Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Going Strong Again, Breastfeeding a Toddler

My toddler is sound asleep next to me on the couch, sleeping peacefully after a painful episode of midnight gassiness. These night-wakings are all too familiar to my husband and I, as our baby started having terrible gas pains off and on after he was born on Earth.
His night-wakings are sporadic, spread out over months. He wakes up screaming and writhing in pain, and we still have no idea what causes it! We've tried eliminating whatever he ate the day before, whatever I ate the day before, and then try all sorts of new combinations the following week. The night-wakings have been so terribly traumatic for all of us, that I am willing to even cut out dairy if I have to, (which is a very difficult thing for me to do as a lover of all things yoghurt and milk.) However, I've never felt dairy was the issue. I think the poor kid just gets gas sometimes, and hates it! When an episode happens, my husband and I will usually carry him up out of bed, give him some Infant Gas Drops, walk him around the house (let the screaming calm down), and then I will nurse him back to sleep.
My 4 yr old took this picture of said toddler, but I thought it was fitting here:
Tonight as I picked him up out of bed and walked him around the house, I was groggy and sleepy, and in no mood for this. However, after he calmed down a bit, we sat on the couch and relaxed together. He cuddled up to me with his little, fuzzy head, snuggled into my chest, and smiled up at his mommy. I looked down at my big, 23 month old boy and felt nothing but love and patience for him. My grogginess faded away. I tried hard not to see him as a screaming invader, trying to rob me of sleep, but instead a human being, in need of love and affection at 12am. "He needs me," I reminded myself, and snuggled him a little closer.

He pointed to my chest and said,"Mamas" which is his way of telling me he wants to nurse. I pulled up my blouse and let him snuggle into his favorite curl on my lap. "He's so big now," I thought. At twenty five pounds, and 32 inches tall, he's not the little baby that once fit into the tiny nooks of my arms. He's now sprawled out across my entire lap, feet dangling off the edge of the couch. I re-position him, and gently remind him to hold still while he eats. He smiles up at me again, now with a silly grin on his face. When he's in a really silly mood he pats my face with his foot while he nurses, and looks up at me with big eyes, just to see my reaction. It always makes me giggle, and cherish him even more. He looks so happy, and so comfortable in this moment.

As Jonah will be turning two this month, I am excited to see what happens this next year, in terms of nursing an older toddler. Our two older boys both weaned at 2 years old, just weeks before their new, baby brothers were born. Nursing during pregnancy was such an emotionally and physically-difficult road for me to take each time I was pregnant, that I am eager to nurse Jonah freely and without worries this time. I know with all my heart that he is not ready to wean yet, and neither am I. Nursing a toddler is such a special experience, and one I am not going to give up until we are absolutely ready. It's so wonderful to be able to put Jonah at the breast when he's tired, grumpy, hurt, or sick, and know that he's not only receiving antibodies and nutrition, but receiving emotional security and validation for his needs. He is a wonderful little boy. Extending our nursing relationship is my way of saying,"Take your sweet time little Jonah, Mama has all the time and milk in the world for my baby boy."

Last year on his one year old birthday I said we were "going strong with nursing, and here's to another year!

Stopping for a milkies break at the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo here in Hilo.
If you yourself are thinking about weaning your baby, and are unsure about it, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, American Academy of Family Physicians, and essentially every pediatric health organization in the world recommends a minimum 24 months of human milk for human babies (with at least the first six months being exclusive breastmilk). If your unsure about weaning, perhaps it's because you and your baby/toddler/child are just not ready! There's absolutely nothing wrong with nursing longer than you think!

Sometimes I forget that people don't know this information (for whatever reasons,) and I get caught up in my own, little world of nursing a toddler. The other day a Mama I don't know very well stopped over at our house for a visit. I plunked down next to her and started nursing my naked toddler, then realized a moment later that he was doing some gymnastics at the breast, while tugging at his little-boy-parts, while poking me in the face. I'm sure she went home with something interesting and new to talk about! But honestly, I am happy to expose anyone to the joys, challenges, humors, and benefits of extended nursing!

This week at the Salt Lake City Breastfeeding Cafe Blog, they're doing a blog carnival, with daily posts about breastfeeding for the last two weeks in July. Today's post is "Wordless Wednesday" and I have four pictures on there. See if you can find us! (Warning to boob-weary-folks-There's lots of boobage)
Here's a few resources I love:
A Natural Age of Weaning ~ Katherine Dettwyler

Natural Weaning Age ~ Linda Palmer

Mothering Your Nursing Toddler ~ Norma Jane Bumgarner

How Weaning Happens ~ Diane Bengson

Baby-led Weaning: Helping Your Baby To Love Good Food ~ Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett

Adventures in Tandem Nursing: Breastfeeding During Pregnancy and Beyond ~ Hilary Flower

What are the benefits of nursing my toddler?-La Leche League International

The Joy of Nursing Toddlers Photo Gallery-Peaceful Parenting

Happy Nursing!

1 comment:

Zen Mama said...

Reed weaned himself at 19 months. Owen went to 28 months. I was fortunate, however, to never have to nurse while pregnant! (Pregnant two weeks after weaning? Yes, but that's not the same thing.)