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October 18, 2012


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love, love this post...
the time I spent nursing my son was a time I treasured so, so much.

I remember discussing, when I was 22, the topic of extended nursing with my psych professor and class (my son was one at the time). The class reacted with horror. The professor apologized for their "immaturity". I slunk down in my chair a little lower, embarrassed about publicly airing such a controversial view. In my heart, though, I knew it was totally ok...mothering a nursing toddler wasn't gross or inappropriate. It was just beautiful.

Lovely. My second and last nursling is coming up to 4 as well, and there's no way on earth she'll be done by her birthday, though we've talked about it.

You've said everything so eloquently in a few paragraphs that I spend posts upon posts trying to express. I should just send my readers to this instead.

AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME!! Standing ovation. Preach it sister! And here I am, bragging to anyone who wants to hear that I lactated for five consecutive years and here you are, MY HERO!!! (heroine? nah... ;)

I just love to see you writing about this subject we're so passionate about again. I learned a lot from you and I'm constantly appalled by how people consider breastfeeding something "weird" and unnatural. (I personally think it's 100% unnatural to drink the milk of a cow, it was designed for calves, not for people, I know that most people disagree -- but they all agree to think it's strange to breastfeed for long).

I really liked that Time cover and the interview that the young woman gave later. I am constantly mentioning "lactating" and breastfeeding to my friends, hoping that me talking about it will help them (particularly the male friends) to see it as something normal too.

I think it's amazing that you've been lactating for so long, it just goes to show how amazing human biology is (and, as an aside to those of us who are believers, how we were "wonderfully and fearfully made" (forgive me for probably slightly misquoting)).

Yes, we should feel like WOMEN when nursing & lactating, not cows. Bravo!!

I guess I must be in a vanishingly small minority of women whose response to hearing about extended nursing is crazy jealous. I'm currently experience the sadness of yet another toddler weaning before turning two because I'm pregnant yet again. So far none of mine have nursed until two. None have tandem nursed, things always get too mutually uncomfortable and the nursing relationship ends before the new baby is born.

I'm also super jealous of women who get more than six months of infertility just by nursing a baby. I've always delivered the next baby well before my nursling turned two. Maybe if I got pregnant later, an older nursling would be able to manage the transition?

Bella weaned at about 17 months. I kept her nursing through my miscarriage, but not through the second pregnancy.

Sophie nursed the furthest into a pregnancy. She was 16 months old when she decided to stop nursing the week before Ben was born and was not interested in resuming thereafter-- and truth be told I wasn't all that excited about trying to nurse a toddler while recovering from a c-section.

Ben went on strike before I even realized I was pregnant with Anthony. Never could coax him back. He was 11 months old.

And now I'm six months pregnant and every time Anthony tries to nurse he cannot seem to keep from biting down. Hard. Every few seconds. We both get frustrated and he cries himself to sleep. I don't want him to wean, exactly. At least not in the abstract. However, when he's actually trying to nurse, all I can think of is: Stop biting me! That hurts! So I don't think it's going to last much longer. Probably kinder to him to not keep fighting the battle.

Anyway, I suppose I wanted to ask about how you manage to get toddlers through the biting stage that all of mine have gone through. I simply can't seem to figure out how to deal with the pain and I think they wean as much because I can't be patient any more as anything else. Maybe it's just because I've always been pregnant and therefore super sensitive and probably also dealing with diminished supply?

Sorry this is so long. I'm too tired to make it more concise.

Thank you!! I loved this post! I've been lactating for 11 years (pregnant again, expect to keep going for a while) and was just starting to how long my 3-year old was going to keep it up when the TIME-cover reaction pushed me into hiding the fact that he was still nursing. I admire your courage and find your attitude very inspiring!

Here is what I said about the TIME-cover: http://familyinlebanon.blogspot.com/2012/05/my-ten-year-old-was-finally-subjected.html Didn't have the courage to mention that I was still nursing my 3-year old. Coward me. Yay you!!

I think a lot of the "feeling like a cow" sentiment comes from the fact that even in a predominantly urban/suburban country, most Americans have a lot more exposure to cow-milking (through children's books, field trips etc) than they do to nursing. And breast pumps really *are* milking machines, so no wonder nursing moms say they feel like cows when they are pumping. I know I said it, even though I nursed both of mine for close to 2 years each. Nursing is great. Pumping is also great, in its way (frankly, I really liked being able to see what was going on!), but it is decidedly not as great as getting to be with your baby/toddler.

I am totally perplexed by those who find nursing to be perverted or weird or "unnatural." (Unnatural! I seriously have a friend who didn't even TRY to nurse one time and that was her stated reason.) Anyway. If only we could get some popular TV drama to feature a nursing mom who was frequently nursing and not saying much about it--to normalize it....I guess it would be tricky--it's a lot easier to feed an actor baby a fake bottle than to fake nurse it. You'd need a nursing actor who insisted that her new baby's need to nurse be written into the script! Just brainstorming here.....

Thank you so much for this post and for your writing about breastfeeding in general. Your writing has helped me so much, both with practical tips and with encouragement, during my initially really rough and then really lovely nursing relationship with my daughter.

We had to wean at 18 months, but I miss breastfeeding her so much.

I confess, though: Breastfeeding made me feel like a mother. Pumping... did make me feel like a dairy animal.

Oh, I LOVE giddy's suggestions of a show with a nursing mother to normalize it!!! Sigh... we can keep dreaming on because I don't see this day coming to this country, unfortunately.

I'm so sorry extended nursing didn't work for Melanie B. :( I totally understand why you'd be jealous of us. Well, at least you have had healthy (if not as long as you'd like) nursing relationships with all your children which is way more than most babies have with their moms.

Thank you for your comments, everyone! Giddy, I'd love to see your idea come to pass. Melanie, I do have a biting post in the archives -- if you click on the breastfeeding category, it will probably be on the second page of posts. Jen, I totally get being cautious about what put out there on the internet. Caution ≠ cowardice.

I so appreciate the encouragement to keep writing about breastfeeding!

Jamie, I love you :)

In my area breastfeeding and even extended nursing are quite normal. When the TIME article came out it was strange for me to think that extended nursing was controversial in some places. I think I've raised a few eyebrows casually nursing my toddlers when we travel :) I wish everywhere would be as accepting of nursing as my East Vancouver neighbourhood. Although I have heard some nasty stories of women being accosted for bottle-feeding. As much as I want women to feel comfortable nursing and for it to be normal I hope we can get there without any women feeling shamed for how she feeds her baby.

Back when I was a recent college grad and found your old blog your breastfeeding posts really stuck with me. They were some of my first introductions to the idea of extended breastfeeding and I am so happy I came across them. Thanks, Jamie!

Yes, I think there's a big difference between nursing and pumping, at least in terms of the affect. I pump because without it, I don't get to breastfeed (I work full time outside the home), but I detest every last second of it. But breastfeeding my babies, I love. My first self-weaned at 11 months and I'm really hoping that this baby will last longer.

I don't know how anybody could ever warm up to a pump. I can see pumping if you have to go back to work (and yes, I do feel that 4 weeks is VERY soon, and yes, VERY hard) but there is just no way that pumping can be as emotionally satisfying as nursing in the short term. When I hear the dairy cow remark, I feel the need to say something supportive.

Lots of thoughts.

As you know (I think), I never aspired to have children. The idea of someone wanting to have children has always puzzled me a little even though I am acutely aware that I am the abnormal one in this situation. It shouldn't be surprising that I also couldn't understand why someone would want to breastfeed. Having Tay in my life has changed my perspective on the first issue. Your blog (and having Tay) has helped me begin to change my feelings about breastfeeding. Obviously I didn't breastfeed him (he's my Bonus Son - for those of you who don't know me) but I understand that feeling of connectedness and love that I think would help me get over the "cow" idea and the loss-of-control of my body.

I have more thoughts but I'm at work now and can't organize them well. Not getting paid to organize them on this topic at any rate :)

"I don't like Daddy's breasts."

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