Don’t we think we know it all before we become moms. How we are gonna do it. I’m not going to be THAT mom. That goo goo gah gah mom, that obsesivley smells her child, dresses him for every occasion, posts 96 pictures a day of her baby and his “milestones,: (OMG he yawned!!!!)
Surely my kid is going to act right and never cry. I’ll likely go back to work after six weeks. I’ll look like Heidi Klum within 2 months, and my child will certainly be sleeping through the night by six months. I’m going to read every book and every blog. I’m going to baby wear, and breastfeed, and teach him baby sign language.
And then…my baby was born..and guess what? I became and still am, THAT MOM. That goo goo gah gah mom, that posts too many pictures daily, dresses him for every stinking occasion (yay first post office trip!), and sniffs his neck while he’s sleeping. Two years later I haven’t gone back to work, I’m still babywearing, and yes, I’m (still) breastfeeding.
My 30-pound, muddy, spicy, toddler loves to nurse. Because he can talk now, I get told daily, “need the boobie,” followed by “ok fiiiine,” before I can even respond.
I’m ok with it…most days I even love it. It is one of the only ways I can still snuggle and comfort my on the go, active and playful toddler. It is the only way I can get him to nap or sleep and I love love love being able to nurture him in a way that no one else can.
Toddler nursing is highly misunderstood. There are still so many misconceptions about breastfeeding and that’s it’s solely for nutrition. Sure, it is. Breastmilk provides babies with EVERY single thing they need for the first year of life.
Nursing beyond 12 months provides immunities and vitamins, and can help protect your toddler from illness and allergies. If your toddler does get sick, nursing will help comfort them as well. In fact, a toddler with an upset stomach may be able to tolerate nothing but human milk. Just because your baby can walk, or talk or use a cup or drink other things, doesn’t mean he doesn’t get anything from nursing or that he needs to “be weaned.” The World Health Organization and UNICEF recommendations on breastfeeding are as follows: initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour after the birth; exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months; and continued breastfeeding for two years or more.
As a baby, my little NEEDED me to nurse him for hydration, and nutrition. I was a boob out, nursing machine. I didn’t let him cry EVER. Hungry? Tired? Fussy? Thirsty? Needing cuddles? Boob him. It was a cure all.
As he’s gotten older, he still associates nursing with comfort and attachment. It really is a beautiful bond. I get to stroke his face, and hold my boy who is growing entirely too fast. Some days, it’s exhausting. My son has YET to sleep through the night or in his own bed. Some days, we leave Target with him screaming because I told him he couldn’t nurse right then and there in the pillow aisle. But most days, it’s a beautiful, incredible thing that we share.
People ask me ALL the time, “when do you think you’ll wean?” or, “aren’t you tired?” Some people have suggested putting vinegar on my nipples or telling him mommies milk went sour. Well, the truth is, I’m ok with where we are at. Breastfeeding is a relationship between mama and nursling. When it stops working for one of us (him or me), I assume the nursing will slow down and we will both walk away satifsfied with our journey. I hope it is a natural and painless experience for both of us.
I am not the mom I thought I would be. I’m better. I didn’t plan on nursing this long, but I am. This is motherhood. There is never a plan.
So to the mamas out there nursing beyond two, I salute you! I am with you! The boobie pinching, the upside down nursing, face kicking, breast slapping world that is toddler nursing, I am with you.