In honor of World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August 2009), I have decided to share with you a few funny anecdotes from my memories of nursing three boys.
I nursed all three of my boys, the longest being around 18 months. I am all for breastfeeding, and yet, I realize different families have different needs. I applaud the working mother who provides her infant with those vital six weeks of initial nutrition, while I support the right of the mother who chooses to nurse her child far beyond the time that felt right for me. There are plenty of posts you can read if you are looking for reasons to nurse your children, or even to bottle-feed them. I shall assume that readers who have gotten this far are breastfeeding mothers or supportive friends, and I will provide you now with a bit of humor.
I nursed my firstborn for only a few months. He was breast- and bottle-fed, but he doesn't remember any of this, and assumes, as he can only remember seeing his little brothers and cousins being nursed, that, of course, that's how babies are fed. When my second child, J, was less than a year old, we went to have family photos made at a Sears store in our local mall. A mother in the waiting area was feeding her child from a bottle. H, around six years old at the time, was mesmerized. I vaguely remember trying to call his attention to other things, but he was only interested in this baby eating out of a glass device. When I finally got him settled back with the family, he told me with evident respect,"That baby is only six months old and already he knows how to drink out of a bottle!"
And much more recently: A sample pack of formula from WalMart showed up in our mailbox. I saved it knowing that my cousin was planning to return to work, and figuring on saving her some money. This canister of baby formula caught the attention of my youngest, who asked many eager questions about it. I even found him playing with it a few times, pretending to sell it in his "store." I decided the time had come to explain what was in the canister. I told him that some mothers could not nurse their babies, and so they bought artificial baby milk at the grocery store. His response, which I will never forget,"Wow. They must have a lot of extra money."
One last story. This one may not be funny, but if you have read this far, please keep it up. It will be worth your extra minute. I nursed my second child, J, until I was 4 or 5 months along with B, and my breasts became so sore, I had to wean him. J was old enough by this time to remember nursing, which he called "nu-nu." Even when B was born, he still remembered nursing to some extent. A couple of days after B was born, J crawled into my lap and said clearly, "I want nu-nu." He was so small, barely past two. Even though he had been weaned for months, I offered him my breast. He barely even tried to nurse. He snuggled into my chest and breathed a heavy sigh as I rocked him in the rocking chair. I don't know how long I held him there and rocked him, without nursing him. He came to me regularly over the next few weeks (or months, my memory is not the best) asking for nu-nu. I no longer tried to nurse him, but held him close and rocked him, and gave him exactly what he had asked me for.