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Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Monday, October 22, 2007

This I Believe - The Things Worth Doing in Life are Hard

Welcome to the latest Carnival of Breastfeeding! This month's topic is a spin on the NPR's "This I Believe" series of essays. You'll find my post here followed by links to other participants in the carnival.

There's a phrase I remind myself of when the going gets rough.

"The things most worth doing in life are hard."

Maybe it's because I'm such a Robert Frost fan, maybe it's become I come from a very long line of "work as hard as you have to to make it work" types. Either way, I firmly believe in taking risks, making mistakes, committing myself and seeing it through the long haul.

I look back on the things I've done that were the hardest and I find they are the things I'm most happy to have accomplished. Working my way through college to avoid taking loans, taking on jobs I wasn't fully qualified for, being married for seven years, working to build a business while staying home with my kids...breastfeeding.

Yes, breastfeeding.

There are a ton of moms out there who will tell you how easy breastfeeding is. That it's so much simpler than bottle feeding. That "the first few weeks are tough, but once you have the hang of it, it's easy!"

Maybe it is for them. It's not for me.

Sure, after a rough first week I sailed through the next six months, but once I got past the six month mark breastfeeding became incredibly difficult.

Combine a child who won't take a bottle (or sippy cup) with a child who doesn't sleep through the night. Then throw in an early teether who doesn't bite, but enjoys a nice game of Gumby-nipple and you have a not-quite-so-pleasant experience.

In fact, as I noted in my post "The Dark Side of Breastfeeding," nursing isn't all warm cuddly babies and blissful milk grins. I imagine some of my regular readers have wondered how things have been going since I wrote that post. It's really the last personal update on breastfeeding I've posted here. (Though I really will get a reflection on a year of breastfeeding up.)

The truth is, it hasn't gotten much better. After ages of aiming for 18 months of nursing, I'm now actively (but slowly) working to wean Emmitt. I simply cannot take it any more. For me, for our family, breastfeeding is HARD.

Would I do it again if I had another child?

In a heartbeat.

I know I'll look back on breastfeeding and be so thankful I did it. Getting breastmilk into Emmitt for a full year (and counting) has been one of the things I'm most proud of as a parent. It's also been one of the hardest things I've done as a parent.

My readers know I don't sugar-coat breastfeeding in an attempt to make it more attractive to moms who are still making up their minds. I do this because I know how difficult it can be. I also know how many times I sat here wondering why it was "so much easier" for everyone else.

I got through by reminding myself that not every mom has it so easy. Sometimes the ones who have a hard time with it just aren't as vocal. I also got through by reminding myself that the things worth doing in life are often the most difficult.

Breastfeeding is a wonderful, fulfilling and healthy thing for a mother and child.

But it's not always easy.

To new moms thinking of breastfeeding or already struggling with it, I say this:

You aren't alone in wondering if you can make it. Many moms have been exactly where you are now. You'll have good days and bad days. Blissful days of milk smiles and twirling fingers and tear-inducing days of screaming frustration. You'll thank the heavens for being able to settle a baby in the middle of the night without making a bottle and you'll pull out your hair wondering when you might ever get a free minute to yourself again.

Remind yourself that breastfeeding may well be the first really difficult thing you do as a parent. Instead of using that as a reason to avoid it, embrace it. Parenting is a life-long journey that will ask you to stretch yourself beyond what you thought possible time and time again. You'll walk your children through bullies, first loves, broken hearts, frustrations with Algebra (maybe that was just me) and many more things. (That's if you're lucky...otherwise things will be even harder.)

Parenting is hard. Living life is hard. Look at breastfeeding as practice for the challenges of parenting that will follow.

Is it hard? It sure can be.

Is it worth it? Most definitely.

Check Out the Other Carnival Entries

Sinead at Breastfeeding Mums believes Education is the key to breastfeeding success
Half Pint Pixie writes Breastfeeding is natural but it sure isn't easy
Angela at Breastfeeding 1-2-3 believes in gentle discipline
Ashley at Such Great Heights points out you don't have to be a nursing mom to support breastfeeding
Tanya over at the Motherwear Blog says she believes in trusting her instincts
Amy at Crunch Domestic Goddess (who by the way is one of my favorite posters from the other end of the political spectrum) joins Tanya as a big believer in natural parenting instincts.

(More to come...)

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Evenflo Buys Ameda, Becomes WHO Code Compliant

Check this out!

In a press release issued to announce their purchase of Ameda, Evenflow also says:

Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes. The WHO Code was created in 1981 as a guide for marketing practices of infant formula, bottle and nipple manufacturers to ensure that breast milk substitutes, feeding bottles and nipples are not marketed inappropriately.

As part of its pledge, Evenflo will immediately take the following three steps: 1) discontinue all bottle/nipple advertising directed to consumers; 2) change our feeding packaging to align with WHO Code guidelines; and 3) remove bottle/nipple images from our Web site. At the same time, Evenflo will continue to innovate in its core bottle and nipple products, and work closely with retail partners to ensure broad-scale availability for moms who do not breastfeed or do not breastfeed exclusively. Ameda already meets all the requirements of the WHO Code.

This is absolutely fantastic news. Evenflo becomes the first U.S. bottle manufacturer to be code compliant.

Want to do something positive to impact corporations and the support of breastfeeding? Consider switching your products to Evenflo products. More importantly, send Evenflo a letter to let them know what you switched and WHY. Even more importantly than that...send a letter to the company you switched FROM letting them to know as well.

Good job Evenflo!


Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

I'm Alive

Sorry folks. I've had some emails from people telling me I need to at least post an "I'm Alive" post on here.

I am. So are the kids and Greg and everyone else in the family.

Just have some private things going on making it difficult to post. I'll be back soon, I promise.


Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Monday, October 08, 2007

A Treatise (Almost) On Nursing a Toddler (Not from Me)

Aside: That may be my record for most uses of parenthesis in a post title...

Now that I'm nursing a toddler myself (Emmitt's over a year and he walks, I guess that makes him a toddler, right?) I'm interested in seeing how my thoughts and opinions have changed over the years.

I remember when I had wrapped up pumping with Elnora (at 13 months) and was writing this blog. My best friend and her cousin were over and somehow the subject of toddler nursing came up. As someone who swore she'd only nurse to six months while pregnant with my first, I had to laugh when I heard those familiar phrases pop out of their mouths.

"If they're old enough to ask for it, they're too old to nurse."
"If they can walk, they should be done breastfeeding."
"I just don't get that, nursing a two year old is gross."

They weren't being malicious, they were mostly just repeating things they'd heard over the years. Neither had kids and I was the first of their friends to venture into baby rearing and breastfeeding.

It was funny to find myself defending toddler nursing and trying to educate them on a few points.

"Well, Elnora didn't talk until she was around two, so I guess that was her cut-off age?" (said with a wink.)

"Then again, she walked at 10 months, so I guess I should have weaned sooner? Would have sucked to have had to pay for formula those last two months."

"Did you ever stop to think that you don't just suddenly nurse a two year old. You nurse a baby who grows older day by day. On what specific day does it suddenly become "gross?"

They thought about it for a minute.

"But it just seems so weird!"

I pointed out that sure, it was weird, because we don't see it very often. Then again, it happens far more often than they'd ever imagine and really...there's NOTHING wrong with it.

It struck me as funny to hear how my own opinions had changed. I still couldn't picture myself nursing a toddler, but I had absolutely zero issues with it if someone else was doing it. (I get a little uncomfortable with the idea when the kid is approaching school age, but hey, to each their own.)

That's why I was interested to read a post over at Compulsive Writer this week called "Nursing Toddlers is the New Black." In it, occasional Lactivist commenter Azucar shares her own experience of nursing a toddler and points out that she did it long before Gwen Stefani made it "cool."

When I told my mom and dad that I was planning on going until El Guille was at least two they were pleased. I kind of joked with my dad that at least Guille would stop by the time he went to school. "Why? The longer, the better." said my dad, quite seriously. School age is a little over the line, for me anyway. My in-laws weren't as openly supportive. My mother-in-law thought it was a little strange, but she's a really good person who believes that I'm the mother and I make the best decisions for my babies. I love her for that.

Some people think that when you're nursing a toddler it's like nursing a newborn: every two hours and time intensive. It's not at all. For us, we nursed twice a day, occasionally three times, from age 16 months to 22 months. At 22 months, he refused to sit still and wanted to play first thing, not nurse. Hey! Fine by me! We kept our bedtime nursing for the next seven months. He gradually slowed down, dropping a session here and there: he went to every other day, to twice a week, then once, and then it was over. El Guille weaned himself: no tears, no drama, and no big deal. So much for the "If you don't wean before a year they'll NEVER stop" crowd. He stopped when he was ready, and that's what I wanted for him.

It was a great post, I found myself nodding along in agreement. I may not feel like long term toddler nursing is for me, but I do wish people were a little more understanding of the choice and respected the mothers who decide to follow their children's cues on the issue.

She wraps it up with a great point:

Here's the deal: until moms start coming out of that back bedroom and telling other people, extended nursing is going to seem strange. There's nothing wrong with nursing into childhood, it's how humans were biologically designed. I know it's not for everyone, but it is natural. I want other women to understand that it's ok to listen to your heart and make decisions that might seem unusual to other Americans.

I've honestly been amazed to find out how many people I know who have nursed toddlers in the last year or so. When I was growing up, the only time I'd ever heard of it was the "crazy mom" down the street who was a LLLL and nursed her boys until they were 3 or 4. I stand by my opinion that she was a little "off" though I no longer think the toddler nursing is cause for that judgement. ;)

It's been especially interesting to learn about extended nursers in my industry. My regular readers know I travel quite a bit speaking at conferences and seminars and teaching small businesses about online marketing. My work with the Lactivist has led to a ton of interesting discussions with folks I've known professionally for years. I remember doing a radio interview last year and finding out that the wife of someone I respect immensely was still night-nursing their 2.5 year old. I've had emails from readers of my industry site sharing their stories and of course conversation about "what I do for a living" has led perfect strangers to share their own stories.

Heck, one of my regular commenters here (Hi Abby!) is a woman I've known through church for years. I had no idea she was a staunch breastfeeding proponent or a supporter of toddler nursing until she showed up here and started sharing her thoughts.

It's out there. People are nursing well past a year. Not very many of them, but far more than you'd imagine.

So what about you guys? How many of you still have issues with toddler nursing and are willing to fess up? How many of you have found yourself supporting it (or doing it) after years of spouting off lines like I listed above?

What changed your mind?

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments: