By now, most of you have heard about or seen the recent controversal cover on Time magazine. It shows a woman and a young child (not infant) nursing. The magazine’s main topic is not about nursing an older child, but about attachment parenting.
Time does a great job of getting people’s attention by putting the photo on its’ cover. Maybe sales are slow. The cover of the magazine asks the reader, Are You Mom Enough?” I have not read the magazine article yet, but know the answer to the question…yes.
I was one of those attachment parent moms, the article discusses. I did not have my children sleep in my bed, but only because my husband would not allow it. I nursed my youngest son well past the infant stage. A while ago I published a blog about my experience with nursing. I am reprinting it today.
Ba Ba, Binky and Booby
“There must be reasons why men ae so hipped on breasts as if we’d all been weaned too soon.” – Gunter Grass
There are three things a mother must provide for her young infant. Food, comfort and rest. It is the mother’s responsibility to decide how these things will be given to her child. In the world of infant care no three things could mean more. Well, except for the other three most important infant things; ba ba (bottle), Binky (pacifier) and booby (breast).
If ever you want to spice up a dull party, get the group of moms talking about caring for their infants. In particular, bring up the how they comfort and feed their babies. The party that was once dull, will be dull no more. Moms like to brag about how their way to care for their baby, is best.
I was no exception to this rule. I have always had opinions of how infants should be cared for. Upon learning of my first pregnancy, I took my new upcoming career choice seriously. I consulted the finest books available and read them cover to cover. I was prepared.
My mother had given birth to five children and breast-fed them all. I planned to do the same. My mother also did not like pacifiers and did not use them for her babies. I, of course, did not plan to ever purchase a Binky (pacifier). As for bottles, I would keep them on hand for an occasional situation, but no child of mind would be bottle fed.
When the first boy arrived there were health issues. He needed to stay in ICU for a few days after the birth. My plan of never using bottles was busted from the start. Now mind you, I did pump my breast milk for him. I went home and each morning brought back a small cooler of milk. While I was with him during the day I nursed and at night the nurses gave him a bottle of breast milk.
The baby books failed to tell me something like this could happen. But once my new baby arrived home, we were on our schedule…nursing day and night. I was the proud new mom, doing what I thought every mother should do, nurse the new baby. I did not use the dreaded pacifier because I was always available for my infant.
I continued on the path of nursing right up until I was pregnant with my second child. I consulted the baby books and was informed, it was time to wean my 15 month old. And so I did. Baby number two was born and I was back to nursing, this time with no use a bottle ever. Having a Binky was not even a thought.
Looking back at those early parenting years, I realize I was arrogant. I felt I knew what was best for all babies, not just my own. When a friend told me she was pregnant I was thrilled. But when she told me she had no plans to nurse her baby I was shocked.
“I am not going to breastfeed my baby.” – Friend
“Excuse me? You mean you are not even going to try to breastfeed?”- Me
“I don’t want to breastfeed my baby. I plan to use the bottle from the start.” – Friend
How could she not even consider breastfeeding? Did she not read all the latest research on the benefits? I was judgmental. But in my defense, I was younger. I did not realize, I someday would be subject to the same type of judgments, I was placing on her.
I successfully breastfed my second baby and weaned him at the recommended baby book age of 18 months. Everything was as it was supposed to be, with me following all the proper guidelines. Many years later, a new baby arrived. I was older, but still followed my original path of nursing.
Things went well with the new baby and I. We nursed right on schedule. But when the little guy turned 18 months he had no interest in stopping nursing. I talked it over with my husband and both agreed nursing was just fine to continue. So I did. Soon the second birthday arrived and the little guy was still nursing. I did not think about it much, it just felt like the right choice.
My little son had no interest in stopping breastfeeding. I kept thinking he would wake up one day and tell me, he was talking at age two, that he no longer needed the ‘booby’. The term ‘booby’ was what he would say to me when he wanted to nurse. I always thought it was a cute thing to say. That is until he turned three. He was turned three years old and was still nursing.
If ever I was judgmental to others for using a bottle or pacifier, the payback was when people found out I was still nursing a three-year old. While it did not bother my family, the little guy or myself, the scorn from others was difficult.
“Momma. I want some booby milk.” – Little Boy
“He is still nursing? Isn’t he three?” – Friend
“Not right now buddy. Um…well, yes he does nurse sometimes.” – Me
“Not later Momma…now. I want booby, Momma.” – Little Boy
The look on my friend’s face said it all. I was no longer mother extraordinaire. My new title became ‘mother enabler’. Even though I was comfortable with my decision to continue to nurse my older child, I realized others were not. The judgments I placed on others for their personal child rearing choices came back to haunt me.
I suppose I needed to learn this lesson for a lot of reasons. I still have opinions about a lot of things about caring for children, but today I keep more to myself. My choices are my choices. I make my own decisions for my kids, give other parents the same opportunity.
So how long did I continue to nurse my little guy? Well…gulp…I am hesitant to say. It was just shy of his fourth birthday. We were only nursing a bit at night and my husband and I switched roles so he could put the little guy to bed, not me. It worked and suddenly nursing was over. I’ll admit I was a bit sad.
Do I have regrets breastfeeding my little son for so long? No. It was the right choice for us. My only regret is being so judgmental toward other mothers, who could have used my support, more that harsh thoughts.
I believe nursing is a relationship between two people, the mother and child. If one or the other is not happy in the relationship, or wants it to end, then it should stop. I was never unhappy nursing my little son.
Some may view my decision to nurse for so long as disgusting or unnatural. I understand. I do. However, to me it felt right. There is nothing I can do about other people’s opinion.
You have to wonder what Time magazine is up to? Putting one group of moms against another group seems to be norm for the media. First, it was with working and non-working moms, now this.
I do not like the magazine cover. My idea of nursing is one of comfort. Both mother and child, do not look very comfortable.
So to the answer the question,”Am I Mom Enough?” Yes, I am. It is not something I brag or feel badly about.
It is, what it is.