Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The upsides and downsides of extended nursing

I never expected that I would still be nursing M at 28 months.  As with most things, it has its good aspects and its not so good aspects.

One of the nicest things about it is that I still think of and visualize M as a baby.  Extended nursing is, at least in my mind's eye, keeping him from becoming a big boy too soon, which is a special blessing since he is my last baby. Once this roller coaster stops, that is it:  I will never nurse another baby.

Of course, I think of most 2-year-olds as still very much baby-like, even if they are not nursing.  I have never understood putting 2-year-olds in preschool or MDO programs (unless the mom has absolutely no family anywhere near and has a husband who travels a lot).  Two-year-olds need to be with their mommas because they are toddlers....just barely beyond the threshold of babyhood.

Another great benefit of extended nursing is that it gives both N and G a chance to see (and hopefully remember) seeing me nurse their brother.  Hopefully it is normalizing breastfeeding for them, making it something they will expect to do or expect their wives to do if they ever become parents.

Making other people uncomfortable is also a nice side effect of extended nursing, and I am just ornery enough to get a cheap thrill out of doing so.  I do not expose myself and leave it all hanging out, but I also don't attempt to cover with a blanket because M wrangling the blanket and kicking it would be far more obvious than just holding him close in my lap.  I have no problem glaring back at anyone who gives me a "disgusted" look.  Last week I sat at the front of Lowe's on a bench with M in my lap nursing and G at my side facing customers check out at the self-service machines.  I have a hard enough time getting the boys through the store to get the items I needed; I'll be damned if I'm gonna haul ass to the back of the store near the restrooms just to be more private.

The only real downside I have at this point is being home to put M to bed.  D can put him to bed but it can involve an awful lot of tears (on M's part) and frustration (on D's part).  I just arrive late to book club, which is just about the only "fun" thing I am able to do given our schedule and desire to be home most nights of the week.  M won't nurse forever, and at some point I will be able to arrive on time to book club.

This is a short-lived span of time, which I try to remember on those rare occasions when I get a little overwhelmed that I have been doing this for 28 months.  


Bethany Haid said...

You know, I agree with you that 2 year olds are still babies. Its kind of a hard pill to swallow for me, since I have a For Real Baby here, and I also have a Mr. Independence. I've given him so much independence. I still do an incredible amount of holding, cuddling, lap book time, so it should make sense that I see extended nursing as a Thing I Could Do. But it is a Think I Cannot Do. I cannot imagine nursing Daniel while I was pregnant. I just cannot share myself that much. I also cannot fathom tandem nursing. I think beyond that, if DHH was my last baby, I would not be willing to nurse him this long. He is 31 months old, and he has been able to ask me for a drink for the last 10 months, and for the last four months, has been able to lug the milk jug from the fridge. He's never been successful pouring his own cup of milk, but I think that is coming soon.

I think that my philosophy of a mother to him has always been that I am his teacher, teaching him to be a resourceful and independent citizen. It makes sense then that I would reject nursing him when nutritionally he does not need it and emotionally he gets physical touch other ways.

Bethany Haid said...

However, my philosophy as a mom to Elsa has been much more of a nurture-er, not teacher. I had planned to nurse until one year, then wean to cow's milk gradually through month 14 or so. I don't mind feeding her longer because I love the cuddle time I have with her. I still see her as a much younger baby.

I will not nurse her while I am pregnant, I know that.

But if I do not get pregnant, I can see nursing through 18 months, maybe. I rarely feed her between the hours of 8 PM and 5 AM, so once or twice a day feeding her would be normal.

Thanks for posting about this. I have no other insight into extended nursing other than Mother's Nursing Companion book! Its really helpful to hear others out.

Anonymous said...

Not everyone enjoys nursing their children through kindergarten, as you seem to do. Nursing is a very personal choice and does not work for everyone. To teach your kids to "expect their spouses or themselves" to nurse such as you do is ridiculous. I hope your children are independent enough to make their own decisions about this, not a decision based on what you did or expect from them. Nursing a 28 month old? Yikes. And you wonder why your kids are very slow to potty train and you giggle that it leaves your husband a difficult time when you go out of the house. You may as well become a Duggar clone.

Giselle said...

I wish that comments could not be posted by anyone anonymous. Have the bells to put you name on comments for the love of god.

Carrie, I once again will tell you you are living in the wrong state. In CA, I had a parent teacher conference interuppted when the mom's 5 yr old ran in from the playground and popped her shirt up for a drink. And when I was pregnant, there were at least 3 moms who cornered me and tried to convince me that nursing until 4 or 5 was the only option. You would probably be applauded in Lowe's in So-cal. :)