Inquisitive pretty much defines the kind of child I was. Starting at a very young age, I remember my mom telling me about her undeniably magical experience with it.
If ever there was a mother who could really prepare her daughter for motherhood and all it’s glory, it’s my mom (along with many other women out there, I’m sure). When it came time to prepare for my first baby, I knew, without a doubt, Little Man would receive only breast milk (barring any complications). It wasn’t really a choice or decision as I saw it. Just a given. What didn’t I know? Just how incredibly satisfying and magical I would find it and for how long I would keep it up.
I’m not going to lie. In the beginning there was frustration and pain. Cracked nipples and in the first six months, three or four cases of mastitis (I kinda lost count).
Wait. Ok, before you stop reading and vow never to breastfeed, you should know: it was worth it AND I probably could have prevented two of the three cases of mastitis by taking things a little more slowly, eating well, drinking more water, and getting more rest. Moving into a completely different living situation (from an average suburban home to a tiny, badly designed, urban apartment) at the exact same time I was trying to transfer LM from our bed to a crib, brought much stress and eventually depression into the equation.
Anyway, I never thought I’d breastfeed LM past a year. Never ever. Not in one million, zillion years. I fully intended to wean LM no later than a year. I refused to be that “weird” mom who popped her boob out for her toddler at the playground to have a snack. I didn’t find it weird, I just knew others did.
When Little Man turned one, though, he was still so little and still so attached to breastfeeding. At that point, he was only nursing three to four times a day, we both knew exactly what we were doing, and it was extremely convenient on our vacation in Jamaica (we were there for the week of LM’s 1st birthday) to always have a snack available when all I had on me was a bathing suit.
Since then, I’ve continued to breastfeed and I’m still going strong. I tend to avoid publicly breastfeeding now because he doesn’t really allow for discretion and I’m a pretty modest person. He wants full access, which would mean flashing the whole world. I might be more inclined if I felt people weren’t already so squeemish about it, but that’s not a battle I want to fight on a daily basis.
So, here we are, six days from LM’s second birthday. As I nursed him before his nap and I watched his little tightly wound toddler body slowly submit to his exhaustion and relax, I realized how thankful I am for this. How thankful I am to God for my body’s ability to provide for my child, for giving me the strength to make it through the tough times, and for leading me to a community of RL and online friends who support extended breastfeeding. It’s a beautiful thing and I really wish it was celebrated more in this country. I wish the message spread by public figures and media wasn’t that breastfeeding is a nice choice, but not important. I wish breastfeeding a toddler wasn’t portrayed as something only those “crazy, hippies with nothing better to do” do.
I realize how hard breastfeeding can be in the beginning, but I just pray more woman come to know that, if you can hold out, it’s really worth the dedication. It’s a miraculous thing and shouldn’t be taken so lightly.