Thursday, September 8, 2011

Breastfeeding at 16 Months

I didn't expect I'd still be breastfeeding at this point. It all started when someone told me that the WHO recommended two years of breastfeeding, which changed my reference point. I'm all about international standards, even though I like to feel superior to large multinationals. Anyway, so my resident hippy friends were surprised, I went back to fact check, and WHO recommends no such thing. The wording is hedgy. Right? Or it's unintentional ambiguity? Either way, I'm still breastfeeding. Quite a lot.

My position: On the one hand, breastfeeding is great for babies. On the other hand, if it's past a year and it's not great for moms any more, it's time to stop. But I'm usually out of touch with my feelings, so I have no idea if I like it or not. I am sick and tired of nursing bras and the fact that pretty much everyone in Boston (and several hundred in South Africa, Korea, and Mexico) has seen my breasts. But I like that it stops Noah screaming. I like that he relaxes when I get home from work. I like that I don't have to run after him shouting "no" for a little while. Or run away screaming because he's got incredibly accurate with his little spray bottle. My house doesn't sound zen, does it? Well IT IS. OK?? IT IS.

Noah doesn't talk, and while he's pretty good at making his feelings known, it feels like part of breastfeeding is communicating. There's also the advantage of having a pre-verbal child in that he hasn't been able to name my breasts or anything creepy like that. Though maybe if he did I'd find it cute. Stranger things have happened the past 16 months.

So here's the current plan. Breastfeed until we reach South Africa-- it greatly simplifies travel not to buy milk or stress too much about water safety (Noah just won't drink the water if when we have concerns). Then, move him into His Own Room. And be Big. Or not.

He IS night-weaned, which has helped a lot with Eug and my sleep.  I wasn't sure how we would do that, given that he sleeps on a mattress right next to our mattress, and just comes and gets what he needs when he needs it. It turned out he was ready. One night of sad pointing at his mouth sleepily, and he was more or less fine with the new order.

I'm learning to treat Noah as an actual person, not a puppy I need to train. Which is surprisingly hard. Anyone else surprised by how hard that is? Every time I read a parenting book, I feel like a puppy trainer again: babies work like this, so you need to do this to get them to do that. Sometimes the books help me understand his developmental stage, which is very helpful. But trying to get Noah to be a certain way so that he fits the mould of good child, and I of good parent, is doomed.

Anyway, so I've been finding the prayer "can I be the best parent to this child?" helpful, because in the end I don't have to be a great parent in general, I just have to do right by Noah. With supernatural help, and hopefully some forgiveness from Noah later on.

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