Disclaimer: This post is about breastfeeding because that is what I am doing. This in no way reflects on those of you who choose/chose formula for your baby. I am a firm believer that breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone, so more power to ya. However, this is what I know and experience, so please bear with me if the breastfeeding discussion doesn’t apply to you. Thank you.
Long ago and far away, I was a yuppy working in an office. One day, a client came in with her five-year-old son to take care of some business. In the middle of said business, the son looked up at the client and announced, “Mommy, I want milk.”
Now, remember, I was a clueless young woman with no intention of ever having children. I thought he was asking for a cup of milk, so I offered to grab some from the convenience store next door. “That’s okay,” said the client. “He’s asking to nurse. Do you mind if I do?”
“Mommy, I waaaaaant MIIIIIIIIILK!” the child persisted, though now that I understood what was really going on, he may as well have been speaking King James English. Mother, prithee offer thy breast that I might not expire forthwith. Seriously, he seemed that mature.
I said of course I didn’t mind and the mother proceeded to whip out her left breast (quite deftly, after so many years of practice) and breastfeed the child right there in my office. Not knowing how to react, I went with my first instinct, which was to stare. And then my second instinct: to call Jake and tell him everything.
“Freaky,” he said over the phone. “If we ever have kids, we’ll never let it go that far, right?”
“We’re not having children, remember?” I quipped, and hung up the phone.
And now here we are, eight years later with a 22-pound, three-foot-long baby that I am breastfeeding four to five times per day.
Things have definitely changed since I saw the five-year-old manchild nurse in my office. I’m committed to breastfeeding Seabass for one year because
- breastmilk is the most perfect, complete food for him
- it’s free
- it’s easy (at least NOW it is – remember how hard it was before?)
- every medical professional and their mother says to do it for at least that long.
There’s another reason we’re sticking with breastfeeding: We both really like it. I never thought I’d say that. Seabass wakes up once in the middle of the night to breastfeed about two or three times per week. Ever since he started sleeping longer stretches, I have never once minded getting up at 3am to feed him. There is something so fulfilling, peaceful, and beautiful about a mother satisfying her child’s hunger in the quiet hours of the early morning, and I’m honored to serve Seabass that way.
Whoa. Did I really just SAY that?!?
Anyway, even though I’m definitely enjoying breastfeeding at 6 1/2 months, I’ve been feeding Seabass solids irregularly since he hit four months of age. I hadn’t planned on starting so early, but Dr. Awesome suggested that introducing rice cereal at four months might calm Seabass down a little. I don’t know that it did, but he enjoys the process, and we love watching him attack the spoon with reckless abandon.
The real adventure with solid foods isn’t so much at the mouth end of things, let me tell ya. Since we started fruits, vegetables, and the occasional grain, this kid’s butt has been working overtime to gross us out. My favorite poops are after he’s had quinoa grains. They come out looking exactly like they did going in. (Which reminds me of a story. When my brother Dusty was a baby, I distinctly remember my mom opening his diaper one day to discover an intact rubber band. Now he is a father of two kids of his own. How time flies.)
I’ve heard horror stories of women who encountered crazy amounts of criticism from older generation folks who thought breastfeeding past a couple months was weird or unnecessary or unhealthy. Thankfully, I have only received a very little bit of mild concern on this front, usually because someone was worried about my mental health and independence. (Seabass won’t take a bottle, so we’re pretty much joined at the hip, er, boob.)
But what if Seabass and I decide to nurse for another few years? What would people say then? At a pre-birth breastfeeding class, the lactation educator said that many babies across the world nurse until their seventh birthday. SEVEN YEARS OLD? That’s the year I started piano lessons. I’m sorry: If Seabass can play the Can-Can Polka on the piano and he’s still nursing, I authorize you to confront me on it.
I have a dear friend who was committed to nursing her baby until he turned one year, but even now at fifteen months, they’re still going strong. “I only nurse him once when he wakes up and once when he goes down at night,” she says. “I don’t know how I’m still producing milk for such a small bit of nursing, but we’ll keep going until I dry up or he decides he doesn’t want it anymore.”
I don’t know if I can be that selfless. Much as I enjoy nursing my baby, I’m very much looking forward to being able to leave him with someone for longer than an hour and a half. But who knows? Maybe I’ll be too whistful for Seabass’ babyhood to stop at one year. It’s entirely possible.
Enough outta me. What do you think? When did/will you stop breastfeeding and why?