Thursday, September 03, 2009

5 Years, 1 Week

I think I may have been the only one counting. If you're lucky enough to be able to nurse your babies, you know what a special, intense relationship it is. I certainly didn't intend to nurse for 5 years that first time he latched on in the hospital. I had a c-section for a transverse breech and still googly eyed from a bad reaction to the spinal, it was my Super Doula who held him the first time he nursed, knowing how critical it was to get him latched on even if I was not all there. Honestly, our nursing relationship was pretty much as easy as they come after that.

It was my connection to this new tiny being in my world. It was my secret weapon for calming an active toddler. It was my peace from a child who NEVER. STOPS. TALKING. It was my peace of mind during cold and flu season. It was a way to force ME to lay down and relax and do nothing. It was a quick snack when the unorganized mama didn't bring one. It was sustenace for the boy who wouldn't even taste food until he was 13 months old. It was I'm Sorry, It'll Be Ok, Don't Be Afraid, I Love You.

I never set any deadlines, never cut him off, and truly never resented or regretted a minute of it. It didn't make sense to put an artificial stop to something so natural. I told him that when he stopped was his choice. And he said "When I am 5 I will stop." And about a week after he turned 5 this summer he unceremoniously stopped asking. And then recently he finally said, "So can I have a weaning party now?" He was ready, I was ready, the boobs were ready. It happened so naturally and so peacefully it's almost surreal.

Not that much has changed in our relationship. We still have a family bed. He still wants to be close to me and snuggle. It's just that now my shirt is down. Now it's ALL about the closeness and not the milk. Now it's about checking in not checking out. Now it's about sharing our words and feelings more than me sharing my body. And more than anything, it's about that bond we'll always have.

I know breastfeeding isn't possible or comfortable for everyone, but if you are able to, do it. And be present. And think of what your baby is getting and not about what you're "giving up". And if you need support or help or a sanity check, find you local LLL group. Go on mothering.com and seek other mamas. Support breastfeeding mamas you know, support the ones you don't know, support them all.


And here's a lovely little book we were honored to be a part of called Near Mama's Heart by Colleen Newman. It's the only one I know of that meant for kids that shows real photos of real mothers nursing. This photo for the book was taken by my dear friend Diane when Zach was 15 months old.
It's just a mama feeding and nurturing her baby the best way she knows how.

18 comments:

Frontier Dreams (Nicole) said...

Yay!! Thats you in the book?! How exciting!! We read that book almost every day. I, too, never had a deadline for nursing but at the same time I never thought I would be nursing a soon to be 4 year old not to mention with a 16 month old at the same time. It's so special, though I would never give up any moment of it! Thanks for the wonderful post!!!

S said...

Bravo! My son self-weaned at 2.5 but my girls are still going at 4 and 2. Wouldn't give it up for the world.

Joy said...

This was such a lovely post. The photo of you two from the book is just amazing. I'm sure you're thrilled to be a part of that. Having gone through this around the same time, I totally understand the wistfulness. With the grief I was getting from family from nursing at 2, I can only imagine what they would have said about 5. ;) Congrats to both you and Zach for such a fantastic nursing relationship.

Amanda said...

Congrats mama! What a lucky boy. I'm pretty sure if I hadn't been pregnant N would still be nursing... he stopped at around 2 1/2..
What a BEAUTIFUL picture!! I'm going to look for that book.

Sam said...

Congratulations to you both. Still nursing here at 2 1/2. You both deserve a big piece of cake:)

Anonymous said...

Have a great party! And that picture or you and Zach is beautiful. Yeah for CLW!

mamaroots said...

fantastic post- fantastic picture! Wonderful for this Friday- blessings to you both and have a wonderful weaning party!

Kelly said...

Bravo, Mama! Your post leaves me with tears of happiness for you, and for me, with a bit of wistfulness mixed in. I'm so blessed to still be nursing my 2-1/2 year old. I tandem-nursed him and his brother for 18 months, then encouraged my now 4-1/2 year old to wean at 3-1/2. I look back and wish I had the fortitude to let him continue... and I feel sad that I didn't have a weaning party for him. He is such an affectionate, emotionally-connected little boy, and I know deep inside that he would love to still be nursing. I'm so proud of you for continuing and letting Zac decide when he's ready to let go.

This is my first time commenting on your blog, but I've been looking forward to your posts for several months now. I grew up sailing and harbored fantasies about a life aboard... and my children are the 4th generation to visit my grandparent's cottage on the south shore of Lake Michigan (Harbert for the last week of July-first week of August) every year! I feel such a kinship with you. I'm trying to live a waldorf and nature-inspired life on a tight budget and in a small (865-sf) CA bay area home... as a working mama and my family's primary provider. We all do what we can, don't we? Thank you, my virtual friend, for your lovely and frequent posts. I enjoy every one.

Holly Noelle @ Domestic Dork said...

Hooray!!!

Mini-Dork is only 8mo, but she'll get to decide when to stop when that day comes.

And then I'm getting a tattoo to commemorate each year she nursed.

The Curious Holts said...

STUNNING photo! My son quit on his 5th birthday as he claimed he would since he was 3. Bittersweet and thrilling. How lucky we are. I LOVED this post.

gardenmama said...

What a beautiful post Cindy!!
I can relate to everything you expressed in your writing, get it expressed ; ) It is late sorry...My children all nursed to 3 and 3 1/2. I was pregnant and nursing, nursing two at a time... all very different nursing relationships as different as my children are from each other. I will never forget the things my babes would do while nursing, my son would hold his hand up to my face, my daughter would twirl my hair my youngest son would pat my belly : ) I loved this special time together so very much! I love the book you are in!! Truly an honor for your family and inspiration to other mamas!

Stuff On My Blog said...

What a lovely post! I nursed my 3youngest boys all until they were around 2yrs old (coincidentally when I got pg with the next one lol) and tried my hardest to nurse my now nearly grown boys. But 20yrs ago there wasn't the encouragement there is now. It's very bittersweet, for now I know what I missed out on with them.

mamafliz said...

I love your post! I nursed my little guy for 3.75 years and wish I'd gone longer...I still miss that part of our relationship.

Your post summed up exactly how I feel/felt about my nursing relationship and our now non-nursing one.

Thank you for sharing!

Leaves and Feathers said...

This post just brought tears to my eyes. My daughter just weaned this past month, she is 2.5, and while I thought that I was ready and she seems ready...there is still that "mommy sadness" that I have to loose that quiet time that only the two of us shared. Thank you for posting about how wonderful the nursing relationship is!

ve said...

I'm so, so, so touched reading your post. I weaned my son at 2 when I got pregnant. Now I'm still nursing my 9 mo baby girl and I am determined to let her decide when to stop. Thank you for sharing!

Christine said...

did i see a zach-made necklace with buttons??

mb said...

hi cindy, my bff who first turned me on to your blog told me about this post from back in the day... i had to come and check it out, we are approaching (sometime in the next decade, you know) this point in our lives, so i am just basking in the tales of other mamas right now... i love all of your beautiful bf photos, and the one in the book is incredible. might have to get that! it's good to know that others have parties for this sort of thing, too.

Jojo said...

Ha reminds me of my 3 yo son, who had strongly resisted potty training. My exasperated husband after another diaper change asked him, "so when are you going to use the potty!?", my sons say's casually in his baby lisp voice, "Wednesday". And you know what, Wednesday he came running to me to take him potty!! And he has ever since. Amazing..

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