Were you wondering? Yes, I’m still breastfeeding Landon. But I have a new rule to nudge him toward weaning (see box below).
Why am I going public with this? Because I’m not ashamed of it. Because I’m glad I can still breastfeed him after struggling so much in the beginning. Because I don’t care that some people might think that it’s odd — those are the people I want to educate about extended breastfeeding.
What kind of lactivist would I be if I would hide? This is what activism is about, this is what you have to do to evoke change: you have to be willing to put yourself out there.
I’m not hurting anyone with extended breastfeeding. I’ve done the research, trust me — I wouldn’t still do it if it was in any way harmful to my son. And just because some people could never imagine nursing a child this long, that doesn’t mean my parenting decisions are wrong. They are just what works for us.
What I care about is the mom who is relieved to read that she’s not alone, that there is another mom out there who breastfeeds an older child. What I care about is encouraging other moms to follow their gut when parenting and to care less about what other people think.
What I care about is getting the word out that the World Health Organization now recommends breastfeeding for a minimum of 2 years. Extended breastfeeding doesn’t even start before that.
I want people to meet me and see that I’m just a normal mom who happens to breastfeed an older child.
Believe me, I’m ready for him to wean. It’s been a wonderful five years, but it’s time. On the other hand, whenever I think, “Okay, it’s enough already,” something happens that makes me so glad that L’s still nursing a little bit:
When my father died recently, I had to go to Germany without L for two weeks. Afterward, he was extremely clingy and needed a lot of reassurance that I wasn’t going to leave him again, plus he started kindergarten, which was a big change he had to adjust to.
If I would have forced him to also give up nursing, that would have been too much change at one time. Instead, I was able to give him that one constant comfort he has been able to rely on for five years, and it helped him so much to get over the separation anxiety and to get used to kindergarten. He isn’t clingy anymore, and he is enjoying kindergarten now.
Three days ago L scratched his cornea, and instead of giving him antibiotic drops to heal his eye, I put a few drops of breast milk in it. And voila, it healed just beautifully in just one day. The eye doctor was amazed.
I started this discussion in the Million Moms Challenge community:
Would you breastfeed for 5 years if you could? How long would be your max?