I Can’t Believe I’m Telling You This

I Can’t Believe I’m Telling You This

My baby turns two today.

And because he’s two–and officially not a baby any longer–I’m going to be brave and tell you something.  Usually when I tell people this I swear them to secrecy, because I don’t want the word to get out.  (What will people think?) But I’m learning that keeping secrets about how we really live doesn’t do anybody any good, so I’ll just say it:

I’m still breastfeeding.

I’m a pretty crunchy, natural-living, attachment-parenting kind of girl, but I never thought I would be breastfeeding a two-year old.  Ever.  And I’ll be honest: it’s mostly because of all the negative things people say about extended breastfeeding–and the women who practice it. 

9 years ago, right after we brought our firstborn home from the hospital, my friend came to visit.  She walked in, saw I was nursing and gushed, “It’s so great that you’re breastfeeding!  It’s so good for them! I nursed my baby until the day he said his first word, and then we were done–it’s just gross to nurse a baby who’s old enough to talk.  I’m not that kind of mom!”  She laughed, nodding, sure that I felt the same about those moms.

But I didn’t.  I was just wading into motherhood; I had no idea how other people parented their kids.  I was trying to find a groove with my newborn and take things a day at a time.  I didn’t yet know other moms might find my parenting choices objectionable–or even “gross.”  But my friend’s snide remark about those moms–you know, the ones who’ve decided to do things differently than you–was just the first of many, many more to follow.

My confidence as a mom took a hit that day.  I didn’t (often) let my fear of what people would think influence my parenting decisions, but it definitely influenced the way I talked to other moms.  I didn’t want to defend myself; I didn’t want to be judged, or criticized, so I was very mindful of which parenting topics I discussed, and with whom.

And that’s a shame.

This isn’t a post about breastfeeding.

As a woman, I need need other women to walk beside me.  As a mom, I need empathy from other momsBut we can’t help each other if we’re keeping things secret that ought to be shared.

I started speaking up about my miscarriage when I realized I had friends who’d grieved their own miscarriages alone because they thought they didn’t know anyone who’d experienced that loss.  I started speaking openly about my son’s cancer when I found out the story of his diagnosis led to the early diagnosis of another child.

And now, if you ask me how long I nursed my babies, I won’t swear you to secrecy any longer.  I’ll tell you I’m still nursing my baby; he just turned 2.  I’ve never breastfed any of my kids this long, but there’s been no reason to wean–no medications, no weekends away, no nursing strikes.  There have been lots of good reasons to continue: he could use the extra calories, and he could use the one-on-one time with his mama, too.  I don’t expect it to last much longer, but right now, it’s working for our family.

I’m not keeping secrets any more.  I’ll be brave and share my story with others.  There’s just too much at stake not to.

And when you tell me your story, you’ll get no criticism from me.  Only empathy, sister–because we need each other, and we need each other’s stories.

When have you been encouraged by another woman’s story?

photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography

109 comments | Comment

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109 comments

  1. Three cheers for no secrets!!! I’ve been tiptoeing into the waters of being more open. Oddly enough, I find it harder to be open with some close friends and family than I do a stranger. (Probably cause I fear my mother-in-law would have a heart attack if she found out I’m still nursing my 30-month-old! Teeheehee!)

    • Anne says:

      I understand what you mean about that! I won’t tell your mother-in-law if you don’t tell mine 🙂 (Wait–I just said keeping secrets was bad, right? I’m going to have to think about making an exception in this case!)

  2. Jenny says:

    Love it. Hate hate hate the frenemy comments mamas make so casually to each other (and I’m totally guilty of this too) – but honestly, motherhood is heavy enough without the extra burden laid on by the comparison game.

  3. I’m still nursing my 21 month old! Although we’re working on weaning now, because she’s getting annoyingly specific about what side she wants to nurse on and things like that. I figure anyone old enough to be that opinionated is old enough to drink cow’s milk. 🙂 But now that I’m only nursing her 1 time a day, I really enjoy the evening cuddliness!

  4. Way to go, Anne! I’m proud of you. Personally, I think breastfeeding for as long as it possibly works for mama and child is fantastic. So, good for you!

    I think it’s great when people open up about struggles they’ve been through to encourage others. Not everything, mind you– there are a some things that no one really needs to know about. However, if someone’s purpose in sharing their hard experiences is to empathize with, encourage, and build up others who might be experiencing something similar–well, I think that’s one of the wonderful things about being part of the body of Christ. 🙂

    • Anne says:

      Thanks, Jaimie. And well said about speaking up to encourage others (but that there are definitely times when we should be keeping our mouths shut!)

  5. Mary says:

    I’m still nursing my 27 month old. I never though I’d be nursing this long. We’re getting outside pressure to stop but neither of us is ready to wean.

    It’s difficult for me to be open about things. I’ve very much learned the lesson that the less I say the more peace and harmony there is in my relationships. While there may be peace and harmony, there certainly is a depth that is missing. I admire your bravery.

    • Anne says:

      It’s so hard for me to be open too. I’m glad you’re doing what you think is best for you and your baby despite the pressure.

      And I think you really nailed it with that last comment. I’m a conflict-avoider by nature and I really relate to your description there.

  6. Dianna says:

    Is it gauche to say, “oh, hell yeah!”? Of course, this is coming from a formerly white bread turned granola girl. 😉

    I nursed my first daughter until 10 weeks, when I went back to work. I had no idea I could work and breastfeed. (this was 17 years ago) I nursed Rachel up to 20 months …. I was pregnant with twins, and wasn’t gaining any weight, and would have contractions with nursing.

    With the boys, I nursed them until they were 2 1/2 years old. They would probably still be nursing now, if I hadn’t cut them off. 😉

    I wouldn’t trade those weeks/months/years for anything. I break it down into sections, like, “OK, I’m going to make it to 3 months, then set another goal.” For me, I think anything after 6 months is easy.

    I was lucky in our families ….. My own mother nursed her younger babies, even to the point of manual pumping while at work, so she thought it was great. In Brett’s family, his niece made my path easy, since she nursed her oldest son well past 3 years.

    I think with anything ‘slightly off the mainstream path’, it’s so much easier if you have support … Natural childbirth, eating real food, homeschooling, cloth diapering, extended breastfeeding, etc.
    My husband was behind me 100%, and I’ll be Mr Darcy is as well.

    And, before I write a novel ..did you know our state has one f the worst breastfeeding rates in the nation? We’re just doing our part to change that!

    • Anne says:

      Go ahead and say it!

      I didn’t know our rates here in Kentucky were terrible, although I can’t say I’m surprised. *Sigh*

      And yes, I appreciate support especially when I’m diverging from the status quo (and I”m remembering how that differs among different communities).

      Props to you for nursing twins till they were 2 1/2. I’m really surprised by the comments here–I thought I’d be a loner in two-year-old nursing territory!

  7. I just put up a post today among similar lines, except it’s the confession that I’m not the granola/crunchy mom I THOUGHT I would be (and so admire) but I actually let my baby cry-it-out for 20-30 minutes or so on occasion. And it’s a major confession for me because I used to JUDGE SO HARSHLY those that did similar things with their children, and now I cannot judge any more.

    Also, I just started giving my 7-month-old formula right before bed time, because I have had major milk supply issues and she wasn’t getting enough at night. But it took so much humbling of my proud spirit to do this, and admit it, and admit that I was wrong.

    I never want to judge another mom’s decisions, and I do not want to be judged. We’re all in this together, and every family/child is different.

    • Anne says:

      Rachel, I relate to this. I used to be soooo against any kind of crying it out, but letting my baby cry in his crib for a few nights last year was what it took to get both of us sleeping again after a long sleepless season. Talk about eating your words!

      I’m so glad that you’re doing what it takes to keep you and your daughter healthy and happy–even if that doesn’t look exactly like you thought it would for your family.

      Thanks so much for sharing about your own experiences. I think talking about what real-life parenting looks like is so helpful to other parents.

  8. Julie K. says:

    I nursed my sweet boy until he was 3 and 1/2. It was right for him and I and I can say that I never had any tell me to my face that they thought I was doing it for too long. That was 9 years ago and I still look back as one of the things I did absolutely right in the sea of things I did so very wrong lol! but admittedly, from the age of two, we only nursed at bedtime and in the morning and sometimes for naps and in the end I barely had any milk left he was nursing so infrequently, for us, it just stopped naturally 🙂 Good Luck!!!!!

  9. I too have have received words of encouragement & then advice / opinion that was just plain discouraging as a parent. There isn’t any one ‘right’ way to parent, and the discouraging comments tend to come from people who want to justify what they’re doing.

    It’s a shame that certain issues- breastfeeding, sleep, etc.- have become polarizing issues for some people when they’re not really that big of a deal, in the grand scheme of life.

    • Anne says:

      Yes, it is such a shame that these issues have become so polarizing. We lose so much when we blow things out of proportion (and as one who has blown a whole lot of things out of proportion, I feel the loss).

      I read a great quote Bertrand Russell quote along these lines just yesterday: “People are zealous for a cause when they are not quite positive it is true.”

  10. Good for you Anne! It’s all about individuals not what most people think. We co-slept for a long time. Got him in his crib/toddler bed for maybe a year and well, my 2-1/2 yro has been back co-sleeping for about 7 months. I was just too tired to fight it with working full-time and my husband not well. I’m thinking about transitioning him back soon though as I’m not sleeping great with his foot in my face…or back….and then you add the cat to the mix. It’s like I’m a human futon. I figure since we’ve had success with parting ways with the binky, sleeping is next.

  11. Anne, this is why I love reading your blog. You tell all. JUST KIDDING!! You are SO not the type to tell all, so this was a big step!!
    SO–In my case, I HID the fact that I HATED nursing, because I felt as though women would think I was a bad mother. It was the most miserable six months of my life (5X) 😉
    I felt as though a “good” mother would want to do something as natural as nursing…but I didn’t. Sigh.
    On a more positive note, my kids haven’t turned out all that bad. 🙂
    Love ya,
    Sarah

    • Anne says:

      Thanks, Sarah 🙂 I’m definitely one to beat myself up thinking about how a “good” mother would do things differently–and I’m trying hard to get past it!

      THANK YOU for sharing your perspective as a mom who hated nursing!! I think we’d ALL be better off it we were honest about things like that with other women and other moms, and I’m so glad to hear you say you hated it! (And you know what I mean by that, right? 🙂 )

      Let’s make it safe to disagree about stuff like this!

    • Bobbiann says:

      While I didn’t actually hate nursing my first two, I certainly didn’t love it, and only nursed them 6 or 7 months. That was 16 and 12 years ago, and since then I’ve spent a lot more time with nursing mothers. I think the exposure to breastfeeding has made a huge difference for me. I had a third baby 11 months ago, I’m still nursing, and I love it.

  12. Alice says:

    I think it’s wonderful!!! He won’t appreciate until he’s a grown up what a lucky little boy he was:-)

  13. Amber says:

    I nursed both of my kids until they were a year old. I honestly commend anyone who does what is right for their family, their situation, and is able to disregard all of the opinions and comments. It has taken a long time, but I am now able to shrug and say “ok” when someone comments with disapproval or tries to tell me how I should do things. I am very open to information, but when it isn’t something I feel is right for our situation, I politely change the subject.

    I admire you so much for being forthcoming with your breastfeeding choices. What a great example you are for all women!

    • Anne says:

      Amber, I love your attitude about dealing with differing opinions and comments. I’m trying to shrug and say “okay” to the negative comments, too–I’ve come a long way, but I still need the encouragement!

  14. deborah says:

    Happy Birthday to your baby! Time flies…my daughter is 12 today (Jan 26) and it seems impossible.

    Kudos to you for being open AND for doing what works for you. No matter what choices we make there will be somebody, somewhere who doesn’t agree. And human nature is to feel threatened by someone who does something differently than I do and on the flip side to feel affirmed when someone agrees with me. Too often I trust my “feelings” instead of my God!

    • Anne says:

      Yes, I wish we didn’t feel threatened when people disagree.

      We have birthday buddies in our houses! How fun!

  15. sonja lange says:

    I never nursed that long, I don’t know why, we all just felt ready before then…but I think it is awesome that you and your little one are happy still nursing. I think all the judgement we shoot out at each other like ray guns in a sci-fi movie are all just reflections of our own insecurities. I stay home so I envy a working mom with her nice clothes and makeup and “warm” lunch while down playing her angst over daycare and dinner…people look at moms who nurse longer and wonder if they should have, do others think they should have. While there are right and wrong ways to parent, the grey area in the middle is more vast than the Grand Canyon and there is room for all of us in there if we just quit trying to knife each other in the back and instead pat each other on the back – for a job well done.

    So, “Job well done, Anne, job well done.”

  16. Heatherly says:

    My friend Suzannah wrote an amazing post about the “Mommy Wars.”

    http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/2011/10/in-mommy-wars-im-conscientious-objector.html

    If I had ever made a comment about another parent’s mothering style BEFORE I read this post last fall, I have not {knowingly} made one since. In a world, desperate for authentic connection, it always shocks me to realize how afraid we all are to share certain parts of our lives out of fear.

    It took me a long time to tell some people in my life I was going to home school because I knew that they would have negative things to say.

    {I planned on nursing my son for “at least a year,” until the day he bit me. and I bled. A lot. And there may or may not have been a piece of me missing. {No I’m not exaggerating.} So there you go. }

    Thank you for helping open up the conversation!

    • Anne says:

      I read Suzannah’s post months ago and had forgotten! But there is good stuff there. “The Mommy Wars cannot be won”–exactly.

  17. Katie says:

    I just had my first child three months ago. I am so thankful that my family is so supportive of my decisions to breastfeed ect. My husband’s family is too and his SIL is nursing right now too. Having a support group helps so much. I try not to let what other people say (or criticize) affect me too much, it just really bothers me when what they say is so ignorant. Everyone keeps asking me how long I am going to nurse and I have just learned to say that I will nurse until Millie is done.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  18. Heather says:

    I’m on the more crunchy side and would be involved in crunchy mothering circles if I hadn’t moved away, and here’s my confession – I don’t necessarily enjoy the things that crunchy moms are “supposed” to. All those natural/attachment books and my midwives (I immensely enjoyed my natural unmedicated birth, btw) wax eloquent about the joys of nursing, co-sleeping, etc. It was fine for the newborn stage, but by the time he was a few months old we realized that we all slept better if he was in his own bed, IN HIS OWN ROOM. And it’s awesome.

    And nursing? Honestly, I don’t enjoy it, and I never have. It’s a neutral activity for me, something that just has to be done, like cleaning. I neither love nor hate cleaning while I’m doing it, but I do like to see the fruits of my effort when I’m done. I’m proud of myself for growing such a big, strong boy, but each individual nursing session is just “meh.”

    But some moms get soooo judgmental over things like this. Not to say that I don’t have my moments either, of course. 🙂 But I’m working on it.

    • Anne says:

      I can relate to this! I think we get into rough shape when we’re told how we’re “supposed” to feel about certain things–it makes it so hard to own up when we just don’t feel that way!

      (And yes, after eating my giant serving of crow and letting my 12month old cry it out in his room last year, and moving the crib out of my room, so we were both sleeping through the night again, I thought it was awesome too! But I NEVER thought I would ever do that!)

  19. Ugh. I hate breastfeeding. I mean—not the actual thing of breastfeeding, but thinking about it for myself. My first experience with it was so, so bad. My son couldn’t do it, no matter what we (or my doula, or the lactation consultants) tried. His latch was fine, but there was something else in the mechanics that he wasn’t getting and that we couldn’t teach him. He lost a ton of weight. It was way scary. At each feeding, I’d try to feed him, then have to supplement with a bottle, then pump to try to save up some milk for him. It was exhausting, so I decided to switch to formula.

    And my best friend told me I wasn’t trying hard enough and that my son would grow up to be fat and lazy and sick. I cried for a week.

    She was wrong. He’s extraordinarily brilliant and slim and active and is NEVER sick.

    So, you know what? Do whatever works for you! Do what feels right for your kid and your family, and let your mama intuition lead you! It’s your family, and you’re responsible for its health and welfare—not the Peanut Gallery. 🙂

    • Anne says:

      Oh, that makes me so sad that your friend said that to you. There are some mountains that are worth dying on, but breast v bottle is NOT one of them.

      Love your last line. Well said.

    • Whit says:

      Your comment was wonderful. Your experience was so like my SIL who could not nurse her 4th. By the time my nephew was four-weeks-old, he had lost 3 lbs. The lactation lady wanted my SIL to nurse her newborn every 2 hrs. and pump eight times a day while still taking care of her other 3 children. My SIL was in tears when she decided to quit until a friend told her that it wasn’t about breastfeeding or about bottle feeding that it was about FEEDING the baby.

  20. I plan to breastfeed for as long as my daughter wants (but I’ve already gotten some nasty comments about that from my family who expected me to switch to formula when she’s about 4 months!). It is wonderful to hear other women’s experiences! So glad you shared!

    I also really rely on support from other bloggers about Natural Family Planning. My family really pushed for my husband and I to use birth control and were also not very supportive when we decided to start trying for a baby before my husband graduated with his PhD (they do love their granddaughter though). It’s nice so have a support system of women who have similar beliefs and lifestyles, even if it isn’t in “real life” but over the internet.

  21. Anne says:

    That’s great, Mandi!

    And I just cannot believe how much support I’ve found in the internet community. I never thought internet relationships were “real”–until I started forming them myself! Glad you’ve found support out there on the interwebs 🙂

  22. Missy June says:

    My secrets were within an abusive marriage. As I gained the courage to let that go and be real about the circumstances – not in detail but to be honest about our situation – I was floored by the support. I’m doing my best to be authentic now and demonstrate for my children that secrets are toxic and only hurt the keepers in the long run.

    Kudos to all the breast-feeding mamas and doing what’s best for your families. I’m about as un-crunchy as one can be, but I did breastfeed three little ones. That last guy breastfed through my working full-time, a husband who left and many major life crisis. I’m convinced it helped us both bond during a very challenging season.

  23. 'Becca says:

    I breastfed until 2 years 4 months. My son gradually nursed less often, and then one day he pointed to his mouth and said sadly, “Wrong shape.” For a week or so he found nursing difficult, and then he stopped asking. I’m really glad we were able to wean so gently and he was able to nurse right up until the time when (apparently) his body didn’t need it anymore.

    My mom, aunts, and cousin all breastfed and were very supportive, but they all were at-home moms, whereas I went back to work part-time when my son was 12 weeks old. I was very inspired by and got a lot of great practical advice from two friends, each of whom nursed 3 children past at least 1 year old while working full-time; one of them is a family practice physician and one a drug rehab counselor. They made it sound totally feasible (which it is!) and talked up its value for bonding with your baby during the time you are together (it’s awesome!) and the health benefits for both mom and baby. I really appreciated their support and have done my best to pass it along to new moms!

    • Anne says:

      What a great story about gentle weaning!

      It’s wonderful that you had such great role models for breastfeeding AND working, and that you can now encourage other moms who’re wanting to walk that road.

  24. DFrazzled says:

    Look at all these amazing comments. I got a big lesson in this at a recent baby shower. I was asking the typical questions regarding the mom-to-be, and her choices are so *polar* opposite of mine I had to politely excuse myself for fear I would go into some monster-mommy-counselor-mode. I can see it now:

    “Haven’t you researched this? Well I have. Don’t you know it’s better for your baby to . . . .?”

    No one needs these remarks, especially at her baby shower.

  25. Rene' Garavey says:

    I too breastfeed my son until he was almost 2. I have 2 older girls and they just did not want to nurse that long they had better things to do and I was much younger at that time. I basically nurse my kiddos as long as they want and why not good for them and good for you.

  26. Sometimes I feel WAY old in this blogging game. But with 6 children and almost 22 years of parenting under my belt it it gives me lovely perspective on many issues. When I got pregnant with my first almost 23 years ago I was the only nursing mother in the maternity wing.. they thought I was “Quaint”.. when I kept on nursing past his first year and then tandem nursed him and his new baby sister is a WEIRD.. when I was nursing them both a pregnant with the 3rd.. I was doing something DANGEROUS. By #3 birth the first one had weened and I moved on to nursing 2.. just a different 2!.. and on it goes….

    Along the way I found little support ( LLL was one place I did find support) and lots of stares and some rude comments, add to that the cloth diapers, sling-using , family bed and such… but in the end sharing who I was despite the comments or stares became more empowering and helped me stay true to who I was and how I wanted to raise my kids. Not easy for sure.. but well worth it!

    Maddie

    • Anne says:

      What an interesting perspective! Maddie, I’m very interested in hearing how you think attitudes towards breastfeeding have changed–or not–since you had your first baby and they thought you were “quaint.” (Which just cracks me up!)

  27. Laura says:

    Good for you Anne!
    I nursed all of my kids as well. The first one only 14 months but my last 3 didn’t finish until they were between 2 and 2and a half years old. By that time it was usually only in the morning and then before bed. I’m a big believer in letting them wean themselves. 🙂

    ((Hugs))
    Laura

    • Anne says:

      I love the idea of letting them wean themselves….but so far, it’s been mama-directed weaning at my house. Maybe things will be different with my 4th….We’ll see!

  28. I have ALWAYS wanted to nurse that long. Seriously. But, it never has happened. With my oldest, I was still nursing when I got pregnant with my second. I kept nursing, but holy cow, it hurt. Like, raw, bleeding, I’m crying this hurts so bad, hurt. So, after her first birthday, I stopped. With my second, I planned to keep nursing since we weren’t planning another pregnancy for a while. But, our five year anniversary came 6 weeks after her birthday, and my husband and I got a chance to go away. Alone. For a weekend. Needless to say, I weaned {weekend away with hubby totally trumped my extended nursing}.

    I’m nursing baby 3 now, and while I know we’ll make it to one year, I’m not setting my sights so high as to two, but secretly hope it lasts well into 2013.

    • Anne says:

      Yup, I understand those priorities! I’ll join you in hoping it works out for you guys to keep it up till 2013!

  29. You rock! I nursed my daughter for 27 months and am still nursing my 15 month old. I find that having supportive friends who believe in breastfeeding is very important. Thank you for sharing your encouraging story.

  30. As someone who has never been through this, I can very easily imagine the snide comments you have heard. And I must admit that I’ve had some thoughts go through my own head when in the presence of older children who nurse. But at least I can say that I’ve kept them to myself. 🙂 Good for you for sharing. It helps us all to be less judgy mcjudgersons.

  31. Annie Kate says:

    Yep, I have 5 kids and was pregnant and/or nursing for 14.5 years. You do the math.

    It’s good for the kids, it’s good for mom…and it’s good for other moms to see that long nursing harms neither mother nor child nor family.

    Moms have to learn that they’re not responsible to their acquaintances; they’re responsible to their family and to God. It’s a hard lesson to learn, and knowing that people choose different paths is good.

    As Nancy Wilson says, the only absolute is that the baby gets fed. How is no one else’s business. LOL

    Blessings,

    Annie Kate

    PS Thanks for this article; I need to be able to relax about our other parenting choices and mistakes…and about my kids’ choices and mistakes, while trusting God. Your article and the comments are an inspiration.

    Here’s a great book about learning to trust your own MomSense: http://anniekateshomeschoolreviews.com/2011/05/review-momsense-by-jean-blackmer/

  32. Julie Rousseau says:

    Anne, You hit the nail on the head. We need to hear each other stories and support each other for who we are as parents. Being the director of Harvey Browne Parents’ Day Out, I see many different parenting styles, different teaching styles, and very unique and special children. There is no manuel given to us when are children are born! Sometimes I wish there was but that is not the way God designed us. We are all unique for a reason. There are many parenting books and many people advice. I read and listen and then try to apply or experiment with what works for my family and my job as a director. We have to step back before we judge or criticize and treat each family with respect. Everytime I thinking I’m judging to much I look at my family and laugh because I know someone probably judges me on how I raise my children!!! We all have our goals and our battles that we want to fight. Our goals and battles are probably different but the end result is that we love our family for who they are and where they come from.

    Enjoy your little boy’s birthday!!!!

    Julie Rousseau

  33. DInah says:

    I like this! I totally understand what you mean. I’ve been noticing that all my young mom friends are weaning at 6 months, and I probably would have, too, if it hadn’t been for a very allergic baby. NOW I see that 6 months isn’t some magic time when their bellies need ‘real food.’
    Here’s to mothering by instinct, love, and common sense!

    • Anne says:

      My kids had dairy allergies, too, and that was definitely a factor in the long-term nursing mindset.

      And here, here to instinct, love and common sense!

  34. Eos Mom says:

    I loved nursing my son. It was the one thing I felt I was “doing right” as a mom, but at 8 months he was so sick (long story) that I had to stop breastfeeding so that he could go on a special prescription formula. So I think any mother is blessed who can continue to breastfeed as long as she and her child want.

  35. Kari says:

    Such a good question. I can mostly remember the things that have been hurtful, but there are a few kind things that have meant so much. The main one I remember is that the first week that I had my baby in daycare (I work full time outside the house), a friend of mine who also works outside the house sought me out and let me know that it does get better, that we would all adjust.

  36. Just found this post (and you!) via EE’s Saturday Evening Blog Post. Love! Love! Love! (Says the Momma currently breastfeeding a 15-month-old, walking talking toddler.) Oh yeah, and I nursed his sisters for 3 and 2 years, respectively. Thank you for sharing. And you are so right about the whole secrecy thing. If we’re going to be supportive, we’ve got to start by being honest. Not just with breastfeeding, but everything. Rock on, Momma.

  37. erin says:

    I nursed my oldest until she was 14 months, until she didn’t want it anymore. So we stopped. My snuggly baby got all independant on me and didn’t want to cuddle anymore either, it was so sad to stop. We just had our second 3 1/2 weeks ago, and my plan is to again keep going until she doesn’t want it anymore.

    Like someone else said, the first part is the hardest, and after 6 months it really is easy to keep going. you’re boobs get a break because of baby food, and you can have a break with a babysitter without having to pump or give formula.

    My MIL and all my inlaws formula fed all their kids, they all think i’m crazy, but my kids go to the doctor WAY less. So i’m going to get some derogatory comments, but it doesn’t matter. After seeing my daughters grow up so strong and healthy, i think i’ll just take it in stride.

    good for you!!

  38. Tim says:

    Yeah, both of our kids were still nursed after their second birthdays also. I didn’t give a whip what anyone else thought.

    Tim

    • Anne says:

      Ha! Love it, Tim. That “not giving a whip” part comes harder for me, but I’m getting there 🙂

  39. Tim says:

    I should clarify, Anne, that there was one opinion I held in high regard. My wife’s. Boy did I ever listen to her when it came to decisions about nursing the kids!

    Tim

    P.S. About learning not to give a whip: I figure parenting’s hard enough without having to please folks who aren’t even related to me (or even those who are for that matter). You’ll get better at it as time goes on, Anne, trust me on that. The fact that you already see yourself getting there (even if slowly) means that you are a lot farther ahead than lots of folks.

  40. Suzette @ jambalaya says:

    I have been encouraged when struggling with teething and thrush all at the same time! A dear friend came with flowers picked by her girls, dark chocolate, baby orajel (which didn’t end up working for us but it was TOTALLY a touching gesture) and a sweet card. I don’t think I’ll forget that day.

    Although she and I don’t agree 100% we agree 75% of the time and that is enough for me! I have learned that my pickiness about friends is really just a great way to isolate myself in this journey of motherhood. Working on not being a frenemy myself (I don’t think I realize it until WAY after the comment has been made and the conversation is over) but also not being a people pleaser.

    Thanks for this post. Currently nursing through pregnancy and it’s a huge decision that has toe-curling painful moments but it’s the best choice for today. Taking nursing and really motherhood overall, one day at a time!

  41. Cole says:

    i know exactly how you feel. before i even had my son…i remember talking to a family member after she had given birth…and she said “Ew, breastfeeding, i can’t imagine putting my baby on my boob”…and it hit me…something that should be so natural…was ‘disgusting’ to someone else. My descision to bf was not a hard one…i wanted to give my son the best—and as we all know, breast is best. The bonding that i have with him—goes beyond anything i can ever explain. And he is 6 months, and we are still continuting. I don’t know how long we will go, or how long we will last…but i am enjoying this time…and i get a little sad to think of a time when he will not need me anymore 🙁 Selfish, i know.
    Do you usually pump? I am a full time working Mom, and i would like to continue to BF but my supply takes a big plunge since i’m away from him during the day. I would love to continue feeding him morning and nights…i’m just nervous my supply will not keep up.

  42. I’m constanly encouraged by posts like this!

    “But we can’t help each other if we’re keeping things secret that ought to be shared.”

    Best quote I’ve read online in a long time! Thanks for being honest, Anne.

  43. I don’t know how I missed this post. I love this. I used to be such a people pleaser and occasionally I slip back into that pattern. But since being sick, I have had a much different perspective.
    I was belittled for not hiring a wet nurse to nurse my fourth child since I didn’t have the ability to nurse due to cancer. I went through a period of feeling tremendously inadequate and lacking a feminine identity. I grieved when the nurse handed me a bottle of formula and said, “Sorry it took me so long. Most people nurse today.” She didn’t mean anything mean, but it made me feel inadequate.
    All this to say that I think it’s a gift that you can nurse, whether it be for 6 weeks or 2 years.
    I really am working on remembering that each of us comes to the table with a different story and perspective. It’s not my job to make another’s story match my own (or have mine match another’s).
    Love your honesty. Share away.

    • Anne says:

      Jenny, I am just floored by what you went through. People put you down because they thought you should have hired a wet nurse?? Really?? How horrible!

      I appreciative your perspective and wise words: we doall bring a different story and perspective to the table. I wish the richness of that variety could be valued instead of a source of conflict. Maybe we can move in that direction. I hope so.

  44. Stephanie says:

    I nursed both of my older daughters to approximately 2-2.5. Our youngest daughter turns one next week and I plan to do the same.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  45. Jennifer H says:

    Just clicked over from your post today. In my world, it’s been my mother who questions my parenting choices, even while she tells me what a great mother I am and how great my son is turning out. It started with the extended (exclusive) breastfeeding (almost 3 years), not leaving him with a non-family babysitter, moved on to paying for education instead of public school (especially when he got a spot at the traditional elementary school!), and is now onto my support of his decision to be a vegetarian (“is he really old enough to make that decision for himself?”). Sometimes, you just have to smile and nod. Sometimes I explain our choices, and sometimes I just say “this is what works for us”.

    • Tim says:

      Jennifer, you are handling it better than I would. I’d be tempted to say, “Mom you got to raise me, now I get to raise him.”

      Cheers,
      Tim

  46. Amanda says:

    Sorry for the late comment, but I’m a new reader and just found this post.

    I nursed my son until about 25 months. I never would have imagined that despite my somewhat crunchy ways. I definitely kept it a secret because I didn’t feel like dealing with the side eye. In fact, I thought about quitting several months prior because I could feel it coming on, but my son started nursing only before bed and when waking up and I realized it was mostly happening in private-and that I could go back to wearing my regular bra 😉 I talk about it with like minded friends and people needing support and figure, otherwise, it’s not really anyone’s business.

    I have a question for you though. I’ve learned so much since becoming pregnant 4 years ago and a lot of my opinions have changed through what I’ve learned. When we know better, we do better. How do you draw the line between sharing to support and minding your own business? I think sometimes women feel attacked when that isn’t necessarily the intention (and I say that as someone who has probably shared to support and also probably shared out of feeling self righteous-just being honest). Do we speak in love and just hope it’s received that way?

    • Anne says:

      Amanda, that’s such a delicate question. My impulse is it that the answer lies in tone and intention (of both parties). Like when my friend said babies who talk are too old to nurse, she wasn’t meaning to be mean–breastfeeding longer than that wasn’t in her experience. I’d probably speak up there (now that I’ve gained some confidence; when I first started breastfeeding I wouldn’t have said a word!)

      I’ll usually share to support–if it comes up–because women in minority positions (like breastfeeding toddlers) can use all the support they can get! Unless they’re being judgmental and self-righteous about it, which does happen, sadly.

      Your bullet point summary is great, to just speak out of love and hope it’s received that way.

  47. I found this post after reading something here the Simple Homeschool blog posted on weekend links. What a nice blog you have here.

    My daughter just weaned last month after 4.5 years of breastfeeding. It took her a whole month to learn to nurse as a newborn. Those were hard days of begging God for ultimate success while feeding her breastmilk with a tube until she learned to latch. I had too much milk and it let down too fast, so that was part of the problem. These years have been so blessed! I don’t know if you’re still nursing now, but just wanted to say that when a child self-weans, it’s a beautiful thing and don’t be embarrassed about how long they continue. Neither of us were sad at the end because the relationship had a natural progression. Bless you!

  48. Karen says:

    I nursed all of mine til 3 years of age. I don’t regret it, I did feel like I could not tell everyone, especially when beforehand first was born my mom told me she never did that “breast feeding”. As a mom I think we probably all feel judged if we don’t do things like everyone else. Why can’t we just be there
    For each other and support each other.

  49. Emily says:

    This is an awesome post! I am so glad you blog about these things. In my opinion there are two many things that people don’t talk about that they should! Thanks for being honest!

  50. Kim says:

    I figured I’d nurse my kids for a year, because formula feeding was a substitute for breastfeeding, and you do that for a year. When my firstborn had sucking problems, I sought help, and ended up attending La Leche League, where the wonderful leaders said to take what worked for me, and don’t worry about the rest. What doesn’t work for me is an often pervasive LLL world view that attachment parenting renders a sin nature null and void. Everything else worked for me! I loved sleeping with them, nursing them long after they started talking (it was so fun to see what their word for nursing was: “gee” (?), “best” (breast) “pees” (please) and, my favorite, “num-num.”) Of course they were never aloud to scream anything so crass as “I want my boobie!” The fact that my body meant comfort and nourishment to them built a foundation of trust that we enjoy today at ages 22-13. Contrary to ridiculous ideas that the husband is left out of this equation, I am confident it made him more sensitive to them. We are all best friends today. I am so glad for our extended breast-feeding relationships.

  51. Lesley says:

    My aunt, a mother of seven and my doula, a mother of three both gave me the same advice in their own ways (they are very different people!). It was this: don’t listen to anyone about how to handle breastfeeding or other baby advice and do what works for you and your baby. It was the absolute best thing I heard from anyone. Then, when I had questions, these were the two wise women I turned to!

  52. I hear what you’re saying. I nurse my kids a lot longer than that. And…gulp…I’m still nursing my 4 year old. I believe in child led weaning, so mine have weaned at 2 1/2, 4 1/2, and I’m currently nursing my just turned 4 yr old. I’ve read lots of studies and if we nursed like other mammals, children would be 6 or 7 when they weaned. I live in a bubble and it’s normal to let me children self wean, but when I get outside that bubble, I realize how different I am from the other moms with kids her age. I wish it was normal because when people do find out, they look at me like I have a 3rd eye. I don’t even tell the pediatrician or dentist we’re still nursing.

    • Kim Rendle says:

      Stephanie, no need for gulping! My kids weaned at 4, 2 1/2, 3 1/2, 3 1/2. Be proud and enjoy the relationships you’re building, and the fact that you’re modeling for your children the close relationship they’ll likely enjoy with their little ones some day. It’s not just extended nursing that’s uncommon. It amazes me how many new moms assume it’s no big deal to return to work, and seem surprised that it’s hard/expensive/painful/exhausting to pay some stranger to mother your child while you work full time. I get the grim necessity of working, but I don’t get the assumption that it’s a natural thing to do, and I feel much wealthier having my children as best friends with our old cars, hideous carpet, peeling kitchen floor, and sawdust-creating drawers than I would if I’d chosen to pursue more career and more stuff.

  53. Tabitha says:

    Thank you for sharing–we do need to be more honest with each to support each other more authentically! And just FYI? I stopped nursing my first just shy of his third birthday and my second well past his third birthday. And they’re among the healthiest, kindest, most well-adjusted kids I know. I wouldn’t change a thing. (I still remember being at Bunco one night and a woman asking how long I’d nursed my first. “Two years,” I replied. My close friend kicked me under the table. The truth was, he’d been two…and 11 months. I’m not always open to sharing)

  54. Marci says:

    I nursed my first born until he was a little over two as well. The only reason it naturally came to an end is I was pregnant with my second child (born when first was two years four months) and my supply went away. I would have nursed my second that long too but she went on a nursing strike at 9 months. I tried and tried to get her to return, but she would not, so I pumped for her until she was a year old. I never thought I’d nurse that long, but we all loved it and it felt like the most natural thing in the world.

  55. Jody says:

    I wanted to comment about the photo that led to the retinoblastoma diagnosis. We had this same scary experience with my 10 month old grandson. After he was rushed to an eye doctor and found nothing was wrong we spoke to the person who had taken the photo. She had tried to fix red eye – couldn’t get it corrected but didn’t want to say I tried to fix your child’s eye because it looked weird in the picture.

    This being said please check with anyone who has taken a picture to make sure they haven’t tried to alter it in any way.

  56. Carol in NM says:

    I love to tell people I nursed my son until after his 3rd birthday. The look on their faces is priceless! Lol! I mentally dare them to say anything negative to me about what I did with/for MY son. I’m so glad we nursed as long as we did. My son is a confident, secure, loving and compassionate child (8 now) and I believe the extended breastfeeding had something to do with that. 🙂

  57. Maryellen says:

    I nursed my son until he was a little over two. Lots of people didn’t understand at the time but he is happy and healthy and 38 years old!!

  58. Abigail says:

    Thanks for sharing this Anne. Even though this IS a post about breast-feeding, in a small way, it also definitely is NOT a post about breast-feeding. I am not a mother, nor am I married, but I have definitely been challenged to re-evaluate how I react to people’s different views, and how I might come across. I can also definitely relate to someone else’s comment about being a conflict avoider in sharing my own views, and thereby sometimes lacking more depth in relationships because I sense that person is antagonistic towards discussing different views-and sometimes it’s not even about important things! So anyways, thanks for your insight, your vulnerability, and your courage. Brene Brown would be proud =)

    • Jamie says:

      Abigail: I really liked your comment. Sometimes people that have not experienced something (motherhood, etc.) can be really judgmental to others that already have that experience. I like the way that you think about things in that you are willing to hear someone else’s view and determine that they may deserve the benefit of the doubt-even if your opinion is or may have been different. The worst thing I hear from people that have not had children is “When I have children…(usually the opposite of what they just saw a parent/child do).” I have three children and have helped raise (short term) two of my young grandchildren. Neither of the five were the same and I grew in my understanding of parenthood as I matured in life. When you have children you have no idea what you will do until it comes that time and each experience is likely to be different. You’ve already achieved this knowledge and it will take you far in life. Good luck!

  59. Jamie says:

    I love keeping no secrets, and I love raising your child the way you see fit!! I see this as no different than how long someone choses to allow their child to suck a pacifier. People thought I was crazy to allow my almost three year old to suck a pacifier (he was broke shortly before three-he pretty much did it himself-low to no stress for me or him). They thought I was even more crazy to allow him to wait until he was 3+ to potty train. Being strongly “encouraged” by others, at 2 – 2 1/2 years I asked him several times that if I bought the BuzzLightyear/Woody underwear would be pee/poop in them. He gave an honest answer of “yes”, so I didn’t buy them and he didn’t change his answer to get them either (daycare was mortified because as they said “diapers are so expensive”). It was my money and I didn’t mind buying the diapers. At around 3 years and 3+ months HE came to me and told me that he wasn’t going to pee or poop anymore in his underwear, and he NEVER did!!!! No accidents. Nothing. Going another 6-9 months in diapers sure was easier than putting up a fight for weeks or months on end to try and FORCE my child to use the potty on MY terms and not on HIS terms.
    Once a friend told me that a woman in church “Just whipped it [her breast] out and started feeding her baby right there in church!” I told her that we wouldn’t be having this conversation had the woman “just whipped out a BOTTLE and started feeding the child”. She (my friend) was too embarassed to continue the conversation. Good!
    I did try to breast feed my last two (of three) children but had medical problems so was unable to do so for an extended period of time. I salute women who breastfeed children to whatever age they so desire; even older than your 2 year old.
    It’s strange. I helped a friend break her child of the pacifier and to potty train her child much younger than my son; however chose a different route for my own child(ren). It was her decision and what she felt was best. I didn’t belittle her because I chose to do something different (and it wasn’t harming her child). I also support women who allow their children to decide when to start/stop doing something with/for their child.
    Women supporting women!! No matter how they choose to raise their child. That’s what we all should do. What I may or may not choose to do should not affect what you may or may not choose to do, however we should both support one another. No matter what! If you ask for my opinion, I’ll give it to you. Doesn’t mean you have to take it and it certainly doesn’t mean I will think any less of you if you chose not to.

  60. Terri Torrez says:

    Love this! I wish there had been places like your site, where women can support each other, when I was nursing. The first year was tough for me but once I hit that milestone and he was consuming other foods, the pressure was off. There was no reason to wean. I’m a WOHM so I continued to pump until he gave up the bottle at 18 months. Somewhere in his second year I cut off the middle-of-the night feedings for my own sanity. But I continued to allow him to nurse at other times for both the nutrition/immunity benefits and for comfort. Gradually those times dropped until he weaned completely at four. I definitely miss those times.

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