Are you still nursing?
I get this question a lot. Depending on the speaker, the tone, inflection and/or accompanying look can vary widely. The reason I get this question regularly is because my boys, who are both still nursing, are three and a half and seventeen (17) months. Neither are babies any longer and we talk about nursing, my body, their bodies, and setting limits. Yes, we can talk about it because they are old enough to “ask for it.”
No, I never intended to nurse this long and endure all of the nuisances that go along with pumping and dealing with milk storage and leaking and fighting to find the space and time to do what I have committed to do for my children. It hasn’t been easy or smooth and I’ve considered quitting many times.
I work full time and have experienced a fair amount of judgment for that choice too. I’m a lawyer and convincing Judges, the Court system, seminar locations, clients, other attorneys, etc. to give me the ability to mother in this way has been a challenge at times. Like it or not, the world in which we live is often male-dominated, male-driven and those of us women who ask for accommodations are not always popular or welcome.
So, why do I still nurse my boys? And why will I continue to nurse them until they are ready to wean?
Because I have a relationship with my boys and nursing is an important part of that relationship. My nursing relationship with my boys and nurturing them go hand in hand for me and informs how I enter into mothering with everything that I have and I am. These relationships have taken work. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to fight for what I’ve committed to do and there have been some dark moments and pain, physical and psychological—nursing aversion is no joke and there are no words to adequately described dry nursing through pregnancy.
Yet, we’ve persevered. Make no mistake, I don’t judge any mom who chooses whatever method they deem most appropriate to feed their child(ren). It is a deeply personal choice and can only be made by the parents and children within that relationship.
Nursing is part of how I mother my boys and I’ve never felt more connected to them or more empowered as a women when I am able to nourish them from my own body. We will continue connecting in this way so long as it makes sense for me and my family. Anyone can ask me as many times as they want “are you still nursing?” in whatever tone they want to use and my answer will remain the same.
If you are struggling with nursing or are considering weaning or need help, please consider the following resources that have helped me:
- International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in your area. Look out for this specific designation as it means a great deal.
- Mothering Your Nursing Toddler (book published by the La Leche League)—this helped me tremendously as my boys have gotten older.
- GetPUMPed! — local milk sharing organization where I’ve donated milk and serve on the Board.
Guest post by ABIGAIL M. JOHNSTON