Sunday, August 23, 2009

Confessions of toddler nursing

My daughter is going to be 2 next month and while she's still small-ish for her age, I'm feeling that familiar sensation of discomfort nursing around other people. I'm rather fierce in real life, I really don't let other people define how I should parent in order to fit in the 'good' category- I do what's right for my own family and I don't ask what anyone thinks about it. I try to meet situations with compassion, especially those which do not reflect my own values. I do feel strongly that we don't nurse long enough in this culture and that it hurts us in obvious and subtle ways, as individuals and as a culture.

I nursed my oldest until he was 3, my middle until he was 4, and I felt strongly since I started having babies 12 years ago that babies should get to have the milk their mamas make for them. I've worked with countless women in person and online who were nursing babies and young children of many ages - at some point it stopped phasing me.

And then my own children would hit about 2 and I would become suddenly sensitive to what I perceive was the outer judgment of my decision to continue to put my wee one to my breast. I would have met any reproach with either stinging rebuke, recitation of the laws protecting my right to do what I was doing, or 101 reasons why breastfeeding was best- I was armed and ready. Inside, I was a little embarrassed, a little uncomfortable, and wishing that there was something, anything the child would accept in lieu of the breast at that particular moment.

Now my daughter is reaching that age where my comfort level goes down, but my values stay steady- even if I am uncomfortable, she has a right to her milk. This shows me so clearly the inner workings of other moms whose scales might tip the other direction - knowing the babe should ahve milk but feeling so terribly uncomfortable nursing around others that other 'reasons' begin to manifest to justify weaning. I feel that, I really do.

I've been on many forums where any opportunity to wean was jumped on, and I've been on others where discussion of weaning was considered almost abusive if mentioned before the age of 3. I've seen women be told to 'suck it up' when they were in my shoes, and others be encouraged and reassured that if they weaned, they did a good job and were still good mothers (as if when you wean defines your quality as a mother!)

When I think about weaning my daughter I feel a small little sense of relief, to be finished, to be able to put away the nursing bras I don't love, or having to deal with how to nurse her and keep her in a shopping cart simultanously without fully exposing my breast, or how to not have to pull over while driving because she is tired and insists on 'meelk', even a top off to help her fall asleep.

And then I look at her face and wonder how I could ever break her little heart by taking away something so integral to our relationship, to her day - the one thing that allowed me to feel like a mother to her in her first week of life when I could only hold her in the nursery and hand her back over to the women who mothered her the rest of the time.

I nurse her to sleep for her nap and I feel no reservation, no desire to wean us from nursing, to say goodbye to those milky laughs and her sweet breath - it's all about me and the stories I tell myself about how other people view me for nursing her.

Every day, I just choose to get over myself and give her what she needs, give her what I need to give her.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Back to work!

Woo hoo, I'm back to work! A friend re-invited me to her birth which I think is coming up in September, I was hired by another friend for her birth in March, and then a new client tonight due in October!

It feels wonderful and new and strange and exciting to be back to doula work, FULLY present and back. Am I ready with all my papers and processes? No - but am I ready? Yes!! Yes, oh yes, I feel like a newlywed!