I am amazed at how much knowledge I have learned since becoming a mother. The minute I feel stuck, lost, lonely, helpless, judged, you name it, I hop onto the internet or buy a book relevant to my dilemma and I am at ease. Using this approach to seek solutions, understanding, empathy, and normalization has rescued me from feeling like a weirdo. Even better, it has forced me to reflect on my stance on certain topics, such as breastfeeding, sleep training, co-sleeping, educating, and disciplining. The aforementioned topics are common big ones that are addressed at length by people, but for my own sake of venting/sharing, and possibly to help someone else, I’d like to document my experience and reflections. For the next five blog posts, I will cover each topic.
1. Breastfeeding. When I started breastfeeding, I was proud of myself and thankful I didn’t come across issues with using it as the exclusive means to feed and soothe Zane. I did have sore nipples and had mastitis early on, and by 6 months had swore I was ending the nursing relationship by a year. Now Zane is 22-months-old and still happily sucking away! If he had his way, he would live on my boob much longer. However, it takes two to enjoy the relationship and I am starting to explore how to gently wean him around his second birthday (and once he has adjusted to our across the world move). Taking aside my current thoughts on nursing and its documented benefits, what I’ve learned about breastfeeding is how convenient and inconvenient it is, and how the US is not a culture and society that encourages it, nor normalizes it.
First, the convenience of it is that I can basically have it available for Zane any time, any place, and to remedy any situation. Like just a minute ago, Zane just fell off his toddler bed and I went rushing in with my handy boob to soothe him back to sleep. I think if I didn’t have it, it would’ve taken longer and he may not have returned back to napping. Along this vain, I also continued nursing in preparation for our 13-hour flight to Australia. It turns out my ‘tool’ offered us more sleep and less screaming on the plane.
While very handy, it also is an inconvenience in that all my tops and bra need to be nursing-friendly. In a second I need to have access straight away! This means I can’t wear many tops I’d much prefer to have on. Another inconvenience is that my time away from Zane is not as long (especially in the younger months) because I needed to provide his food supply (compared to formula) and/or my boob was irreplaceable for certain tender moments. Of course sometimes I dreamt of cutting him off my supply sooner so it could convenience me, but my intuition told me that he still needs it, whether for security or nutrition.
As I’ve learned more about breastfeeding, like WHO recommending mothers breastfeed their child until age two and beyond, I see how much it is normal to nurse, yet all around me I don’t see this being the case. Many of my mom friends either formula-fed their littles for whatever reason, weaned their child before 18-months, or their child self-weaned (typically if the mother worked). Since I’m in neither of these cases, lately I’ve felt alone regarding Zane still nursing and wanting to nurse often (even at night)! Thankfully I do have some girl friends who ‘get’ my situation and are my encouragers and normalize my feelings. I am reminded that what I am offering to and doing for Zane is amazing. As well, I am reminded to surround myself with like-minded nursing mothers and to not weigh too heavily the suggestions and judgments of others who have never walked in my shoes. Lastly, when sitting with my worst feelings, I can remember that in the Mongolian culture, breastfeeding is the norm and that some kids are breastfed until nine!
So although I still need to come to terms with what I’m comfortable with as I make a weaning plan for Zane, I need to remember that I am doing something marvelous for our kid at the sacrifice of my own personal space and owning my own boob again!!