Welcome to the May Carnival of Breastfeeding! This month participants share stories related to breastfeeding (see entries at the end of this post). My story represents the end of the story — how it turns out when a mother practices extended breastfeeding.
When I had my first daughter, I fumbled my way around until I found my parenting style. It happened naturally. I couldn’t stand to hear my baby cry; what mother can? So I breastfed her on cue, wore her in a sling, and co-slept with her in my bed. Those things worked for me, my husband, and my baby. They continued to work for us, and we identified ourselves more and more with an “attachment parenting” philosophy.Early on I heard whispers that my parenting style surprised and even worried others. The really bold people, the ones who thought they were doing me a favor by commenting on my parenting, harangued me with any number of myths: “You’re spoiling that baby by picking her up every time she cries! If you carry her everywhere she’ll never want to be put down! She needs to cry to exercise her lungs!” Sometimes I smiled and nodded and promptly ignored the advice. Sometimes I offered information and opinion. It depended on the person and the situation.
As my daughter got older and older, the admonitions became more urgent: “She won’t be able to separate from you. She’ll be clingy. You’re holding her back and making her dependent upon you.” Then came the disapproving looks and the stories that weren’t addressed to me but were meant for my ears. The message was clear: “Extended breastfeeding is wrong and you are harming your child.”
Well, let’s fast forward to the end of the story. My first “baby” is now a 7-year-old. She went to preschool after she turned three, and she didn’t shed a tear on the first day of school. I prepared her for the milestone and she separated from me easily. And guess what, she was “still” nursing at that time. I can assure you that her lungs work just fine. She is a happy, social, empathetic child, and I dare say that’s because of — not in spite of — attachment parenting.
As a new mother I was not armed with the information or ability to tell the naysayers that they were wrong. All I could do was listen to my instincts. I’d silently say, “Just you wait and see. The time will come when you realize that my way is not the wrong way. It might not be right for you, but it is right for me and my children.” That time has come, and look at that, I have a blog that lets me say a big fat “I told you so.” I say that “I told you so” not in the hope of reaching those who doubted me, but in the hope of reaching any other mothers who are struggling with naysayers. Listen to your instincts. Not only will you and your child benefit now from breastfeeding, but you will continue to reap the rewards long afterwards, and I won’t blame you one bit if you utter an “I told you so.”
Stay Tuned for Additional Carnival Entries:
Strocel.com: The Story of Hannah’s Weaning
Baby Carriers Down Under: Traveling to Kandy, Sri Lanka
Laura’s Blog: Weaning a Toddler
Stepping off the Spaceship: Life, Death and Nourishment
So Fawned: Sticking with It
Mommy News Blog: How Breastfeeding Changed My Life
All That Sazz: Flying Breast Milk
GrudgeMom: Breastfeeding Failures and Success
Massachusetts Friends of Midwives: Ben’s Story, The Best Breastfeeding Advice from the Least Likely Source
BreastfeedingMums: Breastfeeding Made Me the Mother I Am
Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: “They Said the Latch Was Fine”
Chronicles of a Nursing Mom: Breastfeeding Is Not Easy
Breastfeeding Moms Unite: Can Early Public Breastfeeding Sightings Shape One’s Future Breastfeeding Practices?
The Towells: Breastfeeding after Breast Reduction
Zen_Mommy: Celebrating . . . My Chest!
Blacktating: Nursing in Public
Crystal Gold: A Found Memory