McKenna Sunshine was born on June 20, 2007. At the time that I write this, she is 3 days away from being 7 months old.
I will never forget the first latch. I was still on the hard bed thing in labor and delivery. I don't remember now, if they had stitched me yet or not. My midwives had been allowed to come into L&D (I was transferred, from my home birth as a precaution, due to my midwives feeling that I was bleeding too much) by that point, and as I held her in my arms, one of the midwives helped me guide her little mouth to my left nipple for the very first time. The latch, it was so strong. It was way stronger than I ever imagined. It didn't hurt - it wasn't that kind of feeling. It was just kind of a pressure. I don't know how to describe it.
McKenna nursed like a champ, from day one. I never had any issues getting her to latch on the left side. I struggled with the right side, and was thankful to have the LCs at the hospital for assistance. They stopped by several times after my first request for help, to insure I'd gotten nursing down on both sides.
She nursed a LOT those first couple of days. By about a day and a half postpartum, both my nipples were sore. Every time she latched, it felt like razors for about the first minute. I would literally gasp and hold my breath until the pain subsided. Then it was fine until the next time. I thought it was just from nursing being a new thing, and my breasts being tender.
Once I was home, the pain continued, and I asked some friends and some people online for advice. They all recommended that I check her latch to make sure she was latching properly. I glanced over some books that I had, and tried to balance looking at her little lips, holding her, and holding open a book to compare. That was a little tough, given that I was a new mom and had very little concept of how to hold a tiny newborn :) I noticed that her upper lip wasn't flared out like in the pictures, and I began to fix that with every feeding. I literally had to take my finger and unroll her top lip. That helped some, but the pain didn't entirely go away.
Finally, one night in that first week or two, I was up late with her on the couch, and the pain from the latch was so painful that I cried. I was frustrated. I wanted so much to nurse her, and to settle her. She was fussing and rooting and looking at me like, "Hello, what's the hold up lady?" I jumped on my laptop and did yet another search for proper latch, and I finally found a really good website. I realized her bottom lip was way too far up on my areola, and not down and below it like it should be. It was merely a matter of how I was holding her. I took a bunch of pillows, a "My Brest Friend" pillow and some blankets, and set up this great nest of nursing goodness. The pain slowly, but surely, went away.
In retrospect, I think part of the pain *was* just newness. And part of it was latch, and part of it was positioning. I can see how women with no support might give up during that first week. I am so thankful that I had more support than I ever imagined.
Nursing, for us, has been pretty smooth since that point. I have had two days where I spiked a big fever and had sharp pain in my breasts. I believe this may have been plugged ducts both times, and I was fortunate enough to have great advice and some foreknowledge about those. I took warm baths, did massages and nursed a LOT on the painful breast, and neither time turned into anything worse.
As far as nursing in public, I worried about this briefly. Some of my first nursing in public stories include a trip to a restaurant with my in-laws (who formula fed my husband), and (my very first NIP experience) sitting in a restaurant that was supposed to be 18 and up (due to ridiculous laws in Atlanta) with my newborn who obviously wasn't supposed to be there with us. I have only had one situation where someone even gave me a weird glance while nursing. That was when McKenna was a couple months old, and my husband and I were sitting in a restaurant, hanging out. A lady at the bar actually got up and left because she was so upset by my nursing McKenna. Which is amazing to me, since you definitely couldn't tell if you didn't literally stare right at us.
I feel pretty fortunate with my nursing experiences thus far. I am currently facing a couple dilemmas, including McKenna's two new teeth and her newly developed biting habit (for those of you reading this who will be nursing soon, please understand that this is not nearly as scary as it sounds. It's actually pretty easy to deal with.), parents and others expecting me to wean soon, the beginning of "solids," and working/nursing/pumping/supply questions and issues.
My biggest concern is weaning. I don't even like to think about there being a time when I will no longer have a little nursling. :)