Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Boob Juice Cocktails

Yes, I did just use the word "boob" in a title.

Moving on.

So. On my facebook page last week, I recounted a conversation with our nurse at the girls’ 15 month well-check up that went like this:

Nurse: You’re not still doing that breastfeeding thing, are you?

Me: Ummm….yes.

Enter crickets and awkward silence.

Definitely know what her thoughts are on breastfeeding toddlers. Sheesh!

I was recounting this to my bestie, who's still nursing her 22 month old, and she said this—“Breastfeeding should become like a callous.”

She’s right. It should.

When a new mom reveals that she’s breastfeeding, we applaud her. Well done, you!

When that same mom with a 15 or 18 or 23 month old reveals that she’s still breastfeeding, it’s not so much applause anymore. It’s often this awkwardness of a person staring at you with, “Wow, isn’t he/she/they a little old to still be on the teat?” going on in his head.

Instead of people becoming accustomed and accepting of the fact that a mom has made the choice to breastfeed, it goes from being something worth cheering about, to being this uncomfortable thing we aren’t going to talk about. Instead of people becoming “calloused” to the idea of breastfeeding, the reverse happens, it goes from a no-big-deal-callous to a sore; an open sore right on your face where people awkwardly avoid looking at you.

Why is that?

Seriously, I'm asking.

I mean, we all have a value system, right? And when something bumps up against what we think is acceptable, we raise our eyebrows.

But. But, why is breastfeeding beyond a year seen as a negative thing by so many? Why is it one of those things that causes eyebrow raises?

Do people not know how cool breastmilk is?! Check it out:

So, Brad comes home from work and gives me a kiss. He also gives me the germs from that lady who coughed on him in the elevator. Yummy. My body takes elevator-lady's germs, and makes antibodies, which go right into my breastmilk. The girls gulp down the boob juice, as my husband calls it, full of all those antibodies, which helps them fight off elevator-lady's coughing germs, which they were exposed to when Brad kissed them. Follow?

Isn’t that so cool?! Nature’s perfect cocktail. Don’t you kinda want some, served up with one of those little umbrellas? It’s ever-changing, and perfectly adjusted. Don't you wish everything was like breastmilk? It makes me want to breastfeed, like, for forever (don’t worry, I won’t).

This isn’t a knock at women who aren’t/didn’t breastfeed. Seriously, no judgments. This breastfeeding thing is hard business! We’re all just trying to survive. You just do what works.

But—for those who have gutted it out one year and beyond—you deserve one big round of applause! No matter how many comments, or strange looks you get--you just keep on servin' up those boob juice cocktails!

Okay, I need to say this. Nursing twins is a completely differnt ball of wax. If you haven't done it, let me just go over a few of the challenges that twin mamas might deal with:

weak latch, or a baby that's too small to latch; NICU time, which inevitably leads to bottles, which can lead to nipple confusion; traumatic birth experiences, which affects milk coming in; supply issues to feed two infants---just to name a few.

That's to say nothing about caring for two infants at the same time. And, and--let's not forget those crazy hormones coursing through our bodies. It's all hard, exhausting business.

So--twin mamas may have some, or all of that to battle against in order to have a successful breastfeeding relationship. It is SO hard. Without lots of support, I would have never been able to do it. Truthfully, if I had had to go back to work, I would have never been able to do it either. I'm fortunate, I get to stay home, and for awhile, the ONLY thing I had to worry about was nursing the girls and working on my supply. There's no way I would have been able to do that with a job.

I'm so thankful that we're still nursing, but a whole lot of things were in place to make that possible.


Anonymous said...

Last Dec 13, when I was so sick with that miserable puke every 10 min for 7 hours, I remember Greg was so concerned about was I. I remember telling him thatmy breastmilk will keep him from getting it as badly as I did. Then, he asked if he could nurse. LOL Um, no.

I would be right there with you, breastfeeding my toddler, if he hadn't been a biter. Then maybe it would have been worth all the pills to get an ounce out (I know I don't have to tell you about supply issues), but I feel like I did it as long as I could. I know so many moms that regret no breast-feeding or wished the had done it longer. You never hear a mom say that she wished she stopped sooner. Boobie-on, girls. Kudos.

Joy said...

I tell you what I nursed my son Van until 18 months but we wanted to get pregnant again so I decided to stop completely. Well it seems as soon as I stoppedd he got really sick for about a week (vomiting and not being a ble to eat). So I say great job and nurse as long as possible! It is the best possible drink for the little ones!!!! Joy

Lauren said...

I nurse my 14 month old son (I refuse to say "still" because our bodies and their bodies are biologically programmed to be doing this in toddlerhood), and I plan to nurse until at least 2, and hopefully let him self-wean (honestly I can't imagine going through the parent-led weaning process; I think it would be too hard on us both). And I agree with you that it should be celebrated, not looked down on. But I ALSO think that it's too bad that we live in a society where we need to rejoice over breastfeeding, instead of it just being the normal thing that almost everybody does. I wish we could get to that point, that full-term breastfeeding - or just breastfeeding AT ALL - is the NORMAL thing for society to do, and that formula was saved for extenuating circumstances. After all, it's the BIOLOGICALLY normal thing.

I realize breastfeeding comes with its own set of challenges. I've had my own. But it's too bad that more people don't have access to excellent support. If everyone breastfed, everyone would know someone who could help them. Maybe then more people to continue the journey, and less people would turn to formula.

Wendy said...

I was never able to breastfeed Ben and Emma exclusively, always had to supplement and so I quit after only about a month. The worst decision I ever made. I still feel guilt and remorse about it every day even though they are thriving. I feel like we missed out on one of the most beautiful things a mother and a baby can experience. They will be my only children and so I will never experience it and that truly saddens me. I realize now that part of the problem was probably a raging case of untreated PPD coupled with caring for 2 babies on my own most days. My husband and parents were wonderful help but there was only so much they could do.

So Julia, go for it! Go as long as you and your children want to go. You are an amazing mother and your girls are so lucky to have you!

Jessica said...

Breast was best for us, by far. But I would never make a momma feel she made the wrong decision if she decided to forgo breastmilk for formula. (Your post doesn't even come close to doing this and addresses individual choices in a very respectful manner.) I a firm believer that each family needs to decide what works best for their own unique situation. That said, I am shocked at the nurse's response.

I was blessed that my b'feeding experience with I&K was a positive one. Were the first three months tough? YES. Did I have a lactation consultant tell me immediately following the birth of my FULL TERM, non-NICU twins that I would not be able to tandem feed at the beginning because twins would have latching issues? Yes. (Did I follow her advice...Heck no!) Did I b'feed into toddlerhood? No. My two were ready to give it up around 13 months as was I. It was a mutual decision. But you know what? My support system made nursing possible for me. My hubby, my mother and my pediatrician were my cheerleaders. Without them, I don't know if I would have stuck with it for as long as I did.

So keep it up, girl! And put those naysayers in their place!

Twinside Out said...

I'll be honest; I thought it was weird that my sister was still breastfeeding her two year old. But that was before I knew anything about it, and the health benefits it provides. Now, I'm the one that people will think is weird, because we don't have plans to wean anytime soon. I feel like we fought so hard to get here, why not enjoy it for a while? Also, with the twins' allergies to soy and cow's milk, this is definitely the best option for us.

It's so difficult to talk about breastfeeding without offending someone, and I think your post was wonderfully written. I say, keep breastfeeding as long as you want!!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I never commented on this post!!!
I actually became MORE secure and confident with nursing in public after Ariana turned one. Maybe it was partially that I was finally comfortable with my body again and also that I felt I was doing my part to lessen the taboo. I proudly nursed without a cover on a glass bottom boat ride at a local nature attraction park while I sat shoulder to shoulder with strangers!
At the risk of sounding condescending- I am SOOO proud of of you for continuing to nurse your girls!!!