Tianna, thank you :) I have been inspired by many, many women, so I am so happy to do the same.
(Nursing my two month old at the Grand Canyon...can't even tell, right?)
I do not, regularly, use a breastfeeding cover. I have gotten good enough at it where I can nurse very discreetly. I always have on a tank top underneath my shirt, so I will pull up my shirt and then pull my tank top down underneath my breast. I'll cover my breast with my hand while the baby latches on, then my shirt will cover the rest of it while she nurses (I realize that I am a small-chested woman, so this works for me, but it may not work if you have a large chest...I don't know about that because I don't have a large chest!). When she gets distracted and pulls off, I quickly pull my shirt down. That means I am always very self aware and never show anything. Most people don't even realize I'm nursing. There are times when I do use a cover. Often it is in a social situation where I feel uncomfortable because I know others feel uncomfortable with me nursing, like around lots of guy friends, etc. Sometimes, I do leave and go to another room because being around people is just too distracting. When the baby was small, I would nurse in Sacrament meeting without a problem. More often now, I go to the lounge because it is less distracting for her.
I am not perfect at nursing on demand. She still uses a binky and I like that. But I have tried to be more aware this time and offer her my breast when she cries, rather than offering her a binky. She will nurse anywhere and in any position. She nurses while I chase the toddler around, getting him off tables, etc. She nurses while I clean up toys. She nurses while I hold her brother. She is really adaptable because she loves it so much.
Max was not difficult to wean, but I think it is because I never really, really nursed him for more than just feedings. By the end, he was nursing three times a day. Gradually, we stopped nursing before his nap - I just would lay him down with his binky instead of nursing him. Then, instead of nursing him in the morning, I'd take him right out of his crib and we'd go eat breakfast. At night, I just didn't nurse him one night and that was that. It was really easy to wean him (easy logistically but not easy emotionally), but again, I feel that it is probably because I never really nursed him for much more than nourishment. I do not know how it will be with Maude, since I've approached the whole thing much differently this time around. However, I'm not worried about it. I am quite comfortable with nursing her as long as she needs it. Yes, even if she is 2 years old. I know that is not culturally acceptable, but it feels right to me and I believe that relationship is very important...even past one year old.
Max never drank milk. He doesn't like it. I don't like milk either. At first, I was concerned about it. But after a lot of research and prayer, I decided it wasn't a big deal. We are made to think that dairy is where we get all of our nourishment, but that's simply not true. In fact, too much dairy can cause problems like inflammation and over-production of mucous. He eats a very well balanced diet and he eats other dairy products like cheese and yogurt very well. If you are concerned about liquid intake, you could offer almond milk, whole milk or raw cow's milk, or rice milk. I don't recommend soy milk.
As for the babysitter goes...here are my thoughts, and I realize that this may not be how everyone thinks, but it is how I feel. When I am a nursing mother, I try to remember what a privilege and blessing it is to be a nursing mother and to be the only one who can provide that nourishment for my baby. That means that I may have to sacrifice things while I am nursing. For example, I cannot leave my baby overnight or for more than a few hours at a time. But, to me, that never feels like a sacrifice, because honestly, I do not wish to be away from my baby or toddler for that amount of time. For me personally, if I need to get away and have time to myself, an hour or two is enough for me to feel rejuvenated. If we go on a date, that is trickier. I will make sure to nurse the baby right before we leave, and we will go on a short date. Or, if needed, we'll come home and feed the baby, then go back out. I have not had success with pumping after the first few weeks of the baby's birth. I don't pump more than just an ounce or so, so I don't even try. I just realize that a bottle is not an option for me, and leaving them for a long time is not an option either. As long as I realize that it isn't an option for me, it doesn't feel hard or annoying. Honestly, it doesn't bother me, though I know, for some women, it is very important for them to be able to not feel "attached" in that way. Or for others, who work, it is a necessity to be away. I don't have any advice on that front because I have not been in the situation where I've had to leave my baby for work.
When the baby is older, they can go longer between feedings. I find that it is much easier to leave the baby as they get older. Before the baby is 6 months old, I rarely leave. If I do, it is for only an hour and a half. Or else, I am rushing home feeling stressed that the baby is hungry. Once they can eat solids, you can distract them with that until you return.
Do you have any other questions? Did I answer everything you were wondering?