From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 19 No. 1, January-February 2002, p. 8
Breastfeeding has been a special experience for my son, Kyle, and me. We've had our share of little difficulties, but overall I've loved the experience. It seems amazing that such a short time ago, there was no baby in our family and now he is such a large part of our lives. Nursing has always been a big part of that. I cherish the time I spend nursing and holding my sleeping infant, thinking about his beauty or wondering what color his hair will turn out to be. There are many walks around the block with Kyle in a front carrier or a sling. It has really been a privilege to nurture my child and watch him grow.
Kyle is 15 months now. He continues to nurse on demand and fall asleep at the breast when he is tired. We both enjoy snuggling in bed for those quiet nighttime nursings. This system works out very well for us. I love to see his little body relax into mine and know how much he appreciates nursing. While reading MOTHERING YOUR NURSING TODDLER, by Norma Jane Bumgarner (may be available from the LLLI Online Store), I remember thinking of all the special moments yet to come.
Often I had wondered what nursing a toddler would be like. The experience does not differ all that much from nursing a younger baby. Kyle still benefits from a nutritional standpoint and nursing fills his sucking and cuddling needs. From my perspective, nursing an older baby is delightful. He lets me know when he needs to nurse. Sometimes he tells me, "nana," or he gently tugs on my shirt. Other times he seems tired or upset and I know that nursing will help. Just yesterday he was playing along with our neighborhood children outside and did not seem to check on my presence at all. Then all of a sudden he looked up, came over to me, and wanted to be held. I could tell he needed some "mommy time" and we went in and he nursed to sleep.
On the Fourth of July we had a scary experience. We were on our way to a neighbor's house for a barbecue. Kyle was on his ride-on toy. Hearing the wheels stop, I looked over to find him face down with the toy on top of him. I lifted him up and cuddled him. His lip and face were bleeding from scraping the asphalt. My husband found a clean cloth in our backpack to stop the bleeding as we headed back home. From the first moment I picked Kyle up with tears streaming down his face, he was looking for my breast. It reminded me of a newborn rooting. As soon as we walked inside I offered my breast. Kyle nursed and quieted immediately. Because he had injured his mouth, I was a little concerned about his ability to nurse, but that did not slow him down at all. As he nursed, I explained to him about the "bump" on his face and applied ice to his lip. He looked at me with such trusting eyes and seemed to know it was going to be all right. As he drifted off to sleep, I cleaned his scrapes and felt so glad that we were still nursing.
People sometimes ask if I miss my little baby and mention how fast children seem to grow. I understand this, but I love watching Kyle's development. It is through nursing and watching him sleep in my lap that I still see a little baby every day. He is quite independent in his play and he wants to learn to do things by himself, but I'm still very much needed by him.
Living in today's society, it is difficult for many parents to listen to their instincts about caring for their children. Fortunately there are La Leche League Group meetings for sharing with others who have similar parenting values. The Group Library and LLL Catalogue are also excellent references. Two books I have found particularly helpful are The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears and Attachment Parenting by Katie Granju, which reaffirm what I know in my heart.
It is such a wonderful feeling, knowing I can provide so much for Kyle through breastfeeding. At this point I cannot imagine the day when we are not nursing, nor do I see it in our near future. I look forward to a gradual, natural weaning, but in the meantime I will continue to enjoy our special nursing relationship.