There are two hard rules that I made for myself shortly after I became pregnant the first time.
1) Breastfeeding is the most important part of raising my kids.
2) Quitting is not an option.
I made these rules right at the beginning when I found just how fragile nursing relationships are in this country. From the moment I became pregnant, the pressure for artificial feeding was on. The hospital asked me if I planned to breastfeed and then sent me home with a "new baby bag" full of formula promotions, breast pump accessory coupons and horse pill looking "breastfeeding vitamin" advertisements. Who would want to breastfeed if they have to take a million walnut sized pills just to meet the nutritional demand of a baby? The message is subtle but clear as a bell. "Here are your formula coupons when you change your mind."
I was surprised at how hidden breastfeeding was (and still is). The only things I've seen babies eat have been in bottles or purchased; If not sucking on bottles, then sucking on pacifiers. Even new mothers coming in to the pediatrician's office used bottles. Walking down the grocery baby isle, most of the inventory is designed to substitute for breastfeeding or a mothers touch in some way. Pacifiers, formula, strollers, baby monitors, teething rings, baby food, all of this will erode the natural mothering connection that is born with our babies. It was this realization that prompted me to make these rules and move away from the mainstream.
At first, my breastfeeding focus felt very lonely. Most of my family was uncomfortable with my breastfeeding. Some are even more uncomfortable with it now. Over the years comments like "old enough to ask is too old," "omg TMI," "Chase is STILL breastfeeding??!," have come my way. My mother and mother-in-law only breastfed for a short time (3 months) and while supportive, they weren't the body of knowledge and experience I needed. The internet both guided me and saved me. Every bit of breastfeeding knowledge I found, I devoured. From LLL to The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding to KellyMom.com articles to Baby-led-Weaning and WHO recommendations, the more I learned, the stronger my resolve became.
When things felt impossible, too hard, too demanding, too painful, I let myself cry. All the frustration, worry, anger, guilt, I let it come. And I let it go; because I have my rules to protect me. Breastfeeding is important. And under no circumstances will I ever quit.