I never gave much thought to breastfeeding before I became pregnant. I knew it was something I would like to try, yet I also acknowledged that it was such a strange and foreign concept to me. I basically pushed thinking about it off until after my son arrived. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to do it at all but I am a wait and see kind of girl.
My son was born in June of 2015 and shockingly all of those reservations about nursing melted away once he latched for the first time. For me, it just felt right and special. Nothing had ever compared to the nurturing, loving bond that happened in that moment and every session thereafter.
I was so lucky to be able to have a successful breastfeeding relationship from the start. It was working for me and it was working for my son. I hadn’t really known anyone who had nursed past 6 months and will be the first to admit I had rolled my eyes or thought nursing past a year was a little strange.
One year of nursing flew by. So when his first birthday rolled around many around me assumed I would just stop. Many of those same people also told me exactly what they thought of extended breastfeeding. “Weird,” “why,” and “when are you going to stop” often poured out with the accompanying raised eyebrow.
It’s mind-blowing to me that people can be so nosey and opinionated over personal choices that have zero effect on them. Logically I knew that I didn’t owe anyone an explanation for my plans to feed to my child. It’s simply none of anyone else’s business. But judgment can do funny things to you.
It got to the point where I would straight up lie that I was no longer nursing or make nervous excuses to over explain my choice.
Sometimes I would talk up the benefits of extended breastfeeding: boosted immunity, continuing to meet his nutritional needs, reduced risk of certain maternal illnesses. Heck, I even would tout the magical weight loss powers as a reason for continuing.
Many times I just resorted to saying in an annoyed tone, “I’m sure we will be weaned before he leaves for college.”
This line works for SO many things by the way. I’ve also used it in regards to co-sleeping, giving a bottle, picking him up on demand, it works for pretty much any situation where someone is questioning your parenting.
Beyond all of that though was something I didn’t feel comfortable admitting to the naysayers. It was a connection that was just mine. It was a rare few stolen moments of just us. I knew it wouldn’t last forever. Sure other people could and did feed him with a bottle but this was our special connection.
In the end, I breastfed my son until just before his second birthday. At that point, I started feeling like I wanted to stop and luckily it was a pretty emotionally and physically painless process. It’s been about 6 months now since our last time and I sometimes do still miss it. But I am happy for the next chapter in our mother-son relationship and watching him mature and grow.
Aside from all my justifications, I am no longer embarrassed by our extended nursing. I am happy I was able to do it for so long. When we have another baby I think I will be less apologetic and more mind your own business when it comes to the business of my breasts.