I started this blog last week, and have just now gotten around to finishing it! Earlier in the week Time Magazine put out a cover (along with an article) that is certainly making waves. It depicts a blond mom, breastfeeding her son–who happens to be 3 years old and standing on a chair in front of her:
This photo is an awesome example of my shift in perspective, so I felt like it was worth a blog post. The photo is meant to catch your eye. A couple of years ago, I would have responded with “ewww–this is so wierd!” I pretty much thought that breastfeeding, in general, was weird. Every baby I had ever babysat and every baby in my family had been formula fed: you put filtered water in a bottle, added powder, and shook it–and ta-da, baby was happy! Because that is what I knew, that is what I assumed I would do when I had children. Of course, “the chiropractor” had different thoughts about my plans!
In school, he got to learn about all of the benefits of breastfeeding (and “extended breastfeeding”) that I didn’t know existed. Also news to me was that the number of nutrients in breast milk is much higher than those in formula (the formula marketing campaigns totally had me believing that formula was like a powdered version of breast milk!). So he had some very strong arguments for breastfeeding, but if you know me, you know that practicality is what makes something “golden” in my book, so initially, the benefits that I saw in breastfeeding were that a) it was supposed to be healthy for my baby, b) it didn’t cost me a thing, and c) it was going to help me lose weight after the baby was born! Sign me up–this was going to be easy!
Since this blog is all about my eating my words, you won’t be shocked to learn that breastfeeding was not easy for me. Luke had lip and tongue ties (the most helpful, mom-friendly information I have found on this issue has been on my friend Dr. Cindy’s blog), and he was also a pretty big baby (9lbs 6oz), and he was a little squished inside of me, so his jaw was misaligned when he was born, making it nearly impossible for him to latch. We struggled…oh, boy, did we struggle! (In fact we struggled so much, that I think there will be another post about that down the road…).
Basically, I hated breastfeeding. I resented it. I saw moms breastfeeding their babies, and this silent jealousy came out of me. I didn’t know how I would ever keep going. For some reason I had put this deadline in my head of “I will breastfeed until my baby is one year old,” but I didn’t see how I was going to make it a month!
While “the chiropractor” has never breastfed a baby (**giggles** the thought of “the chiropractor trying to breastfeed a baby…teehee), he offered tremendous amounts of encouragement to keep me going. My doula was also an amazing source of help and comfort, and at some point, I realized that Luke and I might just have a tricky nursing relationship, and we would just have to learn to deal with it! I kept going because I knew it was the healthiest option for him.
So will I stop nursing him on his first birthday? Unless he decides to stop, no. First of all, we’ve worked too darn hard (and we’ve both cried too many tears!) over breastfeeding to stop after a year, and second–wouldn’t that be the WORST birthday ever?! I mean, “Happy birthday, Luke! Now that you are one, I am going to take away your main food source and a good source of comfort! You’re a big boy now–good luck!” Eh, I think I’ll wait a little longer. Do I have an end-date in sight? No, but it will happen when it is time.
So as for that picture on the cover of Time–maybe that momma and baby had a tough nursing relationship, too; who am I to judge? If they need a little longer, go for it. We all have to do what we feel is best for our babies. I’m not sure that Time was trying to bring up lots of positive breastfeeding sentiment by publishing that cover, but at least they have people talking.
And (I can picture my family cringing as I write this!), if you run into me still nursing Luke in another year or two, know that I am doing what I feel is best for his little immune system and his growth (physically and emotionally). And if in a year or two, I’m NOT still nursing him, more than likely Luke has told me, “Momma, I’m a big boy now–good luck!”