Saturday, April 16, 2011

Same old, same old: Extended breastfeeding

Welcome to the April Carnival of Breastfeeding on the topic of "Extended Breastfeeding" hosted by Blacktating and The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog. Read to the end for links to the other participants' posts.

breastfeeding three-year-old in the third trimesterWhen I started breastfeeding, I planned to go as long as my baby wanted to … but I sort of thought it would be shorter than it's turned out.

At six months, I was staunch. How silly to stop breastfeeding just because my little one might technically be ready for solids (which he wasn't really, but that's another matter).

At a year, I was determined. Why did I have to stop just because my infant was becoming a toddler or starting to speak? (Which, again, he wasn't yet, but he's caught up since…)

At a year and a half, I started feeling squeamish about nursing in public — but continued since he still needed so many frequent nummy breaks.

At two years, I started to wonder. How long exactly would he keep going? But it didn't matter. He still wanted it, and he was still a baby to me.

At three years, I was undeterred and unsurprised. It wasn't as if he had flipped a switch overnight, after all, just because he'd had a party and some cake. He still loved nummies, all day but, thankfully, increasingly less often during the night. How could I expect him to know three years old was beyond the pale of what most of his fellow citizens would consider too old to nurse?

3 year old in front of pregnant belly with head tiltedAnd then I got pregnant. I had assumed, with our plans of wide spacing between our children, that I would have weaned long before I became pregnant again. And it was a long, hard decision to go ahead and try to conceive, knowing my pregnancy might affect my milk supply, my physical comfort, and therefore Mikko's ability to find comfort and nourishment at the breast.

And it has been hard — both harder and easier than I expected. I'm in my third trimester now, and breastfeeding throughout this entire pregnancy has hurt a lot more than I was bargaining for. I lost my milk early on as well — and with it, that easy supply of calories, nutrients, and antibodies it was supplying my growing and picky boy.

And there was grieving on Mikko's side, too, but not as much as I'd feared. He's found it challenging to get to sleep at night, and to stay asleep without a full tummy. He clearly missed the milk when it first disappeared, but now he's come to terms with it, and it hasn't stopped his delight in crowing, "Nummies!"

But it's still not easy. It's made me miss those days when nursing was a transfer of milky satisfaction, when it was a pleasing and comfortable way to snuggle close with my little guy, to soothe injuries and fears, to nurse him (literally) through sickness, and to lull him to sleep. It's been challenging to keep breastfeeding in the midst of the pain, and there are certainly days I look at his three-year-old face and think, It's not like you need this anyway — aren't you too old?

But he's not. He's still a nursling, and the appropriate age for one. I know, looking back, that I will never consider three years old to be mature. I'll look back at pictures of his chubby, chubby cheeks, his mop of curls, and his pert little nose and I'll know — he was still a baby, even then.

The things that have changed in this pregnancy are things that were starting to change anyway. I'm less inclined to indulge in nighttime feedings. I'm less inclined to nurse in public. As someone who is an unwavering advocate of the right to breastfeed anytime, anywhere, and as someone who believes that asking someone to eat in a restroom is gross, I have to admit — I've become a bathroom breastfeeder. I take my big little guy into restroom stalls with me so he can grab the few seconds of comfort he needs, and so I don't have to worry that people are staring at the preschooler breastfeeding from the mama who's great (oh, so, very, very great at this point) with child. And we've been trying to avoid the subject with our families, as well, so we don't have to hear any criticism.

I still believe in extended nursing (or full-term or long-term or breastfeeding past infancy, or whatever you'd like to call it), and I would stand by any parents who wanted to nurse an older child in public, or stand up to their families, or otherwise challenge the status quo — but the longer I'm at this, the less I feel like I have to be the freak in the food court, the sole example of extended nursing to a society that's not accepting of the practice. Sometimes I wish I cared less what strangers think — but then I imagine one of them saying something to my child, and hurting his feelings. And since this has happened to some extent already, I feel that keeping our nursing relationship private at this point is best for both of us.

3 year old in front of pregnant belly smilingIn two months, my big baby will be four, and we will have a newborn and can begin the adventure of tandem breastfeeding. I wonder what then — will I be comfortable tandem nursing them when our families visit the new baby? Will Mikko soar back into all-day attachment with the refreshed supply of milk? Or will he wean — abruptly or gradually, soon or a long time from now? Every day brings us closer, I know, and at this point I'm still willing, in an unhurried and unworried way, to wait until he is ready, until he chooses to make the transition from nursling to not.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to my milk coming in again after the birth. Heaven knows which of my two babies will be more ecstatic when that happens — or if I will win that competition myself.

I look forward to feeling a sharp milk letdown again, to hearing the liquid pouring from me into my babies' mouths, to having it all feel good again.

But not just for me. I look forward to it for my boy, my soon-to-be four-year-old. Who doesn't know he's "too old" to nurse. Because he's not.

Have you breastfed past infancy or plan to? What are your joys and pains of nursing into toddlerhood and beyond?



Please visit our other Carnival of Breastfeeding participants:

40 comments:

melissa joanne said...

I love these photos of you and Mikko :)

We're now just over a month into our journey of breastfeeding in year two; and it feels mostly like it did in year one. I can't imagine stopping just because my girl is a busy, adventurous one year old. In fact, I cherish our breastfeeding relationship more than ever because she needs me less and less during the day as time goes on, so I'm thankful for the chances to reconnect.

Lindsey said...

Do you believe that there is never a reason to give your child a subtle push in the right direction? He doesn't know that he is too old to be breastfeeding because you have made him aware of that. I believe that there is a time for all good things to end. If he still wants "nummies" at 6, will you continue to closet breastfeed?

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

@melissa joanne: Thanks! I feel the same way. It's such a sweet connection.

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

@Lindsey: I object to your use of the phrase "right direction." If you'd like some links, they're embedded in the post, but basically breastfeeding toddlers, preschoolers, and even older children is completely normal from a global and historical perspective. It's our own culture that's turned it into something weird in people's minds. You might try reading Breastfeeding Older Children, by Ann Sinnott. Here's a review on Breastfeeding Moms Unite! that might be helpful.

Lindsey said...

As a breastfeeding mom, I am aware of all of the health benefits and the excellent bonding that it allows our children. When do you feel that it would be necessary to end this chapter in your child's life? I think that same question that I asked before is still relevant. Will you continue to closet breastfeed at age 6 if that is what he wants?

melissa said...

Lauren, your experience is similar to mine, and since my littlest baby is only 6 weeks, the memories of nursing through pregnancy are quite fresh in my mind! I too had my milk dry up early and experience more pain than I anticipated. Some days near the end it felt like razor blades, and there were one or two days where my toddler would latch on and I would ask him to stop because it hurt so much. But we persevered, and I'm happy to say our nursing relationship is very pleasant again and we've had plenty of happy nursings since our littlest baby was born. =) Hang in there!! I'm glad you know that nursing a nearly four year old is very normal, and good for him!!
I'd venture a guess that perhaps when you are no longer pregnant, you may come out of the closet again, sometimes, with Mikko. Being pregnant is a very emotionally vulnerable time and not when we want to be spokespersons for nursing older toddlers or whatever controversial thing we happen to be passionate about.
I have a sister in law who is passionately against toddler nurslings, and I just didn't tell her that I was nursing my 2.5 year old. A few days after our baby was born she was visiting, and my toddler was sick and jealous and tired and needed to nurse SO badly and I didn't hesitate (though I rolled my inner eyes) to nurse him in front of her, so the cat's out of the bag now!! She didn't say anything. To my face. And whatever she says when I'm not there won't hurt me
=)
Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy, I love the photos!!

melissa said...

And Lindsay, I'd recommend Ann Sinnott's book also; it's an interesting take on breastfeeding older children. Sinnott's stance is that children younger than six who wean are weaned too young! Six is still within a biological norm: apparently when compared to other mammals and how mature their young are when they wean, our babies should breastfeed until they are seven years old!
Six is fine. I have a friend whose five and a half year old still nurses. It's not a sexual behavior; its the crossover between sexuality and nurturing that make most people feel uncomfortable, perhaps this is the case for you.
Or perhaps it is a feeling that children should mature at a certain speed, but I believe children and babies know when they are ready to mature to the next stage of development, and that if Mikko is ready before six, he will wean before six. If not, he will not be stunted in his development or emotional growth!
Breastfeeding is normal! Even older children.

Inder-ific said...

My baby boy is almost two, and we still nurse pretty frequently. I'm staring down this concept of "self-weaning" right now. I have a feeling that Joe will be one of those kids who, left to his own devices, would totally nurse until he was six.

It is already getting pretty hard to nurse him in public, or actually, the hardest thing is around my family (who can't help but make less-than-supportive comments). Sigh.

Momma Jorje said...

@Lindsey re: subtle push in the "right direction"

Natural weaning (even lead by the baby) can have some input from a parent. Considering that Lauren stated she has been "less inclined to indulge in nighttime feedings" as well as "less inclined to nurse in public," the nudges are there.

I wouldn't consider her a "closet breastfeeder" ~ even if that term fits when in public or around family. I'm also willing to bet that if Mikko still feels a need to have nummies at 6yo and she is still comfortable with it (and lactating), she'll continue to fulfill that need.

Momma Jorje said...

I've really been considering emailing you this question anyway, Lauren, and this post opens the door for it...

If you had it to do over again, would you have waited longer to conceive? As you know, we're wanting to have another child. I've given myself a deadline based on my age (when I turn 40, no more birthing for me). But Sasha is just 1½ and our nursing relationship is still going very strong. She still nurses quite often!

I'm scared that getting pregnant might make my milk production stop as well. So if you had it to do over, would you wait or no?

Thanks. Oh, and come check out my carnival post, too! My first month to participate. :-)

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

@Lindsey: Hmm, well, I'm bristling at the term "closet breastfeed," too, but I've been putting off responding because I am very emotional today (for other reasons, mostly pregnancy/hormone-related, I suppose) and don't want to come across as attacking your position, because I do understand your perspective. I would absolutely be willing to breastfeed him at age 6. I hope that answers your main question.

I really like the way Melissa & Momma Jorje responded for me, because obviously they're feeling more clearheaded than I am right now. As MJ said, I don't really consider myself a closet breastfeeder right now — the people who interact with us locally know we still nurse and are supportive or neutral. My family is not as supportive, but they live far away, which is why I'm not as keen to nurse in front of them anymore. As for in public, I worry that people will say negative things to Mikko, which would bum me out. It's already happened, mildly, a couple times. I'm open about discussing our continuing nursing online and posting pictures, despite the fact that it might open us to criticism.

I feel like what I've been doing has involved weaning techniques: "don't offer, don't refuse," limiting nighttime nursing, asking him to wait, etc. But I'm all wrapped up in ambivalence about nursing right now myself, out of cultural stigmas that are hard for me to shake, and out of the physical pain I'm experiencing right now during pregnancy. What I don't want to do is project that ambivalence onto anyone else — including my child. He is wholeheartedly positive about nursing and doesn't see any negative side to it; it's comfort, it's food, it's closeness — I want to support anyone who chooses to breastfeed a long time, even my son. I hope that makes sense.

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

@melissa: Razor blades is exactly right! And I'm glad you understand how emotionally vulnerable pregnancy can make a person; I'm definitely feeling it. I can see "coming out the closet" when my family visits, just out of convenience and matter-of-factness. :) And you're right — if they want to talk about me behind their backs, so be it!

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

@Inder-ific: I think that must be toughest, to have your family say unsupportive things to you. Our family members tend to be much more passive-aggressive, which might or might not be better, but yeah — anyway, I hope you figure out what works for both of you. You've given Joe a great gift in nursing for almost two years so far.

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

@Momma Jorje: If I had to do it over again, I think I'd go ahead and choose the timing we did. I suppose no time is ideal, but I really relish the thought of giving Mikko a sibling and as the pregnancy has gone on, I am glad we don't have to wait any longer than this.

I mean, I can't speak for you, since Sasha's at a completely different age, but all I can offer is reassurance that you can find a way through, whatever you decide. When my milk dried up, I felt very sad about it, and the pain's been rotten, but we've found ways to cope, and Mikko's been much more adaptable than I expected. Know that your love and support of Sasha, apart from nursing and embodied in the connection of your nursing relationship so far, will sustain her through any changes that come. And baby dust! :)

Debe said...

My daughter is 4 and a half yrs old. I share many of the sentiments expressed about the in public and family judgments. The weird thing is that left to ourselves I would not feel in the least odd about continued nursing. I am certain I only question nursing now or feel shy about it to others because of the idea that people think I should be nudging my daughter the right way, so to speak. I also wonder why I should think it a weird thing that it feels normal if not for the perception of others' perceptions. I am a single mom and sometimes now my daughter stays with her dad. This always makes me feel anxious about the milk supply. But it is a part of the process so be it. I usually make a joke like "Will it not be funny to hear her say that she can not go to the pub with friends because she has to go home to nurse..." This joke does not really work, though.

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

@Debe: That's exactly it. I don't think it's weird at home, within my own thoughts, to be breastfeeding a 3-year-old. It's when I consider others' perceptions that it starts coloring my own. Thank you for your thoughts.

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

@Lindsey - I'd have to agree with Momma Jorje - it *does* sound like Lauren is giving Mikko pushes in the direction of weaning. Maybe weaning is not her ultimate intent, but limiting nursing is part of the gentle weaning process. As the mama of a bf'ing (almost) 3.5 yr old myself, I can empathize with Lauren - it is harder to bf in public, b/c I don't want Kieran to hear negative remarks. Sadly, that's where our society is, regardless of the continued benefits of bf'ing.

In an interesting survey done by Katherine Detwyller*, the natural age of weaning (taking away cultural biases) would fall somewhere between 2.5 and 7 yrs - what a lengthy span of time!

I think ultimately it comes down to what is desired by both mama and child. There's really no reason for you to question Lauren's decision to nurse Mikko at age 4, 5, or whatever - because it isn't up to you. Just as it isn't up to Lauren whether you wean your baby at age 1, 2, etc.

*http://www.kathydettwyler.org/detwean.html

Momma Jorje said...

Baby Dust! I forgot about Baby Dust! You are the first person to wish it on us, ever. But this is the first time in my life I've tried. We're trying a lot harder this month, so we'll see.

Thank you for your replies, here and on my own blog. I am anxious to have another baby (and am not patient when I really want something), but am also getting too close to 40 for comfort and I think the spacing will be nice. I'm just going to hope for the best with nursing and try not to stress it so much as to cause an issue just from the stress!

Again, thank you so much!

dohiyi mama said...

I look up to you so much for this, Lauren. I understand feeling uncomfortable in public. My 14 month old still nurses as much as she ever did but thankfully less at night, and I always think someone's going to say she's too big for that! But noone ever does. What people don't seem to get is that I'm in no hurry to wean. How am I going to get her to sleep, sooth her boo-boos, and calm her fears once nursing is over? I'm pregnant as well and experienced a sharp dip in my supply and then suddenly it came roaring back. I'm thankful for that and can't wait to tandem nurse- I think that will greatly dispell any jealousy. :)

I Thought I Knew Mama said...

I admire your mama-ing so much! I see no end in sight for Jac's love of "neh" and have no intention of stopping anytime soon. You're so right that when you look back at pictures of Mikko at 3, you will definitely see that he is still just a babe. Great point!

Inder-ific said...

It's lonely being the only person you know who nurses a toddler! It's encouraging just to read all of the accounts here. Time to join a LLL group, huh?

Patti @ Jazzy Mama said...

The issue of child-led weaning and getting pregnant again is interesting and I have enjoyed reading about different perspectives.

My four children are close in age: 20 months apart, 24 months apart and 30 months apart. I was nursing during each pregnancy, but only my 3rd child continued to nurse after the next birth. The other 2 weaned during the 3rd trimester.

In hindsight, I regret that my first two children weaned because of the lack of milk and my own physical discomfort (which led me to limit nursing sessions). I would have wanted them to wean when they were really mature enough to make that choice. And with my 4th, I am really looking forward to him being a nursing toddler WITHOUT a new baby in my arms.

But the mother's age is a big concern, isn't it? I knew I wanted a big family and since I didn't start until I was 30 (and since my partner is 15 years older than me) we were kind of in a hurry! Naomi Aldort suggests 7 years between children, but I think every mother has to make a realistic choice for her own family. Giving your child a sibling is such a HUGE GIFT that perhaps there is a trade-off with breastfeeding? Just an idea... My first 2 daughters who are only 20 months apart are the BEST of FRIENDS and share a bond that is even beyond my comprehension.

@Mama Jorje I tremendously respect your desire to preserve your nursing relationship before planning another pregnancy. Your daughter is very priviledged.

Good luck, Lauren! Only a few more weeks of pregnant nursing before the tandem nursing adventure begins.

Luschka @ Diary of a First Child said...

Oh Lauren! This made me well up! (I swear, if I didn't KNOW I'm not pregnant right now, I'd swear I was - I cry all the time atm!)

Anyway, what I was going to say is this: I have this problem with Kyra. She's only 18 months old, but she looks like a 2 - 3 year old. She is SO tall, she's normally taller than anyone else in her age group and sometimes as tall as three year olds, so people look at me accusingly if she, say, grabs a toy from another child, or can't answer a question when asked. They also look at me oddly when I pull her over my lap and start breastfeeding her in a restaurant. But she IS still a baby! (And then they compliment me on how well behaved she was over dinner too.)

I have found myself less excited about nursing in public, but I also think that's possibly cause Kyra latches on then pulls off and has a twiddle and chat with the nipple - which really isn't great when you're in the middle of a conversation with the waiter, lets face it! LOL.

Anyway, great post - and yes, I love the sound of K gulping down milk, especially at night :)

ccc said...

I found you on sascha's blog. I have 11 children and I have extended BF all of them. I have had most of them close in age. I have always tandem nursed because I believed in letting them wean when ready. The first pregnancy I nursed through was hard and I thought a lot of the things that you posted. But, the subsequent pregnancies I nursed through were easy until the last month. Most of my kids were 3 1/2 when they weaned, but one was 4 1/2 and one was 5. The ones that were older still can recall nursing and think of it fondly! One is my almost 19 yr. old daughter!
Tandem nursing I believe benefited both children and I never had an older sibling get upset when a new baby was born because he/she still"had mommy".
I know how hard it is to be an advocate for what you to believe to be best for your child. I have grown very thick skin over the years and quickly grew to not care what people--even family members--thought. My older children have grown up to be just what I wanted and have a close relationship with both parents. I still feel that I can "read" my children as teenagers and adults because of that close nursing relationship I had with them. I still am doing this with a 2 and almost 4 yr old now.
Good luck on your new baby and the tandem relationship!

Wendy said...

Much like Mama Jorje, above, I have a 1 1/2 year old child, and would very much like to conceive again before I turn 40. I'm struggling so much with whether I should nudge my son to begin the journey toward weaning. If we weren't planning another child, I would nurse until my son stopped completely on his own, whether that meant 2 years old or 4 years old. For now, we've decided to try to night wean (I need some sleep!) or at least slow down, and cut down during the day a bit to try to get my cycle started. I feel like I'm playing with fire a little by allowing my supply to dip, but I don't think I'm going to be one who can conceive while nursing. Whatever happens, I don't think I'll ever be able to completely deny my son the physical and emotional nourishment as long as he still wants it. To me, it feels like I"m denying him his mother, and it just feels wrong to me.

As a side note, as much as I would love it, I can't even imagine nursing a toddler while pregnant! My son practically stands on his head when we nurse now, and kicks me in the face nearly every time!

Holly said...

I can completely relate to this post! Thank you!

Claire said...

I totally understand what you're talking about with nursing in public. For the most part, I still feel comfortable nursing in public with Peanut. She's only 25 months and still a baby in so many ways. My problem is with friends. It's difficult to the be only example of full-term nursing in their lives. It's hard to know that they sometimes want to say something, but don't because they're my friends and they know I have strong feelings about this subject. It's hard to know they're probably saying things when I'm not around.

That said, I do hope to be in your position a month down the road. Peanut still loves to nurse so much. I also feel some guilt in wanting to have another and what it could do to my supply (among other things with Peanut moving to being a sibling rather than an only child). When purely thinking of my family and my needs, I really do hope that Peanut continues to nurse when I get pregnant. I think it will help the transition for all of us if she's still nursing when the next one comes. The idea of sister and brother/sister nursing next to each other makes me want to cry in joy.

I'm a full-time mummy said...

Oh man! I missed participating in this carnival!

I'm currently still nursing my 25 mths old boy while being 5 months pregnant. I just want to say breastfeeding rocks!

I hope to go for tandem when the baby #2 comes!

blissful_e said...

I'm nursing a 4-year-old, 3-year-old and 19-month old, and I am currently pregnant with my 4th child, due in June. I find the latches when breastfeeding while pregnant quite painful, but the close bond that nursing siblings have, as well as the lack of jealousy, makes it worthwhile.

Many of my thoughts on tandem nursing are in my carnival post, or linked from it.

Sarah said...

I nursed my now almost three year old through pregnancy with my two month old. She was just nursing for the same reasons, comfort and to sleep and my milk went away about half way through the pregnancy. I suddenly found myself going into tandem nursing, something that I never expected but was perfectly fine with, despite comments to the negative, mostly from my mother, who worried that my toddler was already to old to be nursing still. Two weeks after our new arrival and tandem nursing my newborn and I were diagnosed with thrush making nursing agonizing at best. I had a discussion with my toddler that mommies boobies hurt and she wouldn't be able to "do booby" for sleep that night. I heard her telling my husband that night that she wouldn't be able to "do booby" to go to sleep that night because "mommy's boobies hurt." The first few days were a little tough but I wasn't interested in potentially having myself, a toddler and a newborn with thrush. Now that we are almost six weeks into weaning, my toddler is content to have her hand in mine or my husband's shirt with her pacifier for the closeness that she needs to get to sleep or for comfort. I do miss our nursing relationship and I know that I could reintroduce but I'm so still battling the thrush and she seems to have adjusted well.

Lindsey said...

Reading back over my comments, I can see how you would find them harsh or critical. However, that is not my intent. I'm merely extremely curious about this because I cannot imagine myself breastfeeding my 4 year old at this point. This child is extremely independent and is trying to make his mark on this world. I feel like I would have hindered his out-going nature by continuing to breastfeed him until now. Any comments on this?

@@Lauren, As I am expecting right now also, I apologize for causing you any distress. You obviously do not need any extra worries right now.

Amber said...

I have not tandem breastfed, but based on second-hand information, it is very common for children to return to the breast with great zeal once your milk comes in. And it can actually help a lot with engorgement, so there's that.

I have directed my children's weanings - at 2 years, 10 months and now 2 years, 8 months - but I did my best to follow their cues and signs of readiness. It has worked well for me, but it wouldn't work for everyone. I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that whether we wean at 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 isn't what's important. What's important is the connection we create during our child's time at the breast. Nothing can take that away, whenever it ends.

Heather B (HomemadeMom) said...

I just found your blog and I'm loving it! I'm nursing my 22 month old and I love the breastfeeding posts. It feels like a support system I didn't know I had!

MomAgain@40 said...

Great post! We all struggle with exactly the same issues with regards breastfeeding. I will continue as longs as my Toddler still asks for it... (now 28 months)
It is great to hear that you don't force breaking that very special bond with your son!

Dr Sarah said...

Lindsey, in reply to your comment: I think the thing to remember is that every child is different, and every child/parent dyad is different. That means different things will be right for different children. If you feel that nursing for this long would not have been right for your son, then I'm betting you're correct in that, because you're the person best placed to make that judgement call. I don't think it would have been the best thing for my children, either. But, in the same way, I believe that Lauren is the best person to make the judgement call on whether it's the best thing for her son and her to be nursing this long. What works for your child or mine isn't necessarily going to be the best thing for anyone else's.

By the way, it's a myth that breastfeeding hinders outgoingness or independence. There are plenty of outgoing, independent breastfed children who don't appear to be hindered in the slightest by being breastfed. ;-)

Megan said...

I'm also breastfeeding in my third trimester. My daughter is 23 months and even though she tells me there's no milk and it does NOT taste yummy, she's still adamant about nursing!

I also have stopped breastfeeding in public and even in front of anyone except my husband, really. It's mostly because it's just so incredibly uncomfortable for me, that I just don't want anyone else around me. I mean really, I don't even want her on my lap most of the time, let alone nursing. And it's practically impossible for me to be modest in any way. I'm not confident enough in my body currently to be that exposed. I never had any issues with NIP until the end of the 2nd trimester, but after that, I just didn't want to anymore. I agree with you, that I just don't feel like I always want to be the poster child for extended breastfeeding and breastfeeding during pregnancy. I imagine I'll feel more comfortable again once I'm not uncomfortably pregnant.

To those who are thinking of conceiving while still nursing, I'd say that all different age gaps can work for different families. We knew we wanted our kids to be a little closer in age and so we went ahead and got pregnant when my daughter was about 15-16 months old. Looking back, that may have been a bit young, but we also didn't think we'd get pregnant quite as easily! haha. I'm looking forward to the bond my two children will share being so close in age (similar to my sister and me).

Donna said...

I love the pictures of you and your child (children)! We have five kids, all breast fed. All five loved it and nursed for over a year, with our second going til nearly three, and our fourth just now weaning at almost four. our fifth will be two in July and is still going strong. I can relate to all of this, although my family is very supportive. D'Lo (our 4th) was so delighted when my mile came back in after the birth of his younger brother, lol. It was funny. He had been so used to nothing and then a few days after the Adarius' birth when it finally came, he was nursing, pulled back and looked up at me with a confused be happy look on his face and asked "MILK?!!"

Julie said...

I BF my son until he was 15 months, about 2 months into my 2nd pregnancy. Your words remind me of how painful that time was, but how relieved I was to stop because of the pain.

My first instinct at reading is to question...if it's so painful, doesn't that seem like a natural transition to no longer nursing? Perhaps nature's signaling to stop? But I have to remind myself that MANY women have painful nursing experiences from day 0 to month 12...and clearly, breast is absolutely necessary at those ages.

It's a fascinating exploration of such a charged subject that is happening here...but I truly believe in my heart that even though I may not understand another mom's choice in this particular moment, they have the right to do whatever they want (when it's not harming the child...and clearly it's not!).

I believe my son would just now be deciding to wean (at 4) if I had let him continue as long as he wanted to. He often grabbed a "snack" when I was nursing my daughter. Now with our 3rd baby in the house, he has told me that he doesn't like "nanas" anymore.

My point is...at one point I could NEVER picture myself nursing until such a "late" age. But, knowing my son, knowing me, etc...it very well could have been.

I remember the stigma, the glares, and the judgment when he was a mere 15 months and only having nighttime feedings. I hope that you find encouragement to be the best mom for YOUR children.

After all, we are only called Mother to those we hold under our wings. To the rest, we can be a powerful example of love and nurturing...which you are.

May God continue to bless you on your journey of motherhood!!

Zoie @ TouchstoneZ said...

I love this post for the carnival. I hope you'll write more about your various (and varied) feelings about breastfeeding while pregnant (and with two) I wish that I had written more and take pictures of my nurslings on my big ole' belly! I also felt odd breastfeeding in some public situations when my children got past infancy and I in even more places when they wanted to tandem nurse. The tandeming in public was more about how exposed my body was with two latched on (especially when I was tandeming and heavily pregnant) I support your right to breastfeed wherever you feel comfortable whether that's in a stall or anywhere else. It's when that place is dictated by social pressure or rules that I think there's a problem with it. And, your right, there are a lot more women breastfeeding older nurslings who only do it in private. Anytime I do latch on one of my older boys, I notice there are usually a few other kids who plop down on their moms' laps asking to nurse, too-and I never would have known otherwise :)

BrambleRose said...

Your son is so adorable! What a ham!

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