were certain things I thought I’d never do when I became a mother. I wouldn’t yell at my children, share my
marital bed, or breastfeed through toddlerhood. As my husband said with authority
when we first discussed breastfeeding:
“If you can ask for it, you’re too old for it.”
But as we all now know, never
say never when it comes to parenting.
Fast-forward four years and I’m still
nursing my 2-year-old. She’s evolved out
of her sweet baby-word for milk into a precise verbal demand,
“Me want some bubbies, Mommy. NOW.” Even
in liberal Vermont, where lactivism is a thriving movement, I worry what others
friend reassures me, “It’s not a problem if both parties are happy with the
And both parties are.
My toddler is a whirlwind of energy who rarely pauses for snuggling. Nursing
provides us rare moments of connection as we attempt an afternoon nap or wind
down from a busy day. Her warm, sturdy body slides into my lap and curls up
infant-style, her feet flopping over the side of the chair.
10 minutes we nurse and rock in a blissful trace. Her free hand plays with my
hair. Her eyelids flutter as she grows drowsy, nestled in her original source
of comfort. Once again, I’m amazing at
the sheer sensual pleasure of it, the cocoon of give-and-take that shuts out
the outside world. I remember the first months of nursing my babies as a milky
island in a dark sea, the tiny hand like a star, stroking my skin.
I’m flattered. I feel delicious. No lover has ever been as interested in my breasts as
my two babies.
touches me exactly how I’ve always wanted to be touched,” another nursing mama
told me in delight. We were exchanging war stories of first-time motherhood: recovery
from long labor, mind-numbing sleep deprivation, the mysterious times when a gassy
newborn would escalate into hard-bellied screaming. But we were both lucky to
experience the intimacy of breastfeeding, and we took solace in that new
relationship—a kind of falling in love.
me, breastfeeding made every challenge worthwhile. It was also the only part of the pregnancy/childbirth/postpartum
continuum that came easily to me. While pregnant, I struggled with depression
and succumbed to its downward pull during my third trimester. Both my labors
had been long and excruciating and resulted in emergency C-sections.
in bed with a painful abdominal incision, I grieved my lost dream of natural
childbirth. Weepy with
postpartum hormones and exhaustion, I felt I had failed some female rite of
I cradled my baby and fed her, and she grew plump from my milk. Her strong latch
seemed to pull the sadness from my veins.
admit I was proud when my babies grew fat from my body’s sustenance alone. It
was the first miracle my breasts had ever accomplished. Starting with sixth-grade
bra-snapping, I’d felt vaguely ashamed of my small chest. I never daydreamed
about posing for Playboy, but I was thrilled when pregnancy gave me
bubbies. Tasty bubbies!” says my
expressive nursling. I’m flattered. I feel delicious. No lover has ever been as interested in my breasts as
my two babies. My four-year-old (who weaned at 19 months) still grows wide-eyed
when she sees them naked—she wants to touch, kiss, even talk to them. Sometimes
her fascination infuriates me, as does my monkey toddler nursing upside-down,
grazing me with her teeth.
my youngest shows no sign of losing interest, and I want to take my cues from
her. I know I’m holding onto the last vestiges of her babyhood, but when we stop,
it’s forever. There’s no going back. Young children quickly forget how to
nurse, and soon they grow up and out of our arms. So I'll hold onto her as long as she'll let me.