I love breastfeeding.
I know, shocker right?
Anyone who knows me as a mother knows that I advocate strongly for nursing mommas and the right to nourish your child whenever and wherever, without a cover.
Anyone who has been around me as a mother has seen my utters 😂 and nipples countless times and have openly admitted that as a result, I have desensitized them..they don’t see my breasts as sexual at all anymore. #yasqueen #freetheboobies
But many people wonder why I still am nursing.
Some think I’m a weirdo because of it. Some don’t care.
Some think it’s because I’m too attached to my son and want him to need me.
Some think it’s more for me than for him.
Some think it’s because I don’t know how to wean.
Here’s the thing. I just love it.
Its 9:45 in the morning and my son is going down for a nap. He just had his morning snack of fruit…He got strawberry juice all over his shirt, hands and face. Like usual, I wiped his face and hands as he reached out expectantly, and then he put his arms up to have his messy shirt removed.
After we said bye to Daddy as he was going off to work, my son reached for me and smacked his lips to let me know he wanted to nurse. He hugged me and yawned.
Yay, nap time!!! Time for mommy to shower, or write, or paint. Enjoy hot coffee. Or whatever.
As I sit us down in our glider, as I latch him on and he snuggles against me, I feel his wittle tummy against mine. He’s my little newborn again. He looks at me and for minutes we just stop the world together. I am forced to focus solely on him and snuggle him. I’m not saying mothers who don’t breastfeed don’t snuggle their babies and toddlers or can’t connect with them. I’m not insinuating that at all. It’s just that personally, as a big sister to two and having previously been a nanny for 10 years, I have never experienced something so innocent and delicate and special and bonding before.
I have cuddled up and read to kids before naptime and bedtime countless times. But I feel the same sensation I felt when I was carrying him in my womb and could feel him move about. A magical feeling only I could experience, a secret between us two. My body continues to nourish my son, and nursing allows me to take several moments a day to stop what I’m doing and devote myself to only him.
There are days that I am distracted. The house and husband need me. I need me. I can’t play right now, honey. I need to clean or cook. That load of laundry hasn’t been switched over in days. I want to paint or write or take a long bath or actually wash my hair and shave my legs all at the same time. I want to listen to music, I want to read my Bible. I just want a break from motherhood for a moment and nap time wasn’t enough. I think all moms can relate to that feeling, SAHM or not. Give me ME back, please. Not always, not even the majority of the time, but sometimes, it does happen. I am not Mother Teresa and I am human.
He doesn’t need to nurse for sole nutrition. He can and does eat real food and enjoys fruits and vegetables and chicken. He eats very healthy. However, on the days that I am lacking emotionally with him, I am not as attentive as I’d like to be, I’m making him be a little more patient than an 18 month old needs to be, he waits and tells me, in his own way that, “Mommy, I need you! Look at me and see me. Give me some of your time and attention.”
Nursing brings me back to him when he needs me.
Don’t we all feel that way sometimes with the people we love? Put your phone away and look at me when you’re talking, please. Are you even listening? You haven’t been very attentive with me today, I’m feeling left out. I’m feeling needy. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a signal as easy as smacking your lips to make that person just remember and hold you and focus on you?
I can’t sleep when my husband works late. If I do fall asleep, I don’t sleep well. But as soon as he comes into bed and lays his body next to mine, I feel comforted and safe and can drift into a deep slumber. His body next to me in those moments isn’t sexual, but it is healing and comforting. His skin next to mine, hearing and feeling his breathing. The cuddles.
It’s like that for my son. When he wakes up in the middle of the night, he reaches for me and calls for me, and I am there for him. Just like Hubby is there to offer me a comforting embrace if I wake up in the middle of the night.
Adults need and enjoy these same things but we think it’s weird and that a child should outgrow this. When we ourselves don’t outgrow this need.
And that’s just the physical and emotional aspect I’ve touched on.
Nutritionally speaking, the benefits my son gains from extended breastfeeding is incredible.
He is 18 months old and has been sick once. A few weeks ago he got the stomach flu. But you’re a stay-at-home-mom, you think. Of course he doesn’t get sick. Well, I wasn’t always, and in fact I used to bring my son to work with me when I nannied 5 days a week, 7+ hours a day. From the time he was 6 months old until he was 14 months old. He was surrounded by a 2 1/2 year old, a 3 1/2 year old who attended preschool 3 times a week, and a kindergartner. Which meant exposure to germs and shared toys and dirty hands and sneezes and coughs and accidental cup mix-ups and sneak attack kisses. 😊 I also do leave the house and he sits in public grocery carts and such and indulges in a dirty seat belt every once in a while. He never got sick. He got a stuffy nose a couple of times but skated past stomach bugs and coughs and any other type germ that came our way.
The times the other kids got sick, my son would nurse like a maniac. Sometimes every hour and all night. I would be drained and often times get sick myself, but he’d be okay. He was exclusively breastfed for his first year of life and very gradually introduced foods. I attribute his strong immune system to nursing. Babies get passed mommy’s immune system and nursling’s saliva actually stimulates a response from my body to send tailor-made antibodies straight to him. How amazing is that?? I don’t want to give that up.
Once, I got pink eye from work and wasn’t allowed to get prescription drops since I was nursing. Bummer. The gel burned my eyes like acid and I couldn’t see. Not ideal for driving or walking or living at all. Guess what this hippy mom did? Put breastmilk in my eyes twice a day for 2 days. Gone. The prescription needed me to use the gel twice a day for 2 weeks. #aintnobodygottimeforthat
A couple times my husband has gotten a stye in his eye. He ran out of the cream that used to work for him. Breastmilk. Gone.
When my son had the stomach flu, this was the only thing he could keep down longer than 2 minutes. He’d last at least 30 minutes to an hour, when water would come up instantly. I was afraid he would get dehydrated, but at the breast he stayed and when he would have full breastmilk poops, I knew he was getting enough.
This stuff is bananas, it’s magic and they don’t call it liquid gold for nothing.
I have missed out on party nights and the bar scene. I have missed out on weddings because I physically can’t be away from my son for longer than 4 or 5 hours without nursing, I have struggled with clogged milk ducts and several times have just missed mastitis. But all of the benefits outweigh the negatives for him and I. Did I mention each year I nurse, I exponentially lesson my risk of breast cancer?
I will wean my son… But only when he is ready. And when the time comes, I just might pump to save some of this gold for later.