My BFF Story – But Not The BFF You’re Thinking Of. The Other BFF.

(To all three of my male readers, the following post is probably TMI. You have been warned.)

Breast Feeding Forever. My BFF Story. I nursed my sons. And with my youngest son, it was for a very long time by Western standards. And, yes. It felt like forever. But now? So short. So long ago.

I’ve read a few of your blogs out there and have seen a few posts or comments remarking about your nursing experience. I just wanted to give you a shout-out, a kudos, an atta-girl! Go YOU!

My sister was very encouraging about me nursing my children. She suggested that I go to a few La Leche League (LLL) meetings but warned me about the “Nursing Nazis” (her words, not mine, but you know who we’re talking about). Yes, I met a few. And yes, I’m afraid to admit – they pulled me over to their side. And because I’m a bit uncomfortable with that label, let’s just say I am VERY pro nursing.

Our #1son arrived home from Korea when he 6 months old and I was about 6 months pregnant. Some of my crunchy-granola friends asked me, “Are you going to nurse #1son?” Nurse my adopted son? I never considered that. Ummmm, yeah, I guess. Will he know how?

A few months after he arrived, he tried. Sporadically. Maybe my body wasn’t ready. Maybe he was just too unfamiliar. But it didn’t work.

Then, #2son arrived. His interest was rejuvenated.

#2son was born 9 lbs. 12 oz. When the pediatrician came in to check on us he said, “Congratulations! You’ve just given birth to a happy, healthy two month old!” And he was right. This boy was big. Eyes bright and wide open. Rarely slept. And wanted to nurse like a hungry lion cub. I had inverted nipples (I warned you guys out there. This might be TMI. Now go back to your basketball game.) and we had a difficult start. Ok, a very difficult start. But I was determined. And stubborn. So was he. I had done the research. This was important and there’s nothing I can’t do once I set my mind to it.

We struggled and struggled. A friend warned me that it might be hard to get into a rhythm but she said, “If you need me, call me. Day or night. Even if it’s 2 in the morning and you’re about to pull your hair out. You call me. It will all be ok.” My sister said, “Once you get past the first couple weeks it’ll be a breeze. Trust me.” I am so glad I had two amazing woman say those simple words to me. Because they were right. There were times when I wondered how in the world the human species survived. And then, as if magically, it was the most natural, easiest thing I’d ever done as a parent.

At his 10 month check-up, my pediatrician asked if had I thought about weaning. I told her, yes. When he was a year old.

She said, “Well, you know, they now recommend until age 2 or longer, whichever is best for mother and child.”

Until he was two? Isn’t that a little un-natural? So I did my research. She was right. The World Health Organization and The American Association of Pediatrics both recommend: After 6 months of age, “ infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.” I had to readjust my expectations.

My son was a nursing fiend. Convincing him to continue wasn’t difficult at all. And by this time, my son through adoption was enjoying a little cuddle/nurse time with mommy, too. But never for very long. Wait. Scratch that. Never for very long – when no one else was asking or watching.

I remember at a play date, with other LLL mothers, someone asked, “Are you nursing #1son, too?”

“Oh, very infrequently, ” I replied, “He doesn’t seem to be that interested.”

And then, as if on cue, #1son started pawing at my shirt. So, I cradled him and let him latch on, just to show the other moms what I meant. He nursed for 10 minutes straight. A record for him. He showed me!

Both sons nursed as long as they wanted to. #1son quit long before #2son. His choice. #2son nursed long into toddlerhood. When your child is nursing as a toddler, it is not all day long. Typically he’d nurse when he was tired or upset. Always at bedtime. Rarely during the day. At risk of being adversely judged here, I’m not going to share the age he quit. Suffice it to say, it was for a long time by Western standards. Long enough, that when a friend realized we were still nursing she remarked, “Well, that’s just gross!”

But that’s ok. I’m fine with being gross. For us, allowing my son to determine when he no longer needed to nurse was the most natural process. Once I tossed aside my preconceived notions of what was right or necessary we could just be in the moment. There was never any struggle to stop. I never felt physically uncomfortable. His need to nurse just naturally faded away. As will the need for every other emotional and physical stepping stone. My 17 yr. old daughter no longer sleeps with her “Bun-bun.” As adults, we no longer crave as many dairy products or carbohydrates. 

Effortless. Calm. Natural. 

Natural weaning was best for us, for our family. I honestly can’t remember the last time we nursed. And that makes me a little sad. And it makes me happy. It means we did the right thing for our son. We allowed him to be who he was. We allowed him to grow and mature on HIS timetable. As a result, we have a very happy, healthy (never had an ear infection in his life!) easy-going, good-natured child.

I’m not saying natural weaning is responsible for all of his wonderful traits. But it sure didn’t harm him, either.

(Before the criticisms start to fly please know this: I did my research about – tandem nursing, nursing while pregnant, and natural weaning. Lots and lots of research. We made our decisions fully armed with loads of information from both sides. And yes, I call it “natural weaning.” I know this implies that anything other than that is unnatural. Not wrong. Un-natural. As in, not allowing for the natural progression of things. If you or someone you love weaned in any other way — good for you (or them!) You did what was right for YOUR family. I completely, utterly, totally respect that course of action. All I ask is that you please respect the way we chose to wean.)


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26 responses to “My BFF Story – But Not The BFF You’re Thinking Of. The Other BFF.

  1. suzicate

    I think nursing and time frame of it is a toatlly personal choice. I nursed my children as well. I think it does strengthen their immunity system. Good for you and your family for doing what’s right for you all.

  2. You need to write a memoir, Jane. You took care of a 6-month-old while pregnant? Had two babies in the house at once? You breastfed with inverted nipples? You need an award, and more than just a blogging one.

    (I also wrote about breastfeeding. In the end, I really do think it’s all about doing what feels right for you and your family.)

  3. I nursed all 3 kids a year and the 3rd till a year and a half. I wished she’d gone longer. I think it’s funny but sad, the attitude people give nursing moms. What’s our problem?
    How great that your first son got this experience as well!

  4. Way to pick the controversial issues!

    Both my son’s grandmothers didn’t nurse, so I was granted a lot of incredulity from them as to why or how long I would nurse. Let me just say, that all the positive “peer pressure” from the pro-nursing front couldn’t make up for consistent negativity. I’m happy to hear that there are people stronger than me.

    • I only had a sister who was supportive – to the rest of the family (on both sides) I was some weird black sheep. Luckily, they all lived out of state. But you make a good point about support from family and friends and how it can make a difference.

  5. Hmm… you must be psychic ’cause I was just talking about this with a friend today. When I said that I’ve been thinking about nursing my son until he doesn’t want to be nursed, she gave me a “that’s just sick” look, rolled her eyes and said “you’re weird”.

    Good to know I’m not weird (or not the only one anyway) 🙂 thanks for sharing.

  6. Good for you! Handling two baby boys at once. . . whoa! The age difference made it even harder than having twins, I’ll bet. I’m impressed that your body wasn’t too tired to make milk. You must be very capable and easy-going!

  7. Just like parenting styles, nursing styles are different. Both of my sons nursed differently and until different ages. You need a gold medal for nursing two boys of different ages at the same time!

    The “Ew, gross” comment and people’s lack of open-mindedness surprises me. I makes me wonder how long her child sucked on a binky and if anyone criticized her for that.

  8. Good for you! I nursed both girls but didn’t make it as long as you did. #1 daughter couldn’t figure out how to suck, swallow and breath in rhythm the first few weeks. It stressed me out, which, in turn, stressed her out! But eventually, we fell into a groove and it was good.

  9. I think it’s wonderful that you’ve written your nursing story here. So many moms need consistent support.

    And as an aside…thanks for adding to my itty bitty wanna-baby itch…


  10. Hey, I somewhat enjoy nursing my kids!! : )

    Where I live, nursing is THE THING. It’s true. It seems that ALL the moms nurse their babies. So, I didn’t think people still used bottles! Hah!! Anyway, I mostly enjoyed nursing. I am (eventually) going to write about my experiences.

    Kudos to you for nursing BOTH your sons! I’ve heard of moms who nurse their adopted babies so I think it’s awesome that you did it!

    P.S. We call them “boob nazis” over here.

  11. You are not a nursing Nazi just because you’re pro-nursing. Nursing Nazis don’t think everyone should do what’s best for them, they think…oh never mind, it makes me tired just thinking about it. I loved nursing my kids — they both self-weaned way before I was ready, which was still longer than a lot of my friends nursed. Sometimes I think the long-term nursers exaggerate the disapproval they get from others, but based on your story maybe I’m wrong. I think it’s incredibly cool that you were able to nurse your baby and the #1 son.

  12. My son weaned himself out of the blue, and I’m still surprised by it. Like one of yours, he didn’t sleep much, and when he was awake he was hungry (still true). But one day he just stopped. Is there a chance that the same thing will happen with diapers? 🙂
    I love reading encouraging, enthusiastic things about breastfeeding. One of my (actual) BFFs lives in a part of the country that still sees it as somewhat taboo. Her doctor prescribed her babies extra vitamins because they weren’t formula-fed!

  13. My very first memory is of “showing” my new baby sister how to breast feed.

  14. What Jana said. It could not have been easy with one infant, let alone two! You have my admiration. And when it’s our turn for children, I am totally going to remember this for reference.

  15. I think it is so very much about personal choice, a choice made by the mother and the baby together as to what works for them (and how long). No one should be criticized for that choice; it’s a tough one to make no matter what you end up deciding. Thanks for you honesty (and, as always, empathy), Jane.

  16. I weaned #1 when she was about a year old and VERY much against her will. I was about 2 or 3 months pregnant with #2 and I quit for selfish reasons.. IT HURT! I wish now I had let it progress more naturally. We had a heck of a time getting her to sleep at night after that. I’d have to ride her around in the car to get her to sleep! Totally UNnatural and I listened to too many naysayers…Good for you being able to stand up to them!

  17. First off, I applaud you for taking the path that worked best for your family, even if Western conventions contradicted your decision. Sometimes it’s so hard as a parent to follow your instincts and disregard the meddling opinions of others.

    I nursed my son for 13 months. Thankfully, we had an easy time getting started. I had good supply and he had a good latch. I went back to work after maternity leave and pumped in my office 2-3 times a day for 10 months. It was a pain. Truly, I hated pumping. But I LOVED nursing.

    At 11 months he started rejecting his bedtime feeding. Shortly thereafter he was starting to reject other feedings, and I was ready to have my body back to myself. I do remember my last feeding. I knew at the time that it would be the last one and it was. It was quiet and cozy and perfect.

    Sometimes I miss nursing because my son is not a snuggler and I wish for those mornings with him curled up on the Boppy in my lap. But for the most part I’m not sad. At some point I’ll get to nurse another baby, and I can’t wait.

  18. Great post! You have such amazing stories.

    I’ll admit it. I forced Sean off. I know. I know. Bad mom. But he was 11 months and REFUSED to go to anyone else for ANYTHING. “Mommy had the food and that’s where I want to be.” The kid was a leech. I needed to take a shower.

  19. Pingback: One Hand On The Keyboard And The Other Is Giving A High Five « Theycallmejane's Blog

  20. I’m not going to read the comments for fear I will see a mean one. I can’t handle that. I nursed all of my kids…Olivia I nursed for 2 months while I was pregnant with Gabe. I was going to nurse both my boys for as long as possible…and they both weaned themselves at around 9 months. Bummer for me, but I was glad I didn’t have to be the one to stop it. Good for you, you nursing nazi! 😉

  21. NathanRising

    Awesome, awesome, awesome! GOOD for you! I’m still breastfeeding Nathan, and he’s 13 months old. I have no intentions of stopping until he himself is ready, regardless of how many people ask me “you’re not still breastfeeding, are you?” with a bit of disgust in their voice. (So irritating because my parenting decisions do not affect them whatsoever, so why does it even matter to them?) Geez. America has such a double standard about boobs. It’s ok to have boobs as long as they are used for sexual purposes but taboo to use them as they are meant. Quite bizarre.

  22. Michelle

    Congratulations for doing what was best for you, Jane. I just have one suggestion; that when a mother decides that SHE is finished nursing, that is not necessarily “unnatural”. If you look at various animals; i.e. horses, cows, dogs, cats, we see that the mother definitely decides that shes’s had enough of nursing at some point. Horses will actually gently kick their colts away from the teat, and cats and dogs just run away when the babies try to nurse. I would say that is nature; and the behavior is natural for those animals. So if a human mother decides that she does not need to nurse anymore, and that her child is ready to be weaned, isn’t that also a natural behavior? I just think that sometimes we put so much emphasis on allowing kids to do what they want, and forget that our role as parents is to make decisions about what is best for our children; not the other way around.

  23. I hate that I am so incredibly late for this. I am such a nursing advocate. I have considered on many occasions going into lactation consultation.

    I had my first baby 10 days before I turned 22 and I nursed until her 2nd birthday. For me, it is one of the most incredible and peaceful things about being mother. 8 years later, my second baby is 13 months old. She is only nursing 2-3 times per day now, but she often cuts these sessions short because she just doesn’t want to sit still for very long. It makes me sad to think these days may soon be over. But I am glad to be practicing child-lead weening. What is important is that she is ready.

    I agree with Gale- pumping is the pits! I was so glad when I could stop lugging that pump back and forth from work everyday!

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