Wednesday, September 12, 2012

There's Onwy Two Fings I Yike

This is what my daughter says to me now at every bedtime:

"There's only two things I like" (or see the cuter version of this above in the title).

She holds up two stubby little fingers, and says,

"Mama's milk. And suckie."

When I ask her if those are the only two things she likes in the whole world, she thinks for a little while and then says,

"There's onwy five fings I yike. Mama's milk, suckie, water, flashlights and stuffed animals."

Apparently, there are quite a few things a 3 year-old needs to fall asleep!

And yes, you heard right. My 3 year-old continues to breastfeed AND still has a pacifier. Move over Jamie Grumet. I'm the next in line to be on the cover of Time!! Imagine it - my daughter standing on a chair, breastfeeding, with my 9 month pregnant belly hanging out for all to see. AND, the floor could be littered with pacifiers. They might hire a famous dentist to tell the world about how my child's teeth will be forever damaged by my "mom enough" parenting techniques.

Here's the thing....I really don't feel extreme. And I think any other Mom who is doing extended breastfeeding would tell you the same thing. When I first started breastfeeding, I really, really hated it. In fact, I hated it so much that I was only going to continue utnil 6 months and then quit (I almost quit several times along the way, but had a lot of supportive people backing me up). All of a sudden though, when I got to 6 months of age, breastfeeding became easy. I actually liked it, and not in some weird, perverse kind of way that some men (and some women) seem to imagine. I liked it because it was convenient, it helped me to bond with my daughter (who had screamed and cried for the first 6 months of her life), and it was the only thing that calmed her down when she was experiencing symptoms of reflux.

Somehow time flew by, and we got to 2 years of age. And I thought, wow, I'm really unique. Hardly anyone I know breastfeeds their 2 year old. And because I like being unique and "different," I was quite proud of this fact. Now, I'm just in a whole new category of unique. Even the majority of my parenting friends who identify with an attachment parenting philosophy are no longer breastfeeding at 3 years (to be clear, this has to do with the fact that many children wean themselves before age three - not that AP parents are somehow failing if they don't do extended breastfeeding. And of course, you can still be an AP parent and give up breastfeeding at some point because of various reasons!!)

It's not like I got here on purpose. I didn't give birth, and immediately exclaim to the world "I shall breastfeed my daughter until she is a preschooler!!" In fact, I'm embarrassed to admit that I thought people who breastfed toddlers and preschoolers were really, really weird (this was due to my lack of experience and understanding of my child and my body....clearly I'm much more informed and MUCH less inclined to judge any parenting decision now)

But what is important to know about extended breastfeeding is that it really, really works for some families. And you just can't judge something that works, can you? Those of you who know my child know that she is a fully functioning, independent and sunny little girl. She is not strangely attached to me, and I wouldn't consider myself even close to a helicopter parent. I'm just a regular 'ol mama, doing something that helps my daughter get to sleep at night. I will cherish these memories forever.

I thought I would share a few other notes about our experience, just in case you were curious and had some questions:

  • I do not breastfeed my daughter in public. I feel uncomfortable doing it, not because I think that extended breastfeeding is wrong, but because I know others do, and I want to avoid the judgement.
  • She breastfeeds about two times per day - once first thing in the morning, and once right before bed. If she asks for it at other times, it's because she's tired (i.e. just woke up from a nap) or because she's getting sick
  • Yes, it did hurt quite a bit throughout my pregnancy. The worst was from about 3-6 months, when my milk basically dried up. We actually thought she had weaned herself (she started to ask for it every 3-4 days), but suddenly my milk showed up again, and she was back to daily breastfeeding.
  • I do plan on tandem nursing. I believe that it will help my daughter adjust to the new baby, and will probably also be a fantastic tool to use to calm the jealous monster. Tandem nursing doesn't necessarily mean I will have two kids hanging off my boobs - it just means that if my daughter wants "mama's milk" she will be able to get some! She's a little too busy to be sitting in my lap for extended periods of time.
  • When people tell me she doesn't "need" to breastfeed, I feel inclined to ask them whether they "need" to drink that glass of milk with dinner. Perhaps it's time you weaned yourself from the cow's teet. Don't try to pretend the middle man (or machine) who milks the cow makes it any different.
  • I will be honest in saying that husband is not 100% supportive of breastfeeding daughter. He's about 90% supportive - I think part of him wishes I were slightly more "normal" sometimes :) But given that it has absolutely no impact on our relationship, he really doesn't care very much.
  • When will I stop? When will my daughter stop? I don't know - truly, I don't. I feel strongly that breastfeeding is a relationship - I'm not into child-led weaning, because I would certainly encourage her to stop if it was bothering me. But I also wouldn't just quit on her and refuse to do it if I felt that she wasn't ready. I think we will take things month-by-month. I have a feeling that once she knows she has access to "mama's milk" whenever she needs it after the baby is born, she will probably identify it more with what the baby does
Oh, and as for the pacifiers? We know that those DO need to go - we're waiting until the new baby adjustment period is over, and will encourage her to give them up at some point in the new year. Our dentist friends will be proud :)


  1. Fantastic, as you know G weaned himself at about 2 1/2 or so, like you I thought 9 months that's all...but...even after he weaned he asked for it a few times actually one time was after you fed A at my place so I let him try :-) all I say is keep doing what works for you. YOU ARE AWESOME

    1. aww, thanks Shelly. You are awesome too :) Aylen misses you so much!!


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