The following guest post is written by Mary Ann from A Cloth Life.
When I became pregnant with G, there was no question that I would breastfeed him. Honestly, the thought didn't even occur to me to use formula. I didn't have anything against it, but it just seemed natural to do... well, what comes naturally. Then, when my son was about 3 months old, I was visiting my parents. I was always discreet while nursing but my grandma, who is VERY young for a great-grandmother made a comment which basically went something like “You're not one of those women that bares her tits out there for everyone to see, are you?” The gist was nursing + in public = unnatural + exhibitionist behavior. When my nephew was born 3 months later, my mother-in-law went on and on to me about how his mother used formula and how great it is and how EVERYONE should use formula instead of nursing. “You can just feed them anywhere and anyone can do it for you.” The message being conveyed repeatedly was that breastfeeding is bothersome, cumbersome, inconvenient, and occasionally even offensive.
By G's first birthday, I was only nursing him at night and something clicked in my head. I decided he was too old to nurse. I had him completely weaned before he was 14 months. When I had my daughter last year, I counted on breastfeeding for the same amount of time – weaning on the same schedule. Because, you know, all your babies are the same, right?
I had a nursing cover and blankets. I could have used them to nurse at the table and still be discreet, but I was concerned with what my parents would think. I was worried that my casual attitude toward breastfeeding would make them uncomfortable. I was afraid of them speaking or even just thinking all the grossly exaggerated stereotypes that people have about natural parenting. To be fair, I should say that my mom did breastfeed my older brother 12 months and myself until I was 6 months. So it’s not like they are anti-breastfeeding. They just have certain expectations for how one should parent.
N turned a year old on July 5th of this year. I still nurse her a few times throughout the day, and as often as she demands at night, but I feel like it's our dirty little secret. I know there is nothing wrong with it. She is seriously still just a baby, but I feel like it's something shameful I don't want people to find out about. Remember all the commentary when Time magazine published their cover story “Are you Mom Enough?” Yeah, I try to stay away as far as I can from controversy. EXTREMELY far away.
Every baby really is different. Somehow, the general public seems to understand this when it comes to us as individual adults, yet babies should all be parented the same. Mother knows best, and Grandma knows even better, and the stranger at the mall knows more than everyone. Except, N likes to nurse. She's a snuggler & a cuddler. She loves that extra one-on-one time. It soothes her. It also feels good in her tummy, apparently, because I am still definitely producing milk that nourishes her, despite what some may argue.
So how do I respond when my husband asks the question “How do you plan on weaning her?” The truth is, I don't. Not at this point at least. For now, I just plan on letting her lead the way, even if I feel like I need to be secretive about it with everyone else. I'll keep introducing fun new foods, and eventually, she'll lose interest in “milkies.” It really isn’t for anyone else to decide or judge anyway, but it should be normal. I mean, we should let moms know it is normal, because it is.
Mary Ann is a SAHM who blogs about two gorgeous kids, a messy home, and cloth diapers at A Cloth Life. She has visions of a time when she’ll actually be able to finish a project, any project, in one sitting. For now, she’s enjoying the joys and chaos of having young children. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.