son celebrated turning 21 months old by waking up at 5:15 a.m. and nursing for
over an hour. I won't paint a cozy
picture of us from that morning, because the truth is I was irritated he
was up so early and annoyed he wouldn't fall back asleep without sucking on my
breast. I stayed awake thinking about
the day ahead. And I thought about nursing.
Honestly, I am shocked I am still nursing him. My plan was to hit the year mark when we
could transition him to organic cow's milk and then see what happens with the
I'm not a breast-feeding advocate—I think it's too
personal of a decision to impose it on anyone. I don't tell people how to have
intercourse, and I don't tell them how to feed their babies. I am not a member of La Leche League, though
I did go to a meeting when I was pregnant with my son's older sister. With her, I battled my way through the first
few months of nursing, earning the surreal right to brag about bloody
nipples. Eventually, I returned to work,
dragging my breast pump and counting the minutes until she turned one so I
could stop pumping and have my breasts back.
But before I hit that year mark with my daughter, I got
pregnant with my son, and my milk dried up. There was no decision to make, no
hand-wringing about whether it was the right time to wean. The milk was gone, so she moved on to other
Back then, if you would have told me I would nurse my son
for 21 months (and counting), I would have hit you on the head with my hooter
hider. In my mind, a mother who breast-fed beyond 15
months was way more granola than I am. I don't wear Dansko clogs or natural fiber outfits, nor do I garden or
maintain a compost bin.
mother in my imagination was a stereotype that I didn't question, because it
wasn't me. Except now it is. Except for the clogs, the natural fibers, the garden and the composting, I am that
woman who breast-feeds a child who is old enough to say, "I want to nurse."
It seems like I should be proud of nursing this long, but, since I never planned it, I don't take much pride in it.
working for us, and that's all that matters. Although, sometimes I feel a tiny
nibble of guilt at the edges of this experience, because my son has nursed so
much longer than my daughter. But I
simply can't keep their scorecards perfectly balanced.
It seems like I
should be proud of nursing this long, but, since I never planned it, I don't
take much pride in it. And I am not
ashamed about our extended nursing, either, though sometimes when my son asks
to nurse in the middle of music class, I feel embarrassed because I don't know
the other mothers. I am afraid they are
When people ask me how long I will keep going, I give
them an honest answer: "I have no idea." And I don't. I guess as long as
it's working for us. When it starts to
be a burden for me or a bore for him, we will put that part of our relationship
away, and I will probably have an array of emotions. But until then, it's just what we do because
it works for us.