Wait, what?? Did I just say I was still
I've been asked that very question a few times recently. Those who asked weren't grossed out or offended or anything like that (at least I don't think they were). Instead they seemed genuinely interested, if a bit puzzled. The follow up question is usually, "When are you planning on stopping?" You can find the answers below but first, if you read this blog regularly then you know that first I must ramble on about stuff.
Asking questions is more than ok with me. We live in a culture that arbitrarily judges us for just about every decision we make. Oh and of course there's the sexualization of boobs, too. It's not surprising to me that many people are shocked by seeing a nursing toddler and I don't think people are bad if they find it different. I equate it to my shock and awe of macrobiotic diets. I am genuinely intrigued by how people do it. It seems like such work
. As I sit here lazily munching on my sea salt and dill Triscuits, a macro fairy is crying. But to each their own, right? I try to approach questions like the ones above with an understanding that most people are just curious. And that's cool.
I'm not sure that made sense to anyone but me but... moving on.
I've been having a lot of moments
lately. You know the ones where your eyes get all wet and you start thinking about all the amazing moments you've already lived and how you never want to forget them? I keep staring at Plum every time she nurses and remembering all the years I have been nursing my babies and how it won't be long before she begins to wind down now that her vampire teeth are starting to actually cut.
I've been crying the love tears, you guys. There is something completely insane about watching your last baby grow into an almost two year old. And I have been beating back my dread that her second birthday is only three months away. Because I think, for me, that will ring the final round bell on this chapter of babyhood in our lives. Three months. That's all we have left. I look at her and I still see my little baby. But I cannot fight time. So when I find myself with moments of quiet, I have been thinking myself into a tizzy remembering the scents and soft giggles of nursing my babies when they were tiny. The sweet gurgle sounds of a tiny babe gulping down a satisfying dinner. The milky grin
they flash in the middle of it as if to say "Oh mama, this is delicious!" And then just as I'm near a rush of tears I cannot stop, I am jolted back into this
moment because there is a toe up my nose and a giggling toddler that thinks she is just hysterical for putting it there.
And, of course, she is.
So last night as Plum nursed through the pain of cutting of one of her canines (one down three to go!), I started to giggle. Because instead of being sad about her babyhood slipping away, I thought about all the things about nursing her as a toddler that are awesome. Like these things...
1. She's always on the move. Toddlers are active little people and this can make for some very, um, interesting nursing positions. This graphic? It's not wrong...
2. She is generous. A few nights a week, Plum thinks that George
could use a little mama milk. Especially when they are drifting off to sleep. So she will hold him over the available boob and share her night-night milk. It's pretty much the sweetest thing ever.
3. She is always falling down or running into something because she has the coordination of a newborn baby elephant. Her injuries on display with bumps to the head and bruises to the knees. Her heart breaks every single time
she falls. Which is approximately 14 times a day. And do you know what takes the awful away? My boobs.
4. She is funny. Plum thinks it is super fun to dress up or read book while nursing. It's not always pretty since she is attached to my body while trying to flip the pages of a book. I often get smacked in the face with a turning page and she thinks that's just awful. "Oh no!", she will say after popping off to see if I'm ok. She'll rub my chin to make it feel better, latch back on and turn a new page. Rinse. Repeat.
Little bunny foo foo messing with the garland needed a snack
5. She is grateful. I'm not sure there is anything sweeter than when Plum thanks me, hops down and goes about her business. "Tanks ah Muk", she says.
6. She has things to do. Remember when you were nursing your newborn and they wanted to eat 23 of the 24 hours in a day? Or when each meal took forever? Yeah, Plum has no kind of time for that noise. She is in and out inside of a few minutes so she can get back to her job of destroying our Christmas tree. She has priorities, man. I can respect that.
Pretty much the saddest Christmas tree you've ever seen
7. And finally, she is not ready to wean. So we go at her pace. It's a very relaxed pace, too. Gone are the days when she had to nurse for all
of her nutriton. I won't rush her because there's no reason to. She will
wean someday. That's a sure thing among the sea of unsure things about parenting. Someday she will stop. Someday I will never nurse any of my children again.
It has been wonderful nursing my babes. But now that she is big enough, I no longer need to call the shots. And as that thought brings tears to my eyes, I will just leave it at that.
Well, I'm off to do some research on how best to help crying children when you can no longer put a boob in their mouth. Because while Mr. Pants is weaned he isn't into mama cuddling the pain the away (No, um...that doesn't kill me inside. Why do you ask?) and I have a feeling that Plum won't either. My feeling is based on the fact that she goes from zero to enraged in no time at all. And there's also her tendency to dramatically moan and fall on purpose only to become incensed when you try to assist her (I can do it MYSELF!!). So yeah, I'm kind of hoping she decides to nurse for a good while longer so that I can get a handle on this before I lose the best tool in my tool box.
What is your favorite thing about nursing a toddler? Will you miss it?
There's been some talk in the news recently about nursing babies in public. This is a subject near and dear to my heart, of coarse. As you know, my name is Mama Pants and I am a breastfeeding mama. So my ears perk up when people are chatting about it. I was angry when I heard about the mama who was harrassed at the Target store in Texas. Angry. Like super angry. Yes the incident itself made me mad, but it was the commenting on it that really twisted my undies. On Facebook, on blogs and in the comments of the news reports about the nurse in that was held nationwide at Target stores on December 28th. It would seem that whenever nursing babies in public comes up in conversation, certain talking points inevitably surface. So I'd like to respond to some of the things that I hear whenever people start to talk out of their butts about feeding babies.
"I don't mind breastfeeding in public at all! As long as you're discreet about it, don't flop your boobs out and wear a cover because it makes me uncomfortable"
To this I say, thank you very much for your rules about my how to feed my baby so that you are ok with it. Really? I have been nursing my babies in public for quite awhile now and I can honestly tell you that I have never, not even a little bit, "flopped my boobs out". I have enormous boobs too. Seriously.They. Are. Huge. I have also never seen anyone else do that. Who are these woman that flop their boobs out? Nursing moms think about this stuff. We dress with the knowledge that we need to feed our babies with our bodies. We don't want to show our breasts to the world (especially you), I promise you that. We want to feed our hungry babies. That's really all. There's just nothing more too it than that. And a blanket? For the sake of argument, I just tried to eat my chili with a blanket on my head. It was depressing and annoying. And hot.The truth is that some babies are totes cool with covers and some mamas are more comfortable too. But the two that were born to me? They believe they are being killed if I try to cover their face with a blanket. I don't want them to feel that way. Because I care about their feelings. So I wear clothes that I can nurse in with minimal (read: virtually no) exposure. I'm honestly way more worried about showing you my belly than you are about seeing my boobs.
"There are children around! What if they see?"
I have a beautiful story about this. I was in a discount grocery store a few months ago and Ms. Plum became ravenous. She can't help it. She is a tiny human being with a much smaller stomach than me so she eats smaller meals more often than your average adult. Anyhoo, this particular store had absolutely nowhere to go. Nowhere. No benches, no places to sit. So I pulled up the cart to a back corner and sat down on my jacket and a baby blanket and started to feed her. A grandpa and his grandson came walking by. The boy was maybe five? Well the little boy wanted to see Ms. Plum. Grandpa took his hand and said, "Not right now, buddy. That baby's having some lunch". The boy looked to the grandpa with a look of total confusion and as they walked away I heard the grandpa explaining to the boy that mommies have milk in their breasts and the milk is the food for their babies. And the little boy was all, "huh, ok. Can I get a candy bar?" So there you have it. That's how you do it. Easy peasy.
"Sure, breastfeeding is natural. So is peeing and having sex but I don't do those things in public. Some things should stay private"
I fear that if someone ever says this to my face, I could become violent. And I am not a violent person. I am a hippie and I love everybody. But damn does this one get me HOT! I promise you that if you look through any commentary on nursing in public, you will find this statement and variations of it. It makes me want to barf. Drawing comparisons of pissing and screwing to feeding a child is just offensive. Period. And I want to pee on anyone who says it. But peeing in public is illegal.
"It's ok if it's a baby but that kid is too old. They are like a year old or something!"
All I have to say about this is please follow this link. And stop being ridiculous.
"Breastfeeding is a bonding experience between a mother and baby. It shouldn't be for all to see"
While I agree that nursing a baby is absolutely a bonding experience between mother and baby, rule number one for any baby, no matter how you feed them is to um...feed them. If I don't feed my baby, people will come and rightfully take them away from me because I am failing at rule number one. Which, to be clear, is to feed the baby. As a mom, when my baby is hungry I have this crazy urge to take away their suffering by feeding them. A nursing mom feeds her baby with her boobs. And when I'm at Target, I am not looking to bond. I'm looking to get trash bags and cruise the clearance racks. So if baby gets hungry, she eats and we get back to the business of getting those tasty organic fruit strips so we can head home and snuggle up and bond there.
"She must like the attention"
Oh sweet baby lawd! Get over yourself. If I wanted attention, I'd wander around the tampon aisle wearing a bikini. I really just can not wrap my brain around anyone even caring about me nursing my baby. I mean, unless I sit inside your cart to do it, it's just not your business and it isn't disrupting your day at all. So as a good faith gesture, I will promise to not climb into your cart and nurse if you promise to just not care. Deal? Because the attention grabbing behaviors are coming from the workers and customers with rude or harassing things to say. Or the two twenty somethings that walked by me and Ms. Plum on a park bench and squealed, "Ewwwwww, Groooooossss!!!". And yes, I almost threw a rock at their butts. But I am a bigger person than that. Most of the time. If everyone could just decide to not make it their business by being awful a-holes, there would be no need for nurse ins.
"She could just go sit in the bathroom"
I do my best to avoid public restrooms because I am terrified of being that close to other peoples pee splash. So the idea that I would feed my kid a meal sitting on a public toilet makes me want to die. And I don't think I'm alone in that. I would put money down that the vast majority of people would be hard pressed to take their lunch break enveloped by the wafts of other people's poo. Am I wrong? I really don't think I'm wrong.
But all of this said, I have had more positive public nursing experiences than negative. But I think I might have an air about me that suggests I am not to be effed with about this. That's not to say I am a hard ass, because I am most definitely not. But for some reason, for this reason I seem to be. So in the hippie spirit of ending on the positive, do you have a nursing in public experience to share? I'll start, I was at the fair in September and I was nursing Ms. Plum at a big picnic table. Right next to an older woman I had never met. After a few minutes, she says to me "I just think it's nuts that you are feeding that baby right here" and she giggled. I said, "When she gets hungry there's no distracting her from her mission" and the lady said, "I never had kids of my own, but I always thought that must be such a nice thing. Breastfeeding your baby. Just a nice thing". "It is", I said. And we went on to talk about the fair and some other random stuff. All the while, Ms. Plum was nom nom noming away.
Any good stories? Feel free to share them in the comments. Like what you've read here? Come find me on Facebook and Twitter!
Image source, http://forums.catholic.com
*ALERT* If the title didn't tip you off, I will be talking about my boobs and their job as feeder to my children. Feel free to not want to read about that if it's not your cup of tea (with milk). I was reading about how August was National Breastfeeding Month and it got me thinking about how I came to nurse my babes. I've been nursing now for 2 years and 3 months, one or both of my kids. In the interest of full disclosure I had a short break while pregnant with Miss Plum from December to March 9th where no one nursed from me. I like to think of that as my "I'm so pregnant" period.
Sitting on the exam table 5 months pregnant with Mr. Pants, the doc asked me. "Have you thought about how you'd like to feed the baby?". "I'm going to BREASTFEED!" I told her triumphantly. I was very
proud of myself. "Would you like to take a breastfeeding class?" she asked. "Nah, I'll figure it out" I replied. And that was the end of that conversation. Breastfeeding was sure to be easy peasy. Certainly there'd be a light switch that went on in that magical moment my baby was born.
So I was a dummy. Should have taken that class. Or just read a book
. Or even just gave it some actual thought. Because I had no idea what I was doing. Mr. Pants didn't even latch til he was eleven days old, but I remember the moment that he did with amazing clarity. It was 2 am-ish and Daddy headed downstairs to make a bottle of pumped milk. When he returned, baby boy was eating and I was...wait for it...did you guess? Crying. Oh yeah, crying silent buckets. He was eating! From ME! It was so effing beautiful. I'm pretty sure a rainbow appeared over my head. It was that sweet. I remember soaking in that moment and snuggling my son because for the first time in almost 2 weeks I felt hopeful that I could feed my baby the way that I had wanted to. It took us a few months to get good at it. All that pumping in the early days made my milk produce at the rate of a mom feeding quints and let's just say it was like trying to cap a fire hose at times. I remember telling one of my girlfriends that it was like a lactation horror film. I mean, my boobs were off the hook!
The first 3 months were hard. I had expected a chorus of angels to sing everytime I nursed my precious lamb but instead I'd spray him in the eye with milk and he'd get SO pissed. But it got better. Over time. And after awhile we settled into a groove. It took time and practice. And the angel chorus came, eventually. As long as I didn't try and nurse him in public
we were good. He was happy and we had finally gotten the hang of it. Looking back and knowing what I know now about Mr. Pants I'm not sure what I would have done without the ability to nurse him. We might have spent his entire first year floating in bathtubs as that was the only other way to calm him when he would panic. I learned how to nurse a sensory seeking
baby with low registration and vesitbular sensitivity. I had no idea at the time but I think my mama heart knew what he needed even if my brain did not yet know. How else can I explain that I thought it was totally normal for him to want to nurse without touching me at all about half the time. We'd start out side laying on the bed and he'd latch and start his slow slow retreat backwards until he was perpendicular to me. Once he was at a safe and assured distance, he'd sigh, relax and get to eating. I tried to find an image to share but when I Googled "perpendicular side laying nursing baby" nothing came up that looked anything like it. I think if he could have, he'd have nursed suspended from the ceiling like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible. Silly baby. The other half of the time he'd let me snuggle him. I used to love that.
When Miss Plum arrived she had clearly taken an in utero class on how to nurse. I was prepared to work hard at it. But she already knew what she was doing. There were times when she growled on approach. She was a beast! And she wanted closeness. If she could have, she would have velcroed her belly to mine. She settles in for a meal like she's sitting down to some home cooking after a long day at the office. She sighs and smiles and snuggles. The two experiences couldn't have been more different. But the outcome was the same. I love to nurse my babies.
It came as quite a shock to me that there were people that had negative opinions about me nursing my baby. When people asked me how long I was going to let Mr. Pants nurse, I'd say, "Until he decides he is done" and then add "probably high school". Most people knew I was kidding but some were put off that I would nurse him past one year. I actually had someone tell me that I HAD to wean him at one or he'd "like it too much". I don't think too highly of that person. The idea that nursing my baby or toddler (GASP!) made anyone uncomfortable was just silly to me. But it did and I won't ever understand that. I find it weird. Mama's have been nursing their babes since the dawn of time. All mammals do. I have never seen someone walk by a litter of nursing kittens and lament that it was gross. If anything, the chubby kitten that is knocking it's siblings out of the way in a charge to the teet gets cheered on. And no one I know has ever put up a curtain for their dog as she nurses her pups to shield the world from such a display of indecency. Or tell the offending mother dog to "do that somewhere else". We actually watch and think it's sweet. And normal. So why not human babies?
When I see women out in public feeding their kids, I like to smile at them as if to say, "Go you! Feed that baby!". Nursing cover or no nursing cover. Because all I see are hungry babies getting their bellies filled up while being snuggled.That's a beautiful thing, man. But that mama is going to get some uncomfortable stares or even the occasional rude comment and that really sucks. I don't know. I guess my point is, don't be a hater. We are all mothering our babies. We just are. Breastfeeding moms, bottle feeding moms. We're just mothering our babies. And isn't that what we are supposed to do? Yes. Yes it is.
So please, the next time you see a mama nursing her babe, give her a smile. She might need one.
Having her mid morning snack