I rocked her for hours and hours, I was happy to oblige, she was fine with taking a bottle at night.  
My second daughter was born and I was calm.  She came via c – section also and everyone held her too.  I got her, didn’t care who was in the room, took my shirt down and watched as she happily latched, and didn’t let go until I surgically removed her at 14 months!  
When my third daughter was born, she was a lazy nurser.  She would latch but fall asleep.  Instead of panicking, calling a nurse in and freaking out because she didn’t eat the first 24 hours of her life, I soaked in the sleeping baby and knew that she would eat when she was hungry.  She eventually got more energy and nursed like a champion.  
I weaned her last week, at almost 14 months.  I though I would be sad.  Downtrodden that my baby had weaned and there were no more babies to snuggle, attach and watch late at night, in a peaceful nursery, enjoy the milk that I was blessed to be able to provide for my children.  A luxury I knew that not every mother had. A small time in my motherhood that would be lost forever, except for fading memories.
But, I am surprised at my ease in accepting it.  I am actually elated to have my breasts back to myself!  It seems selfish, I know.  But after almost 4 years of  straight nursing, I am happy that I am done.  Finished with the leaking on my clean shirts, the tugging and screeching of my children in public, trying to pull my shirt down to eat, having to stop everything I am doing and feed you, no matter what, reality of nursing.
I would not trade that special bonding time for anything in the world, don’t get my wrong!  But after a breast a day after day after day, I am happy to say, that my ta- tas are mine again.
And I will take them, saggy, stretch marks visible in the right light, nipples large and misshapen, having performed admirably for my kids,  to have and to support from this day forward!