Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Extended Breastfeeding

As I was typing the title of this post, I almost wanted to just title it Breastfeeding, without the "Extended" because the length of time that a mother chooses to breast feed should not be measured. Whether it's 1 day, 3 months, or 7 years, it's just breast feeding and perfectly normal. I sound so confident and empowered right? Well, I wasn't and have struggled with the idea that Eleanor may honestly be 3 or 4 years old before she ever even begins to show signs of weaning. I believe in science and nature and trusting your instinct, but I've recently allowed my purest and most trusted maternal instinct to be questioned because of what other people will think or say. I've reached out to wonderful group of mothers who have allowed me to once again feel confident about my decision to continue to nurse my daughter for as long as we both choose to do so. But it's frustrating knowing that I lacked the confidence.

Eleanor is two years old now. When she was born I was so afraid that she wouldn't be able to breast feed that I avoided giving her a bottle or a pacifier, completely oblivious to the fact that bottle refusal was even a thing. Lo and behold, once I finally tried to reluctantly introduce a bottle, she refused it. Maybe she sensed my initial reluctance. Who knows! But everyone who knows the struggle we went through will tell you that she NEVER liked a bottle. We tried a gambit of strategies including having my mother in law come over for a couple of hours five days a week to try to give Eleanor a bottle while I left the house, but NOPE, nothing worked. So, she strictly nursed on demand until she started solids. Every now and then, once she got the hang of a sippy cup, she would drink a few ounces of breast milk from a cup, but more often than not if she wasn't nursing she wasn't getting breast milk. If you're familiar with my little blog here, than you know that we also bed share. Yep, Ellie, Jesse, Eleanor, Lilly, Baxter, and sometimes Joe. It's crowded but it works for us.

 So basically, this is my life..

7:30am: I wake up to Eleanor attached to one of my breasts.
7:45am: She wakes up happy as a clam.
7:45-8:30pm: have breakfast, get showered and dressed (this gets tricky if Eleanor is cranky because she wants to nurse for comfort to which I happily oblige), head to daycare
3:30pm: Pick Eleanor up from daycare and head home
4:00pm: We get home and Eleanor immediately wants to nurse for comfort and to reconnect after her day
4-8pm: hang out, play, exercise, nurse, supper, nurse, play, watch tv, nurse
8:30pm: bath time then nurse to sleep.

If we're out in public and she gets tired, cranky, feels like we need to reconnect then she asks to nurse. If we're together all day, she nurses even more often just out of boredom or comfort. So basically, I love being home so that I don't have to worry about about being exposed, because my breasts are constantly being beckoned to do their duty, and that is to nourish and comfort by tiny human! Why oh why do I let this realization escape me sometimes?!! I know! Because for so many other people, it's not the norm. In our society and in this fast-paced world, it's hard to slow down and make the time for it. It's not easy to be needed so much when you're being pulled in a million directions. Women today are amazing! Well, women always have been amazing, but today women travel for work, run multi-billion dollar businesses, etc. etc. etc. and a person can only do so much. So that's why I FULLY understand that breastfeeding beyond a certain point or at all is just not feasible for everyone. But I have to stop letting that make ME  feel uncomfortable about choosing to breastfeed Eleanor for as long as we both want to. (at this point, she'll be looking at wedding dresses attached to my boobs) kidding.. i hope! 😂

I recently felt that I just needed some reassurance. One of the questions that was hard for me to ask the other moms that I went to for support was "Well, what do your husbands think?" I don't like to pry but I am always so curious. I always wonder how much of an impact spousal support makes. Jesse has been so very supportive and I mean really, it's hard to argue with me because my latin determination is pretty hard to argue with. haha But so often I feel the need to know how other people successfully stave off weaning until their child says they're ready. So far, the one or two amazing mamas that have breastfed the longest have mentioned that their husbands find it totally normal and are super supportive of them charging forward for as long as they feel necessary. That shit totally rocks my world and makes me so proud of those husbands, and of my own. Support and feeling like what you're doing is right is crucial to having a healthy experience. If you don't have it, find it! Amazing support is everywhere and you deserve it.

Reading over this, it's hard for me to swallow the fact that I let my confidence take a hit. I'm a very strong willed and determined woman. Just ask anyone. I hate feeling like I let myself down. The feeling of failure or not meeting my own expectations doesn't sit will with me. So, even though I always knew in my heart that I wasn't going to let other people's perceptions of what I was doing affect me, I couldn't help but feel like I was judged or really that maybe, just maybe, I was doing something wrong! Yikes! However, I am doing a great job, and anyone else who is choosing to nourish their child's body and emotional health by breastfeeding even if they are 4 years old .. you should know that I think you're amazing!

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