Friday, August 9, 2013

You're Still Breastfeeding?

So, it's National Breastfeeding Month and, for anyone who doesn't know, I'm an advocate of breastfeeding.  I'm just going to throw this out there:  I'm still breastfeeding our 20 month-old. I know, I know, many of you think I'm crazy.  Some of you are downright baffled by this.  I started receiving social pressure to wean as early as six months.  Six months!  That's just unreal to me. Here are some examples of the less-than-encouraging words* I've heard:

"That baby is too old."
"That's just gross."
"If they can ask for it, it's time to stop."
"But formula is so close to breast milk now, why would you want to blah, blah, blah?"
"Once they get teeth, it's time to stop."
"My pediatrician told me to stop at fill in the blank months and all of my kids turned out fine." 
"You're still doing that?"
"You need to give that baby some formula.  She can't be getting everything she needs."
"Can you go somewhere else and do that?" **

What's extra-awesome is that all of these lovely statements were totally free (completely unsolicited). These comments came from my family members, friends, acquaintances, and even complete strangers. Not once did I walk up to another mom and ask "Hey, what do you think about me breastfeeding my daughter?" Not once did I ask another mom, "Hey, what do you think about the fact that I'm still breastfeeding my daughter?"  I got so used to the negativity that I now offer justification for breastfeeding my toddler in anticipation of the remarks. Isn't it just amazing how we can bring someone down with our "advice?" 

Well, here's the thing.  Breastfeeding isn't about opinionated family members or friends.  It's not about precious, yet nosy, church people.  It's not about anyone who asks you to leave because they're uncomfortable with it.  It's not about anyone who can't separate breasts and sexuality.  It's not about anyone but you and your baby.   

Don't get me wrong, I didn't take any of it to heart.  After all, I was (and still am) committed to breastfeeding.  Prissy's 20 months-old and has no desire to wean.  I was obviously unaffected by the negativity. Unfortunately, my time breastfeeding her is coming to a close and I'm brokenhearted.  You read that correctly.  I'm brokenhearted about weaning her.  I hate the fact that I can't let her dictate the weaning.

I'm going out of town without her in a month and a half and the pressure is on.  I've pinned all the pins, I've read all the blogs, I know what to do.  I just hate that I don't have a choice.  This time has been beyond amazing for us.  I never really thought about when and how I would wean her.  It's been so good -and so easy- that stopping hasn't been something I thought about.  It's been more than nourishment; it's how she gets to sleep and how she's comforted.  It's all she knows.  She quit bottle feeding at two months. I'm not exaggerating; it really is all she knows.  I hate the fact that I'm about to rock her world. 

So, amidst all this rambling and ranting, what I'm saying is that I'm so glad I've been able to do this for 20 months.  I'm glad I was able to breastfeed and pump for The Boy for seven months.***  I understand why some choose formula, but I also know moms who switched to formula simply because of the lack of support when it got challenging or time-consuming.  To any of moms out there who are currently breastfeeding and moms who are expecting, remember that your choice is only about you and your baby!  I don't know any moms who breastfed and have said they regret doing it.  It has given me time to be with my kids -in a way completely orchestrated by God- and I wouldn't trade that for anything.  I'd endure all the comments and eye rolls all over again.  It's been that good for us. 

*We moved a few months ago and I'm happy to report that the nastiness happened before we moved.  Maybe the haters are concentrated to certain regions. 

** I don't nurse uncovered except in my own home. I've nursed in all kinds of places, but have only been asked to leave a few times.  All of those occurred in a church and more than one of them happened while I was nursing in the church nursery.  Sheesh!

*** The Boy was 3 months premature and was bottle-fed due to his prematurity and NICU stay. I pumped for 7 months with him, but he was only physically able to breastfeed after he was 4 months old.  Because he still used bottles while I was at work, he was so acclimated to the bottle that weaning him wasn't an issue. 


Jessica Swam said...

Thats great Emily! Sorry it has to end :( I breastfed Logan until he was 10 months old, and he never once used a bottle during that time. I was forced to quit when I broke my ankle and had surgery, I was on too much pain medication to feed him. It was very heartbreaking, but thankfully he pulled through . Can say I never received any negativity, and was never asked to leave. I guess that's a good thing because I'm not sure I would have handled that well :)

April Thompson said...

I know it is hard. :( Hannah still wakes some nights to nurse for just a minute and then falls back to sleep. She hasn't nursed in two nights so I'm thinking it may only happen a few more times. It's bittersweet for me. Sweet that I've also had an amazing time with my babies (Isaac nursed until he was 13 months) and no Hannah at 15 months. Absolutely nothing can replace that special bond. But I'll have to admit it, I have enjoyed getting a few nights of solid sleep. I haven't gotten in 4 years from being pregnant, nursing, pregnant, nursing. It's tough letting them grown up....and knowing it's my last one...makes it a little harder to let go. :( Love y'all! Wish we were seeing y'all this month.

Emily said...

Jess, I can't imagine having to stop so suddenly!

April, I think that's part of it too. Knowing that once this is over and how we're moving into a different season. Bittersweet is the perfect word. Not so bittersweet that I'm longing to be pregnant again though. ;)