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....
WHY DO I FEEL THE NEED TO HIDE AND DEFEND MYSELF????
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...)
"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
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