I know, I know. The Time magazine cover showing Jamie Lynne Grumet breastfeeding her almost-four-year-old son is so last week, but, while I won’t weigh in on the supposed controversy surrounding it, it does make an interesting segue into a topic I’ve been thinking about over these past couple months:
I can totally see why one would be reluctant to stop nursing at six months or a year or whenever seems like the norm in your world.
I don’t say that because of the health benefits, although the antibodies and nutrition breast milk provides are awesome. I’m talking about the emotional benefits to breastfeeding.
I’ve gotten to the point in my breastfeeding adventure where it’s actually really easy and enjoyable. I love the time I spend just sitting snuggled up with Corban nursing. He is so content, and it’s relaxing for us both. I love how I am instantly able to both comfort and nourish him, and when I get home from work it’s so nice to unwind with a little quiet one-on-one time (after a bunch of playing if I get home early enough).
I plan to continue nursing until he is somewhere around a year old (of course we’ll just have to see how things go and figure out what’s right for us – and I know everything will be way different at that age), but thinking about ending our nursing relationship does make me a little weepy.
It’s funny, because in the beginning breastfeeding was not enjoyable for me. It was physically challenging, painful and taxing, and therefore emotionally frustrating.
I am so glad I persisted despite not understanding how in the world anyone enjoyed it and how it could possibly get easier. As Corban grew, we both got better at it and nursing sessions became shorter and less frequent. Now that we have it down, we both enjoy not just the food aspect of it (him: getting fed; me: having food instantly ready any time, anywhere when we’re together), but the closeness we get to share while nursing. Having five or more snuggle sessions built into our day (when I’m not working) no longer feels like a burden, but a really sweet bonding time. This is especially true now that I’m working and away from him 2-3 days a week.
So while I don’t see myself doing extended nursing, and I understand why people are creeped out by seeing an older kid at the breast, I also understand why, from a bonding standpoint, one would want to continue as long as the child still desires. Grumet, the girl on the cover of Time, says she remembers her mom nursing her at age six and it felt like “a hug.” That’s how it feels right now for me and I love the thought that Corban feels that too even at his young age.