A couple weeks after we arrived in Idaho, I was sitting in one of the aforementioned rockers, cradling my baby girl and feeding her. Another momma walked in, and Verity looked up to meet her newest friend.
"How old is your baby?" I asked, after watching the little ones eye each other with interest.
"Three months," she replied. "What about yours?"
"She turns one next week," I said, suddenly aware that I was quickly approaching a stage in parenting when the vast majority of people would think I'm a total weirdo for continuing to nurse my baby. The awkward silence that followed proved that I had guessed correctly.
***********When I was pregnant I did a lot of reading. I was never on bedrest, but I felt so awful most of the time that I pretty much put myself there. If I wasn't cooking or napping, I was reading up on everything from pregnancy, to childbirth, to parenting, etc.
I read that the AAP recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of their life, and so I decided to make 6 months my goal. Somehow it didn't occur to me that babies don't just switch from milk to solids overnight.
So with some more reading, I decided I'd make my goal one year. That's what the AAP says, right?
Well, anyone who's tried it knows that breastfeeding is not easy. Which is weird, right? Because it's what our bodies were designed to do. And you'd think it would come as naturally and smoothly as that.
I was in for the surprise of my life. After that first I-didn't-know-pregnancy-would-be-hard surprise (hint: if you're considering having a baby or are already pregnant, spend some time with other preggos or new mommas. they'll tell you more than just how much they love being a mom). My perfect little baby was stubborn as could be. She entered this life with sass, this one.
"Ummm.. you tryin' to show me how to do this? I can figure it out for myself, thank you!" she would have said.
Then came a mild thrush infection. Then some mild reflux. Then a mild nursing strike... the list continues. I use the word "mild" here, because while we conquered some tough battles, I know there are plenty of mommas out there who've seen much, much worse.
But you know something? We stuck with it. I dunno how, but we did it. And the reason we did is because giving my family the best nutrition possible is important to me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not hating on moms who bottle feed. The invention of formula has saved the lives of many babies who for one reason or another could not be adequately nourished with breastmilk. And there are many reasons. I understand. There's no judgment here.
In my case, there was no reason to stop. As far as I could tell, nothing really magical happened when she turned one that would indicate her readiness to wean, either. So really.. why stop now?
I think the biggest hindrance to nursing past 12 months is the social scorn people face when word leaks out that they're nursing a toddler. Yeah, what's up with that, anyway? Sure, I pretty much never want to find myself in public with a child that is shouting out "I want boobies!" embarrassingly loudly, or lifting up my shirt to get to them in front of other people. I would be 100% uncomfortable with that; it's not going to happen. Maybe that's the sort of social stigma that most people have in mind?
As for us, until I'm confident that my little one can get the nutrition she needs without me, I'm going to keep feeding her the best way I know how. A well balanced diet of solid foods and the ability to drink her own fluids are definite precursors to weaning and we're just not there yet.
Not to mention, it's a little sad. What began as an absolute nightmare has turned into a sweet, unique relationship with my little girl. It's been the way we say good morning, the only way she'll snuggle before bed or any other time during the day, for her entire life. I'm going to miss nursing her when she decides she's too grown up for it. (You knew I wasn't going to miss an opportunity to add to the already huge amount of my-baby-is-growing-up drama that's been taking over this blog lately.)
The cat's out of the bag, haters.
I'm still nursing my 13 month old, and I have no immediate plans to stop.