Still Nursing

“Are you still nursing?”

I get that question more frequently now. The gentle emphasis on still. The awkward pause while I remind myself to answer without a dozen defensive explanations.

My son turned 18-months-old yesterday. He’s getting lanky. His baby rolls are evening out into strange little boy limbs. He talks. He yanks on my shirt and carefully says, “Boo-bahs.”

So I’m nursing a toddler.

I’m extended breastfeeding.

To me, it’s just a simple part of my routine. I feed him in bed in the morning, and he nurses before he goes to sleep in the evenings. We don’t have to worry about nursing out of the house only because he’s dropped the middle feedings. (Though I would nurse him to soothe him or if we were out somewhere very hot and I didn’t have something else to hydrate him with.)

Built-in hydration! My anatomy is kind of awesome.

***

Oh, but I sigh. Because the local news came on during Glee last night and the blonde anchorwoman said, “In the lobby of a local elementary school, a mom is asked to nurse in a private room but refuses. WHO IS RIGHT AND WHO IS WRONG?”

I don’t want to know what the general public has to say. I don’t want to see my lifestyle turned into a controversy on the nightly news. I don’t want to know what the angry teachers at that school had to say about breastfeeding being inappropriate for school-aged children to be exposed to.

I don’t want to hear that the school felt that this woman was pushing her agenda on others.

I really, really don’t want to hear that nursing a toddler is unnatural. That extended breastfeeding must be for the mom to get off. That you should pump if you’re nursing past a year. That it’s gross, that it’s just crazy!!!! That it’s wrong.

I don’t want to know that those could be my neighbors saying that.

Those could be my friends saying that.

***

What I’m doing is biological and natural.  I’ve never nursed in public to show off, to convince someone to try nursing, or because I think it’s beautiful.

I want to say that I don’t give a shit when a man says that seeing a woman nursing offends him or ruins the sexuality of breasts to him.  I want to say that I don’t give a shit when another mother says that nursing is fine and great as long as it’s done in private or somewhere discrete like a car or bathroom.  I want to say that I don’t care when I read that talking about breasteeding or being proud of it is a slap in the face to mothers who could not breastfeed or chose not to breastfeed.

But all these things hurt.  It sucks to read them.  It makes me angry and sad and prickly.  Especially when I feel a sense of guilt rising up.  Did I gross someone out?  Did I offend someone?  Should I have gone to my car, should I have stayed at home?

So you’ll have to excuse me when I speak up about all this.  I need my anger. I need my pride and my sense of accomplishment. I need my seriously if you weren’t trying really, really hard to get a glimpse of my nipple you’d have no idea that I was nursing a baby at all.

I’ve busted my ass for 18 months.  I don’t breastfeed because it’s a big party in my bra.  I don’t breastfeed to make a political statement. I simply made a parenting choice, one of many I’ve made and will make in my life.  It just happens to be one that the general public feels overly entitled to judge or set limitations on.

***

I never expected to nurse this long, but here I am. Maybe we’ll stop tomorrow. Maybe we’ll stop in two weeks. Maybe we’ll stop in two months.

I’m in no rush.

I’m not ashamed.

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Comments

  1. This is a great post…except I'm kinda jealous about the 2x a day thing. In the last month my 20 month old has suddenly decided he wants to nurse CONSTANTLY. Plus he learned the word “nurse” recently. So he chases after me going “nurse, nursesss….NURSESSS….” It is like Golem. My first self-weaned at 18 months and was down to once or twice a day for the last three months of that.

  2. grace134 says:

    Dude. Seriously? 18 months old is NOT extended breastfeeding. That's just regular breastfeeding. If you're nursing your 4 year old? Then I might start to look at you funny.

    Of course, I also live in hippiesville where it's not all that rare to SEE someone nursing their 4-year-old.

  3. i know a fair share of people who have gone past three years with their kid. to each their own, i say. you do what you do, baby girl. keep doing it.

  4. Well said, Maria. I decided early on to respond with humor (otherwise I'd get all feisty and turn it into an argument). When people (read = my sister) asks how long I'm planning on nursing, when I'll wean, etc. I usually just respond that I'm hoping he goes to a community college so he'll be close enough to come home between classes. :P

  5. Sandra Meyer says:

    I nevver had kids, but find it really strange that people have any problems with women nursing their babies-anywhere, really. It is just part of life. Moms just happen to have the food young babies need and they are not going to wait until it is the “correct” time or place to get that milk. They need to leave mothers alone to take care of their children.

  6. MonkeyPoopSoup says:

    I nurse a 3 year old and this article was so refreshing. Well said!

  7. Good for you! I'm still nursing my 3 year old and once in awhile she even gets away with nursing in public!

  8. Good for you! I'm still nursing my 3 year old and sometimes she even gets away with nursing in public!

  9. so glad you posted this. we went 22 months and probably would have gone longer if i hadn't been huge and uncomfortable with baby #2.

    no one should be made to feel like she should hide out when feeding her kid. those who don't like it? let THEM avert their eyes or eat THEIR lunch in the public restroom!

    my 2 cents on it: http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/200

  10. mommymae says:

    i just nursed my final baby for the very last time on saturday morning. we went for 21.5 months. the boy stopped at 8 months & the twins nursed to 15 months. it felt right to stop.

    i got questions (mainly from my sister who never could breastfeed,) but just kept at it because it was what worked for us.

    good on ya, mama!

    now, i wish i could get her to wake up past 5:45…

  11. Whatever, whenever, for howlongever..ok I made that last word up. I have one BUT..the logic that it's harder to ween than to not..and that with all of the fighting over diapers, etc you don't need to fight over this? Do it when every you think, but doing it because it's easier than not?? At some point you will have to ween and it will always be harder than not to take anything away from a kid….
    Good luck

  12. Well, Now there's an opinion….

  13. melissan says:

    I discovered the term “full-term breastfeeding” the other day, and now use that. Extended breastfeeding implies that “normal breastfeeding” is only a few months long, when biologically, that is silly. Go mom for “full-term” breastfeeding when the child decides to self-wean! awesome!

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  2. [...] eyebrow raised, if you were still nursing? Then you’ll love this piece by blogger Maria from Mommy Melee, who is still nursing and still is not [...]

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