by Kate Zahir
Source: Family Resource Guide
Original Article: Click Here
Originally Published: October 2010
OK, I’ll admit it. It’s been five years—and counting—and I haven’t missed a day yet. In the beginning, it would occur at regular intervals. That was when I still had control. But as soon as my accomplice got hooked, it happened any time of the day or night.
Yes, I am one of those moms who’s turned herself into a regular Dairy Queen, nursing for over five years without missing a day (or night), and the addiction hasn’t stopped yet. At first, it was my first-born, breastfeeding for three years. Then it was tandem nursing for a three-month period. And now it is my second son going solo. Most of the time, breastfeeding is blissful and I can think of nothing more beautiful to share with my children. During the times when I stagger into the nursery at 2 a.m. responding to a desperate “Mommeee, Mommeee,” stubbing my toe on the change table in my delirious state and wondering how I ever got myself hooked on such a debilitating habit, I just have to look into the teary eyes of my woken baby, and see such immense love and appreciation for what I am offering that I can’t help giving in. What a pushover, eh?
To say that both my children have—past tense for my first-born—a lactic dependency would be an understatement. Is it a boy thing? Hard to say since I have only had the experience of raising boys (at least so far). From my breastfeeding experiences and other tender moments with my boys it seems to me that they do have a strong affection for the maternal presence. But as we well know, every child is different and there is no certainty that if I had another son he would display the same propensity.
I chuckle to myself now when I think about how much I worried about my first-born when he didn’t latch on quite how I wished during his first days out of the womb. Oh how I would panic when he didn’t wrap his trembling lower lip as perfectly around my nipple as I had memorized from the photographs in the baby books—or should I say baby bibles—I had studied judiciously prior to giving birth. Was he ever going to get it right? Why wouldn’t he stay at the breast longer? Why did he keep falling asleep even though I was doing everything I was instructed to do? I was preoccupied with failing and thought the two of us would never find a common rhythm.
Somehow, blessedly, we got it right and then the song never stopped. Funny how those chapters on breastfeeding in the baby books never seem to mention anything about this problem. It’s all about “latching on” rather than the sometimes all-too-tricky “latching off!” I doubt I am the only one who has encountered a baby or two who seem determined to spend years at the breast. Many a time I have talked on the phone, folded laundry one-handed, responded to e-mails, and even answered the door, making sure to cover up whatever I could, with a baby suckling. Who would have thought? My naïve impressions prior to having my first baby always envisioned myself nursing my baby—heaven forbid a toddler—maybe twice a day and only while sitting quietly in a comfy rocking chair with my feet up listening to a lullaby playing in the softly lit nursery. Oh how motherhood has a way of blasting one into reality like a rocket ship leaving its launch pad.
When I tell people how long I’ve been breastfeeding, they are amazed. The inevitable question that arises is “But how did you get pregnant while you were still breastfeeding?” Well I think we all know the answer to this one. It happens.
The next question on everybody’s mind is “But didn’t it hurt like crazy to nurse your toddler when you were pregnant?” In a word, yes. You know those breasts which get so tender and sore while your hormones are having a party in your pregnant body? Well now imagine an eager two-year-old clamping his mouth onto your swelling nipple and you probably get the picture. While the discomfort of a nursing toddler is often worst during the first trimester, it never totally goes away—it just kind of diminishes bit by bit until you go into labour and delivery at which time the pain magically disappears.
The answer to this last question is a no-brainer in my opinion but people were determined to ask nonetheless: “But wasn’t it tiring to nurse two children?” What do you think? Of course it was! If you’ve ever had the experience of breastfeeding one child, then multiply this by two and you get the idea. I have photographs of me sitting in an oversized winged chair with my newborn baby on one breast and my just-turned-three-year-old on the other. To no one’s surprise, my hair is a tangled mess and the circles under my eyes are scary. But through the exhausting exercise my preschooler seemed to feel more at ease with the new baby knowing that Mom had a place for him at the breast, too.
I feel fortunate that I have been able to breastfeed for this long. I know that it’s not for every mother—sometimes by choice and other times for reasons beyond her control—but for me it has been one of the most joyful experiences that I have shared with my two sons.
Will I give it up soon? Probably. I miss wearing a dress once in a while and wouldn’t mind ditching the nursing bras, at least for a while. But a child’s early years are fleeting. It makes sense to enjoy the moments for the simple joys they hold. I guess it’s true that we should share what we can with our loved ones. Even if it means giving up a few things now and then. Hey, isn’t that what motherhood is all about?
Kate Zahir is an elementary school teacher who’s greatest moments are spent with her two boys, Dante aged two and Max aged five.
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