Thursday, February 3, 2011

Nursing a Toddler

This seems to be a topic on my mind and of discussion a lot lately.  Then after reading this great article Breastfeeding until Age 3,4,5 or more on I couldn't resist sharing my story thus far.

I always knew I would breastfeed and I always knew I would practice "child-led weaning" where basically the child decides when he/she is ready to wean.  But what I didn't know is what nursing a baby over the age of 1year old would be like.  For the most part I love nursing.  I love that Liliana still wants that special time during the day and night where it's just her and me.  Sometimes she plays more than not and sometimes I find that humorous and sometimes I don't.  One thing I know is that Liliana's nursing is teaching me patience and teaching me the value of what "extended nursing" is doing for our relationship.  I understand that it's not for everyone and have questioned myself at times, but I know that we will not stop until both of us are mutually ready.  There have been times recently when I have been frustrated by night-nursing.  It can be wearing on me and I find my irritibility a little more high when I haven't slept well. But in the last couple of days I have come to peace with it again.  I always remind myself how soon it will be that Liliana will be off all the time too busy for all the mami time, so I want to savor our "special" moments.

One of the great things about nursing a toddler is when she is throwing a tantrum or upset, she can sit down and have "chi chi" to calm down.  Sometimes she is too wrapped up in her tantrum to even nurse, but when she does, it's an instant calm.  The other thing is that Liliana has never eaten a whole lot.  She grazes all day long so I guess it's hard to tell, but she's always been on the smaller side.  I feel confident in the fact that I know she is getting a lot of what she needs from breastmilk, though she does still take her supplements and loves to!

The thing I loved the most when I first visited El Salvador was how open everyone is about nursing.  Most women nurse their babies and toddlers and it's not a big deal.  Nobody wears cover-ups to be discreet and noone is ashamed of nursing and they shouldn't be!  It's so different than how a lot of women feel in the States where I still get looks on the plane for nursing and get comments from family.

But here is what has been interesting lately;  One of our aunt's here in ES has 8 children and nursed them all.  Her youngest is a couple months older than Liliana.  He recently stopped nursing and since then, my MIL seems to think it's now time for Liliana to stop as well.  That's fine.  They can have their opinions, but that part that bugs me is that my MIL is constantly telling Liliana how yucky "chi chi" is and how it has poo poo and other yucky stuff on it.  Thank god Liliana doesn't buy into it, though she did cry the first few times her abuela told her that.  Now she just says "no, abuela" and continues to nurse.  There are lots of other cousins (3 and 4 years old) in the family still nursing so I know it's very common here and nobody looks at me funny anywhere we go still, it's just this idea my MIL seems to have gotten in her head.  And like most things that happen here, I am told to "let it go."  This seems to be where my blog comes in!  Here I get to write whatever I want and feel good about my choices as a mother.  I don't think I'm perfect, but to Liliana I am and that's all that matters to me.

Liliana and I will continue our nursing relationship until we are ready to stop and I will keep you posted when that will be.  She is currently 26 months old and going strong!  I love that this is the one place Eduardo really feels he has no control over and doesn't really bother me about it at all.  Ha!!

Yes, nursing a toddler can test your nerves and be frustrating, but it can also be rewarding.  As long as we both have mutual respect for the relationship it will continue.  I know especially in the States, nursing a toddler is "taboo", but there are so many women out there that are doing it and not saying anything.  How sad is that?  Women feel they have to hide their breastfeeding?!  This will be added to a future post about why I'm not sure how I feel about my own country anymore.

Happy Breastfeeding!!

Taking a break to nurse on the beach!


Jackie said...

I'm sorry to read what your mother-in-law says to Liliana about nursing. I think it's a personal decision that needs to be respected.

Evelyn Alas said...

I love this part!!! Xavier is the same way he calls it "ti ti" and everyone here tells him the same but he just dosent care about it and continues his titi time!!