Tag Archives: nursing

Hi. I’m Jane. And I Nursed My Son Longer Than 2 Years.

(Jane clears throat and steps gingerly onto her soapbox.)

Hi.

My name is Jane.

And I nursed my son longer than 2 years.

Go ahead. Start slinging the arrows. Label me crunchy granola. Slap the handcuffs on my wrists and haul me away to crazy-mommy-jail. (Do they have Starbucks? If so, I’ll go willingly.)

I didn’t plan on nursing for so long. I knew I wanted to breastfeed. (Because, after all, that IS what my breasts were designed for, contrary to popular belief.) So when my pediatrician asked me if I’d given any thought to weaning I answered, “Yes. I read it’s best to nurse until a year old. And that’s when I’m planning on stopping.” She smiled a knowing smile and handed me a pamphlet on the latest statistics (7 years ago) and said, “Well, the World Health Organization now recommends breastfeeding until age 2 or longer, whichever is best for both mother and child.”

This was new thinking for me. But after exhaustive research (because I’m really a research nerd-junkie at heart) I decided to practice “child led weaning” or natural weaning. Yes. I said natural weaning. Because if it’s forced, it is un-natural. (I’m on my soapbox so I can say this.)

Now, I wasn’t the perfect crunchy-granola mom. I tried to practice a “don’t offer, don’t refuse” approach to the “natural” weaning process. But I succumbed to societal pressures. If we were in public, if guests were visiting who wouldn’t understand, I’d gently redirect and say, “Not now.” Sometimes I’d offer an explanation. But he didn’t really care. A redirect was fine.

But the fact that I was still nursing at (OK. I’ll admit it.) 3+ years of age? It was my dirty, little secret. (And not THAT kind of dirty, little secret. If that’s what you were thinking? Please. Just leave now. There isn’t enough room in the blogosphere to convince you otherwise and I’m not about to try.)

Frankly, I find it pathetic that only 57% of women in the U.S. even try to breastfeed their baby, compared to the 98% in Sweden, Norway and 94% in Rwanda. I understand that for some women, breastfeeding isn’t an option due to health issues. I get it. I truly do. But when a 6 month pregnant woman in my bookclub says, “Oh, no. We’re not going to breastfeed. My husband  and I just aren’t comfortable with that.” And she shakes her head with disgust, with a grimace on her face? I’m the one who is disgusted. (And I tried to hide MY grimace but as you all know, I do not have a poker face.)

And I tried. I really tried not to make a comment about the fairly recent Time magazine cover “Are You Mom Enough?” with the 3-year-old nursing. But hold onto your hats, because here I go.

First of all, I never, ever, ever nursed my 3 year old standing up with him on  a step stool.

Second. If you can’t nurse for whatever physical reason? You get a big, fat automatic pass at breastfeeding. No questions asked. But if you “can’t” nurse because it grosses you (and your husband) out? Maybe you aren’t mom enough.

Third. I understand that Time was trying to elicit a response with their shocking cover. But really. Natural weaning and attachment parenting practices should be a non-issue. They are practiced all over the world. ALL the heck over. We’re the ones with the issues that we need to just get over. Plus, different strokes for different folks. Stop the judging and start supporting each other. Maybe more moms would see the light.

And D (now you really know I’m angry because I’m mixing up my argument structure), that blog that wants to punch people in a place that would really hurt because they tick them off? You can be on your soapbox but please back up your argument with facts. Attachment parenting does not mean that you nurse until your child can spell “delicious and refreshing breast milk” and they co-sleep with you until middle school. I know you’re trying out the Time magazine shock technique, but honestly? You come across sounding mean, angry, hostilely judgmental and insecure in your own parenting skills.  But since that’s the point of your blog, I’ll just stop there.

Yes. I’m a crunchy, granola mom. By accident. Because that’s what felt right for me and my child. At that time in our lives. In that moment. I didn’t ask for anyone’s permission. I didn’t ask for anyone’s opinion. I just did it because that’s what felt right. And sadly, for me anyway, I honestly can’t remember the last time my son nursed. It had tapered off to a point that one day, a day I will never remember because it felt like any other day, he decided it would be his last. He didn’t need it anymore.

As it should be.

(Stepping off my soapbox, and ducking from the arrows, I just want to say whatever is was that YOU did about feeding your infant/toddler/child? It’s your business and your business alone. I don’t care what you did. I know what I think is best but that’s just it. It’s MY opinion. Not yours. You go off and have your opinion. Just don’t want to punch me in the throat because of mine.) 

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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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