Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Breastfeeding for 20 months

Oh yes. You read that right. Lily is 20 months old and she is still breastfeeding. I never thought I would breastfeed this long. In fact, I was worried that we wouldn't even make it to 12 months like I had originally hoped. I constantly worried that my milk supply wasn't good enough because Lily was always smaller than most kids. For a few months she fell of the chart, and that was even after we were starting solids!

When I think of breastfeeding lately, my mind goes to my group piano class my freshman year of college. Why? Because I want to apologize for the thoughts that I had at that time. One of the piano professors was breastfeeding her toddler. I do not remember how old her little girl was, and I never saw it with my own eyes. I only heard some silly boys mention that she was still breastfeeding her kid and her kid was *gasp, old enough to ASK FOR IT. Eeeeeew!!!!

I made the decision that I was going to breastfeed for 12 months back when my little brother was born. I was a mere 9 years old and I overheard his mother (my stepmother at the time) talking about how babies are not supposed to have cows milk until they were a year old. To my 9 year old brain that meant that babies had to have BREAST milk until then. I didn't really know about solids and I didn't really know about formula. All I knew was that babies drink BREAST milk. I knew they could drink out of bottles, but it didn't cross my mind what went in those bottles. I remember that my little brother was given formula after a few weeks or months, but it didn't seem strange to me. It didn't bother me. But to my 9 year old brain, I just knew that I was going to breastfeed my babies until they were 12 months old. That's it. Simple as that.

Nearly 20 years later and here I am breastfeeding a 20 month old. Nooooot what I expected. My mind often goes back to that silent teasing I did while sitting in group piano. After hearing it reported by some silly boys that Mrs. M was still breastfeeding her kid and the kid comes up to ASK for it, I made the decision that THAT was just gross. "I'm not going to breastfeed MY kids when they are old enough to ASK for it!"

Well, my friends, this weekend, Lily finally ASKED for it. Never mind the fact that newborns can and do ASK FOR DEMAND it, my sweet little munchkin said, "Ninnie?" out of the blue when I was trying to distract her from her obvious hints. She had gone three whole days without ninnie and without seeing me at all, and I thought that this might be the time she would wean. I was okay with this. I love breastfeeding her, but I realize that our time may be coming to an end soon. I'm not sure that I can handle the social pressures of breastfeeding a baby past 24 months. 20 months probably already gets me some talking behind my back. Now, I will say that no one has said anything negative to my face...yet. I don't really expect them to because the people I know are nice people and they have nothing to gain by being mean to me.

So Lily said "Ninnie." What you need to understand about Lily is that she will not say a word unless she is SURE that she will say it correctly. She must have known how to say it for awhile, but it wasn't until this moment of panic, that clear as day, she said it. It melted my heart, y'all. How could I deny her after that? Well, I did. For a little while longer. But she got her precious ninnie after she took a spill off the bed when we were playing. I think she did it on purpose.

I must admit that I love that she can say "Ninnie." She can say, "Mama, Daddy, Mimi, cow, cat, kitty, meow, woof woof, shoe, uh uh, no, yeah, eye, hair, ear, and water." Now, these are the words I know she can say, but I bet she has more up her sleeve.

So back to the breastfeeding. I must admit that I love extended breastfeeding. I think the past eight months have been my favorite time of the entire experience. Once we reached 12 months, I know longer worried about if my milk supply would make it. It truly was a load off my mind. I could focus on just being with her and enjoying the cuddles. I also admit to enjoying it because she did it fewer times a day. It was more predictable and I didn't HAVE to do it if I didn't want to. Her survival didn't depend on it. It's just less pressure. I don't have to leave bottles with anyone if we want to go out. I don't have to pack a cover. I can give her something else to eat if we go out. I can still give her ninnie if she hurts herself or needs help falling asleep. I suppose what I worry about now is wondering what I'll do when she hurts herself once she is weaned. My whole mothering style will be changed!

I really want to make sure that I cherish this time as much as I can. I want to cherish it so much that when I look back on it 20 years from now, I won't need to miss it. Is that even possible?

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