It has been...well, too long.
Hopefully, I won't let this much time between posts lapse again. I've been wanting to get online to write, but alas, too much do, not enough think.
A few things of interest, and then down to business:
- We just got back from a fantastic vacation up north on Portage Lake with Charlie's family. Caught fish, loved on our nephews and watched as the babies had fun playing together, roasted marshmallows, took boat rides, purchased Lydia a life jacket and fun bath toy...you know. Good old cabin-up-north type of stuff.
- I just recovered from having a Bartholin abscess. Google it, it's too painful to go into any details. I will say this: it isn't something I would wish on anyone except Michelle Bachmann (oops, I always said I wouldn't make this blog political...:P) It was worse than my 2nd degree tear after Lydia was born in terms of mobility and general feelings of well-being.
- Charlie and I have been well, albeit busy. Both of us have made significant career moves; he quit Sturdevant's and is now on a welding/finishing crew for Hadley Steel, and I am the new Director of Environmental Education out at Shetek Lutheran Ministries this summer. Schwing! The best part is that I can bring Lydia with me to work. She rides either in our LL Bean backpack or on front in my Snuggli while I'm busy yelling game instructions and teaching kids about macroinvertebrates and the water cycle. She comes home bushed, and loves going to camp to see everyone and breathe the outdoors in. I've been having a neighbor girl watch her in the mornings so I can get a few things done, but it's so nice having her at work with me (what a luxury to be able to nurse whenever and keep track of her out there!
Lately I've been doing more reading about nursing older (i.e. 8+months) babies, from now until toddlerhood. It's always been my goal to nurse Lydia as much as, and as long as, I can. Whether she leads the weaning part of our nursing relationship or I do, I want it to be on the best of terms...I'm not a cold turkey person! A few of the questions I've had seemed like they were simple enough to answer, but after reading from source after source, I'm almost more confused than when I started researching. So far she seems content and super healthy, so I'm not especially worried that my experimentation with time between nursings and monitoring ounces as best I can will affect her negatively in some way. Rather, I'm being extra vigilant because I don't want her to miss out on one drop of nutritional and emotional benefit from my continued breastfeeding.
The World Health Organization strongly suggests that women breastfeed for over two years. This is more than normal in many nations. The United States has one of the lowest breastfeeding retention rates in the world; by six months old, only 14% of infants in the US are being exclusively breastfed, showing a sharp decrease after the child turns one. With all evidence showing that breastfeeding is ideal for optimal growth in babies physically, mentally, and emotionally for up to a year, this is a staggering statistic to me. The American Academy of Pediatrics also acknowledges the benefits of and encourages extended breastfeeding, and recommends that mothers nurse their babies for more than a year.
"Hot" as it is in terms of being known for controversial means of education, the La Leche League serves as an excellent research and education organization; their book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding has been my saving grace ever since Lydia was born. I've since passed on my copy to another mother, and now give it as a gift along with a boobie care basket at baby showers (provided the mama-to-be has already talked to me about wanting to breastfeed, otherwise that'd be a little presumptuous on my part). One of their many sections is dedicated to educating mothers and breastfeeding supporters alike on the topics of nursing older babies and toddlers. My opinion is that women sustaining a long breastfeeding relationship is ideal; however, the process is wholly unsupported by the general US society today. As soon as babies are born we begin wondering about weaning them. We're forced to start thinking about solids, cereal, bottles...it gets to be too much, and mothers are left wondering if they're depriving their child of vitamins and minerals because they made the decision to exclusively nurse till their baby's six months old. Research shows that exclusively breastfeeding for six months is the best way to guarantee the maximum amount of benefits for the child. After six months, babies are usually more than ready to start solids, and can begin to learn about food. Lydia never made it six months. At three months she ate gravy (:P) and we started her on solids around 5 months old, maybe a tad younger. She was avidly interested in food by that time.
But nursing has never left my top priorities with her...she still wants to nurse for both comfort and food, something I am more than happy to oblige. Weaning gradually, and with love, will ensure that both of us receive the best from the experience. There are MANY reasons mothers are told they MUST quit nursing (societal pressures, medication use and medical issues, child development myths, returning to work, etc), but we as mothers and concerned lactivists must be ready and willing to support mothers in their rights to breastfeed as long as they and their children desire.