The Trials, Tribulations and Joys of Extended Breastfeeding

Roo turned 14 months old yesterday. Unbelievable how time flies, and how far we have come in our breastfeeding journey.
From the second he came out of the womb, he latched and nursed like a champ.

baby

It has been such a different experience from my first try with Red. I became privy to a world of relentless hospital lactation consultants grabbing my cracked, bleeding nipples and shoving his little mouth into my double D’s, the life-saving, but oh-so-silicone, realm of nipple shields, and finally the success of nursing for 10 solid months, but not without supplementing with super expensive (and because I am picky, mail-order organic) formula – all while still pumping at work, 3 times a day.
Fast forward five years. Roo and I are now entering the realm of “extended breastfeeding.” I have what those in the BabyCenter breastfeeding communities refer to as “golden boobies” or something like that… While I am proud of how far we have come, I am wading in uncharted water, or perhaps more appropriately, uncharted milk territory. My questions are plentiful, and I am not feeling confident, or brave enough to believe everything I read about how my body works, miraculous temple that it is. I am beyond ready to stop pumping at work, but I want to continue our wake-up session and bedtime session, not to mention that on weekends, my “goldies” are the only thing that he wants at nap time. They are a comfort and I enjoy the quiet times when we sit in the rocking chair in his peaceful, sunny bedroom while he begins chugging away, and then slowly, his breathing starts to mimic the repetitious back and forth as he fades into slumber.

naptime
I respect everyone’s choices and decisions and would never pass judgment on any mama who is giving her children the best that she can. I would never look down on a woman who does not breastfeed, so I found it rather interesting the reactions I have gotten when people learn that I am still breastfeeding my toddler. In the beginning, as soon as I came back to work from maternity leave, the first question I was asked when people learned I was pumping was, “how long do you think you’ll nurse for?” When I responded with “at least a year, “ I got some glassy eyes stares (as in, really???), some outspoken questions of my sanity (part-jokingly, but also, partly not), and some half-hearted nods as in, “oh you’re so cute for trying, but you’ll never make it.” If there is one personality trait that I can absolutely attest to, it’s that if you tell me I can’t do something, I won’t like something, I will not be successful at something, I will go to the ends of the earth to OVERacheive at it, no matter what. And that has always been my way of thinking with breastfeeding. Did it hurt five years ago when I started out? YES! Was it a struggle? YES! Breastfeeding was and is a huge commitment, but it is one that I have devoted myself to for my own peace of mind and for the wellness of my babies.
The reading I have done on-line in the baby forums, which voices experiences from all of the moms who have been there, say that my body will adjust. My supply will be fine. I’ll still be able to continue this amazing nursing relationship with my son who still wants to snuggle up next to me in bed in the early morning hours when I am not yet ready to open my eyes. I am testing the knowledge and am down to one pumping session at work a day. I am SO ready to stop lugging the heavy black bag to work, slung over my shoulder on a daily, along with all of the other stuff I carry, heaving the weight through the parking lot at work, looking and feeling like a bag lady. I am proud of myself for keeping up with the routine for so long and I am hopeful that everything I am beginning to prepare to believe about my body is true. If I can count on anything, it is the fact that it hasn’t let me down yet, and I don’t plan to give up on it now – I’m going to “milk” it for all its worth.

bedtime

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2 thoughts on “The Trials, Tribulations and Joys of Extended Breastfeeding

  1. kateybrunson

    Though I’m just 7 months into breast feeding my first munchkin, I can relate to much of what you described. I get those same shocked faces when I say I plan to nurse my daughter for a year. It baffles me how something so natural and that provides the most complete and healthful nutrition on the planet can be frowned upon. I loved hearing your perspective and getting a glimpse at what’s to come.

    Reply

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