With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, pink is everywhere. In addition to thinking about my husband’s aunt who lost the battle to breast cancer, or my own aunt who is winning and continues to fight, this month of pink raises my own awareness about my “girls.” They are blessedly healthy and I’m actually quite proud of them. Not for their size, shape, cleavage level, etc.: I’m proud because they’ve nourished three babies.
I love breastfeeding. It was an uphill battle with my firstborn son, but I persevered and made it. My second, a daughter, was a natural. My third also struggled at the beginning, but we had it down within a month. All along – and before I even had children – I firmly believed in one of Miranda Hobbe’s infamous lines from Sex and the City: “”If they’re old enough to ask for it, they’re too old to have it!” It just didn’t seem right to me to be nursing a little person who could also use a fork and a spoon or had more teeth than my grandmother. I stopped nursing my first and second at 11 months each, proud of nearly achieving my personal goal of 12 months. It was a natural wean; neither of them wanted to continue and I was ready to stop.
But something has changed. Here I am now with an almost-18-month-old, and we’re still nursing. And he can ask for it.
I’m not advocating to nurse, or how long to nurse, or to become the next nursing mother on the cover of Time magazine. I believe whether it’s breast or bottle, as long as there’s a bond of love and support and both baby/child and mother are happy, that’s all that matters. However, as I’ve charged forward in this unfamiliar territory of nursing a toddler, it’s surprised me to receive odd glances, comments, and outright teasing. In response to those looks and jests, I’m publicly sharing my top 10 reasons for breaking the “Miranda” and nursing a toddler who’s old enough to ask for it:
- He’s my last baby. I had to beg and bribe my husband for number three. I know he’s the last baby for us. Doing something that is traditionally for “babies” seems to have extended that baby timeframe just a bit more. And when I compare him to his older siblings, he really still is a baby. I will never nurse again, so I’m making this last.
- I love it. Just like when his older siblings were itty bitty, I love looking at his content face. How he stares at me. How he becomes so tired he drifts to sleep. The sound of him swallowing. The smell of his head and holding his fingers. Just because he’s bigger doesn’t mean those things go away, and I savor those moments that I know will be gone all too soon.
- It gives us uninterrupted one-on-one time. With two older kiddos, I’m pulled in a gazillion directions, and my little guy is more often than not along for the ride to do whatever the older kids are doing. This is the one thing that’s really and truly his.
- I’m still his favorite. Daddy has recently taken front and center in our little guy’s life. Having Daddy come home from work is the equivalent of hearing fans roar at a Lady Gaga concert. I know it’s not a competition, but there is that part of me that loves knowing at the end of the day, I’m the only one our little guy wants.
- I get quiet alone time. Sometimes I don’t even listen to the radio on the drive to work because I so desperately need some quiet. Nursing gives me that time, too. The kids have been told countless times they can only open the door if someone is bleeding, near death, or has died…so nursing time is pretty quiet in our house and not something I’m ready to give up.
- I get to read. Usually the only time I get to read is before I pass out at night. While nursing, I read. Although I’m with my little guy, I actually get some personal time in, too. I’m not quite willing to go back to reading a book every few months because I simply don’t have time.
- It’s environmentally friendly. As the resident “green” person for Reno Moms Blog, I can’t help but add that nursing is very eco-friendly. I didn’t have to buy formula during the infant years. Now, I don’t have to buy juice boxes or plastic water bottles to add more trash to the landfills. I always have a healthy, environmentally friendly source of hydration and nutrition when we’re out and about.
- It’s healthy. The longer I nurse, the more benefits for my girls. Breastfeeding has been shown to lower the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, as well as osteoporosis. My continued nursing is hopefully helping me in the long run. And breast milk helps my little guy out, too. With antibodies that help him fight off viruses and bacteria, my dude needs all the help he can get in fighting off bugs at the daycare. Plus, with his increasing pickiness at meal time, I know he’s at least getting a super-charged nutrition-packed snack a couple of times a day.
- Weight loss, shmeight loss. Here’s a little secret for the pregnant or new-to-nursing moms out there: while breastfeeding burns calories and can help you lose weight, some women actually retain weight while breastfeeding. Apparently I fall into the latter category. So those stubborn 10 remaining pounds that refuse to vacate the premises have an excuse to hang around until I’m done nursing. After I’m done, it’s full-on WAR, but until then, I refuse to worry about them.
- It’s a great excuse. Bedtime nursing happens to occur about the same time we’re cleaning up from dinner. Or wrangling the other kids to bathe and get ready for bed. It’s the weirdest thing, but oftentimes, by the time I’m done nursing, the kitchen has been cleaned and the older two are ready for bed. How about that?! I think my (incredibly amazing!) husband is on to me, but until he says anything, I’m going to enjoy this while it lasts.
So those are my reasons for breaking the Miranda. How about you? Have any of you nursed toddlers or are you currently nursing a toddler? If so, what were/are your favorite reasons to keep going?