Sunday, May 18, 2008

She Isn't Still Nursing, Is She?

I love my husband. This weekend he got the very first "She isn't still nursing, is she???" comment for this child, and David handled it flawlessly. He smiled at Grandma and answered, "Why, yes she is. Monkey still enjoys nursing, though he doesn't do it all that often. He eats full meals of normal food and drinks regular milk, but he likes to nurse, too."

And he does, too, even though sometimes it's literally only a minute. Sometimes he's just cranky as all get-out, really having a tough time of things, easily frustrated, battling with everyone's wills, and all it takes is three minutes of nummies to make him all back to smiles and calmness. Jabber was just a little bit older when he weaned, and David and I were talking on the drive home about how the Jabberwock didn't seem nearly as connected to nursing as Monkey is at the same age. But I guess I should start expecting the comments to sneak out here and there now.

And you know what? Let 'em comment. I will just smile and say yes, we are still nursing, and I was thinking about how maybe when he goes to college I'll pump for him and send him little care package coolers of breastmilk, since the follow-up question always seems to be, "Well then when ARE you going to wean???" as if there's a magic cut off date, and if you miss it, well, you're screwed. Whatever. With Jabberwock, I was a little more eager to cut him free, since I had to eliminate dairy from my diet while he was nursing. But with Monkey, I'm happy, and he's happy. So what's the big deal?

I was thinking about how much more confidence I have in my parenting decisions with number two than I had with my first son. With Jabberwock, I knew that there were things that made sense to me--like breastfeeding or "co-sleeping" (though I hate that term)--that weren't always supported in mainstream reading material or from family and friends. But I was hesitant, too, unsure. What if he never was able to soothe himself to sleep, like the books said? Am I going to still be nursing him when he's six years old? It helped, though, that everywhere I went, people mentioned what a nice kid he was, how well-adjusted. It helped that he was so happy, that because I had tried above all to foster a secure attachment with him, he feels like he's on pretty solid ground today, at age four. All of this helps me to feel sure of myself and my methods with Monkey now on round two.

I know that Monkey will sleep just fine in his own bed someday, that he'll wean without trauma, that just because I carried him in a sling for much of his babyhood doesn't stop him from venturing out into the world to bravely explore. And beyond just feeling more at ease with defending myself from other people's judgment, I feel like I should also be an advocate for others who may have interest or need support to parent in a way that is a little off the beaten track.


Beverly said...

If that's what "the books" say, you need different books. :-)
I have heard a lot of moms who co-sleep and practice extended nursing say that their children don't sleep through the night until they're 12, 18, 24 months old, etc. However, if you look at that as normal, then babies who sleep through the night at 4 months are the ones with a problem.
I wouldn't judge a family either way. But I would offer my words of support to someone who is letting things progress naturally, doing what she thinks is right for her family.
My three kids all started sleeping in their own beds at about age 3. I noticed that they seem to wean, start using the potty, and sleeping on their own at about the same time, within 6 months or so. It's like they stop being babies in every way.

liss n kids said...

Yeah, I've definitely read some much better books now, but of course the reading material a first-time mom gets from most "mainstream" sources make you think that co-sleeping is at best a life sentence to bed sharing and a clingy, co-dependent child and at worst a dire safety hazard bordering on child abuse. Luckily, to me it seemed the most natural thing in the world. Plus, I was lazy, and once I figured out how to breastfeed while sleeping, I was all over that! ;-)

That's really interesting that your children went through those milestones naturally all around the same time. Proof that kids won't stay babies forever, even if you're "babying" them! (i.e. meeting their needs!)

Thanks for the comments!

half pint pixie said...

Hi Elissa, now I'm reading your archives, it's a good way to enjoy my hot chocolate before bed!

We get asked that all the time and I too use the "she might have weaned by college but I could always pop in during lecture breaks" answer, only problem is I think some people may have thought I was serious, oh well :)

Off to wander around your blog...