24 October 2007

in defense of noah~

First, for those of you who don't know me, I have a confession...

I am still nursing my two and a half year old. Yes, I am proud to say, that sweet little boy with the mischevious grin and sparkling, vibrant blue eyes noticeable from across a room, has never had a drop of formula pass his lips. He's only had regular cow milk a handful of times. I am feeding him God's perfect food. So tell me....


I wish people would leave me alone already! The "when are you going to cut him off?" questions, the second glances when they realize I'm nursing him and not the baby (of course I nurse Haven still), but what especially gets me is the outward "that's great, I'm supportive of you" but I can tell what they really think is "gross!"

Any doctor, nurse, medical professional, the AAP, the WHO, and the list goes on and on will tell you that b~e~st milk is best for babies and children, but in our over-s~x~ualized western culture, any mother nursing a child over the age of say, six months max, is viewed as weird, abnormal, or even worse as a deviant. Argghhh!

I made a conscious decision to continue nursing Noah. When I found out I was pregnant with Haven, Noah was 14 months old. I realized I needed to be proactive, and make an educated, conscious decision on whether to wean him or continue nursing. I did online research as well as talking to several women in my MOMYS group regarding the benefits vs difficulties, emotional and physical (for me being pregnant as well as the baby's health and Noah's). He is my first child that I have nursed past the age of twelve months. Do I regret it? NO! I do not. Was/is it difficult at times? Yes, it is sometimes a sacrifice. But all health benefits aside (and those are too numerous to even begin to talk about), when that little boy pats me on the shoulder, whispers "milk mommy, milk," and cuddles up with me, rubs my face or drives his little car around my neck, I am glad I made what I know was the best decision for him. I don't care what anyone else thinks. I am not weird, there is nothing wrong with me, and no, I do not get any physical pleasure from it. Sorry if that is too much information, but that is a common misconception. Nursing through a pregnancy was actually often painful. But it still was nutritionally and emotionally comforting for Noah, so I stuck with it as long as he wanted. I don't plan on intentionally weaning him at a certain age, the majority of children who nurse into toddlerhood give it up on their own.

I took Noah, as well as two of the other children, to the doctor today for well child visits. I didn't used to even do well child visits, but I began to for a few different reasons. I like to support Mercy Children's Clinic, there are obvious "toys made in china, how much lead paint has Ethan eaten off Superman's head" issues, and unfortunately in this currently "Christians are extremists" culture, I like to have my bases covered in case of any accusations made by a certain neighbor (long, bad, yucky story) or anyone else that our children are neglected and/or abused. I hate it that I even have to worry about that...but that's a whole other topic.

Anyway, they were asking me all of the general questions they like to know, and the nurse said "Do you give him whole or 2% milk?" Nursing wasn't even a choice! When I told her he still nurses, she kind of looked at me and hesitated. I can understand that she's probably not used to that as a common response, but I had hoped that maybe, at the doctor's office, I would get at least a "that's good for him" comment. It was like the nurse filling out the questionnaire, as well as the doctor, chose to ignore it completely. The doctor didn't even address it other than to ask me if he eats solid food! Of course, he's a two and a half year old boy, not an aberration of nature! What does the child not eat?

Has anyone bothered to notice that "hmmm...he doesn't seem to catch whatever is going around the general public, not to mention our house?" That's because he's getting a superfood from me, packed full of antibodies against whatever I, and by default he, has been exposed to?" So...I would think the doctor would say "good for you, that is the best defense against sickness as well as brain building food there is!" Moms will play Mozart for their kids, but not br~astfeed. They'll fork over all kinds of money for the newest and best educational classes, videos, toys, etc. but look with contempt on the one thing proven throughout all of time to be the best thing for their babies. And I am the one made to feel shamed...I won't even start on my frustration with the lack of support for breastfeeding over the age of 6 months yet the pushing of this new Gardasil vaccine! (This is not at all a slam on Mercy Children's Clinic, I think they are awesome. I left an openly Christian, father of 6 doctor's office that I thought was great in order to support MCC. This is a frustration with the medical industry in general.)

Did you know that there have been studies done on an hour to hour break down of a baby's nutrtional needs/deficiencies, and the compostion of a mother's milk changes, literally, from hour to hour to meet the needs of her baby! That is amazing!

It frustrates me that something that is so obviously God-made is viewed so weirdly by our society. We have had to pass laws allowing women to nurse their children in public. I am not an advocate of in your face nursing, I try and be quite discreet. But it saddens and frustrates me that while I will feed my baby in public when he is hungry (which is almost anytime I go out, and even then I feel like an odd ball and that I should be apologizing to everyone I might offend), I feel that I have to hide Noah when he starts saying "milk, mommy" and tell him no. I do nurse him at church as our church is a little more "granola" than the mainstream, but even there I feel the need to escape to a private place (unless I'm feeling particularly rebellious that day ;o). And I often field lots of questions. I don't mind the questions as I like to encourage moms, but it is sad to me that there are so many questions to be asked. I think sometimes about Hannah and Samuel in the Old Testament. If I were Hannah, I'd be nursing that little guy 24/7 as long as possible before I had to send him off to live at the Temple.

So, to everyone, yes, I am still nursing Noah because I want to. And I would appreciate a little more real support and not this snarky, outwardly supportive, inwardly thinking "weirdo" vibe that I feel from pretty much everyone I know. It is good for him, everyone knows it, so get past the everyone else weans their babies a way long time ago comments.

I know, this doesn't really sound like me, but I just needed to vent a little, and this is a pretty safe place to do it. So thanks for listening, and next time you see a mom nursing, give her a big smile :o)

I make milk....what's your superpower?

(I did want to add on here that in no way do I wish to hurt anyone who wants to nurse, but has difficulties with it. I realize there are valid concerns and problems with nursing. I also realize that deciding to nurse a child into toddlerhood is a personal decision and am in no way critical of weaning older babies. I got to a point where I knew my decision to continue nursing or not was just that..a conscious decision that would have benefits as well as consequences. In no way to I want to hurt anyone or impose my decision to nurse past the age of one year onto anyone :o)
I just needed to vent the lack of criticism and support I have had with the choice I made...)


Wendy said...

Wow. I had no idea that nursing past one was still so beneficial after one year... At least there's one of us out there that is no longer so ignorant. (Maybe I wouldn't have had to take two trips to the ER w/ Joe if I had nursed him longer?)

Rachel Wilson said...

Hey SUPERWOMAN! That little comment was great! I am PROUD of you for taking a stand. I wish i cud have nursed longer. The older two weaned themselves when they were ready but you know the deal with Alie-Grace. That situation itself carried so much guilt for me. Anyways, I am so proud of you!

Nancy said...

Yay for you! I am 3 1/2 months pregnant with baby 7 and my 13 month old stopped nursing abruptly about 12 days ago. It makes me sad. She is the only one who nursed longer than 3 months. I am thankful God gave me this time with her, though! Now she has a double ear infection. Never happened when she was nursing, mmmm.

Lori said...

This comment might be called, "In defense of ignorance." What struck me about this post is that you actually did research before choosing to continue nursing Noah. Most of the time, we do things without giving them any real thought--things that are so commonplace, so normal, so accepted that they don't require us to work through them first; however, you took the time to research nursing a toddler throughout a pregnancy and tandem nursing. YOU are the research that other people are exposed to. Your situation is, for many, the first exposure to tandem nursing and/or nursing a toddler. It takes time to develop feelings and opinions about new information. I'm sorry that you've had so much negative feedback. I can honestly say that when you first decided to continue nursing Noah, I thought, "Is that safe? Won't that cause her uterus to contract? I need to pray that she carries this baby to term." Then, when you shared about research you had done, I was much more at ease. Now, seeing your gorgeous little boys, healthy and thriving, I'm sold. :0) The next time I heard of someone tandem nursing, it wasn't so strange. When I recently saw a woman in Kalamata's nursing her little girl (Judah's age?), I smiled. I have no idea how long we'll nurse, but I can't imagine having stopped 4 months ago when Mira turned 6 months (well, except when there are little teethmarks on each side--ouch). Our pediatrician recommends nursing at least for the first year. I have no idea what his opinions are after that. I do know that raw milk has tremendous health benefits, and how much more tremendous must the milk be that is specifically designed for our little ones' bodies--hour by hour. That is amazing! And they get it the minute it's produced. Doubly amazing!

Shyla said...

I should probably do a little add on post :o)
Mostly my frustration has come just from people thinking it's gross or that he is just too old for it to be socially acceptable, and I feel that is due, largely in part, to our overly se~ualized culture. I welcome real questions from moms that are just purely curious, as well as questions from people genuinely wanting to know about it. It just makes me mad that our culture "tends" to make me feel like there is something wrong with me or him for wanting to nurse into toddlerhood.

On a side note, preterm contractions/labor can be a valid concern for some people. I just had to pay attention to my body and what was going on with it. It was interesting to me that this pregnancy I actually had less braxton hicks than any of my other pregnancies, plus Haven was my first baby to ever have been born late! I had concern expressed by many caring friends about whether it was okay to be nursing because of the increased risk of preterm labor, and when I was hospitalized with pneumonia at 33 weeks everyone was nervous I would have the baby too early, yet Haven decided to hang out in there 13 days past his due date! Kind of ironic, eh?

Anonymous said...

Just found your blog (from MOMYs digest). I, too, am nursing a toddler (32 months) and a baby (10 months). Nursing a toddler has been such a rewarding experience for both he and I. Thanks for such a powerful post on the subject - I have very similar frustrations some days!!


"How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about arithmetic, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness." ~GK Chesterton

2012 November

2012 November