Some change.
March 30, 2011

Is she sleeping?, an older woman asks as she takes a seat beside me.  We’re standing under a tree, facing a flurry of playground activity.  Children are swinging around like banshees.  I love this noise; it makes me smile.  Because it is cold, Charlotte is in a carrier and I’ve pulled the hood over her head to protect her ears, but she isn’t sleeping.  I’m breastfeeding her.

No, I tell her.  I’m nursing her.  The woman smiles politely.  How old is she?, she inquires.

For a moment, I think about lying.  I am not ashamed.  I am tired of the raised eyebrows and the looks of disapproval and people telling me how I need to parent my child.  But I tell her the truth.

20 months, I say.

She looks surprised and then she looks excited.  That’s amazing!, the woman says.  THUMBS UP!  HIGH FIVES!  GO MAMA!  I nursed my babies until they were all at least three.  My youngest nursed all through kindergarten.

Back in the day, she continues, my friends and I all breastfed our babies.  I was one of the first members of La Leche League where I lived!  We thought we were changing the world.  But nowadays, it’s just so rare for me to see anyone nursing at all.

She looks sad.  Some change, she says.

I think about it for a moment, not really certain what to say.

Keep it up, she says.  I’m sure you get weird looks all the time, but I don’t even know you and I’m proud of you.  People can be awful.  When it’s right for you and your baby to wean, you’ll know.

The silence is awkward again and then I speak up.  You know, I say, I think women like you did change the world.  It’s just, it’s like dropping a rock in a river.  You can’t always see how far the ripples travel.

It sounds painfully corny coming out and I grimace, but she sort of smiles and sort of chuckles and sort of nods her head.  We chatter back and forth for awhile longer.  We talk about her breastfeeding days and my breastfeeding goals and, because this is what unites us, we share breastfeeding stories.  Eventually the conversation peters out.  Then we linger in silence, watching the children hooting and hollering and running around on the jungle gym, and my toddler nurses on.


Related Posts with Thumbnails
twitter / becomingsarah Bookmark and Share


  1. By Christy on March 30, 2011

    I high five you too :)

  2. By Momiss on March 30, 2011

    Perfect.  Just perfect.  One of the things I am still angry about is how they discouraged women from nursing in order to sell formula.  I’m most angry and the women who swallowed that crap. 
    You go girl, you are making circles yourself!  So proud of you!

  3. By christy on March 30, 2011

    I think it is funny how she things it is rare to see a young mom nursing.  It is 100% opposite in the part of the country I live in.  My 80 yr old grandma finds nursing hard to comprehend.  She and her sisters are overly concerned about my child and if he’s getting enough to eat / growing.  Back when they had their kids (1950’s), they were pretty much told not to nurse and give formula (but she didn’t call it formula actually).  Nursing is waaay more common place now around here now-a-days.

  4. By on March 30, 2011

    My girl is 22mths old and I am still nursing too. The only diff is I work full time so she eats solids throughout the day. I nurse her first thing in the morning before I drop her off at my parents’, in the evenings after I get off work and again just when she goes to bed. Most days she get a feed in the middle of the night too. Keep it up!

  5. By The Mommy Therapy on March 30, 2011

    I love when a common bond unites you to a stranger.  I also love when you are expecting judgement and are pleasantly surprised to hear someone encourage you.

    There is way too much judging in the Mom world, we all are just doing our best.  So nurse if it works for you and your child and try to block out the haters. 

    By the way,  my Mom has not stopped talking to me about Le Leche since I had my first baby.  That group can form some serious followers!

  6. By Jaimey on March 30, 2011

    I love ladies like her. I have met a few too. :)

    Did you see the leaky boob today. Great post on BFing.

  7. By on March 30, 2011

    She is so right about how your baby will decide when to ween. Mine self weened at 15 months. I would offer the breast to him and he would decline. I wanted to nurse longer, but my son had other plans. I’m happy that I let him take the lead on it.

  8. By on March 30, 2011

    I also am surprised at how many people think it’s uncommon to nurse anymore. I mean, there are a ton of people who formula feed around my way, a ton who stop nursin early on for various reasons, a ton who say they’ll nurse and give up because they are too intimidated (and afraid to ask for help); but for all those people I know, there’s someone I know who nurses too.

    I think that woman deserves to know that BFing really is on it’s way back! I work with a number of people who are pregnant, whom to look at (not that I should judge) you’d say ‘oh yeah, they’ll be using formula” an one of the first things they mention when I ask abouttheir pregnancy and baby plans is the breastpump they registered for. It takes time to reverse a way a thinking… A ‘simplicity’ people have grown to accept… And a merchandising company that’s got as much power on young mothers a it does… But I’d say w’re getting there!

  9. By Widelawns on March 30, 2011

    People give me strange looks for breastfeeding a 5 month old. Not a 5 year old, a 5 MONTH old. My sister and I and 1 other friend of ours are the only people we know who chose breastfeeding and most of the women we know have babies. They all say the same thing - they had no milk, the baby wasn’t getting enough, the milk never came in. Of course this can’t be true with everyone. The problem is they were all so misinformed about breastfeeding and had little if any support to continue. Sadly, where I live, I have never once ever seen a woman breastfeeding in public and it just doesn’t seem to be very common or encouraged at all. I think I’ll write about it soon in more depth. I think it’s great that you’re nursing a toddler and I hope in 15 months I’ll be doing the exact same thing.

  10. By Sarah Christensen on March 30, 2011

    I thought that the frequency thing seemed odd at first too, but then I started thinking on it and realized that the vast majority of the nursing mothers I see are at playdates, child-friendly locations like the aquarium, etc.  I do see other moms nursing out and about sometimes, but it’s certainly not common.  And I live in an area where almost every mother I know breastfeeds for at least nine months.

    Mommy Therapy - AMEN to you.  I wish people would stop passing judgments against fellow mothers.  We do the best we can with the resources we have, the end.  I know people who have used formula because it worked for them, and I don’t judge them for that.  It seems like it wouldn’t be asking that much to have other people not judge me for sticking with nursing at 20 months.

  11. By Laura Bishop on March 30, 2011

    I LOVE this! I just had the same kinda thing happen to me recently while we were shopping in REI, (of course THEY give BF the thumbs up) :) And I have been meaning to write about it too :)
    Thanks for sharing!

  12. By on March 30, 2011

    My best comment ever made to me was from my own mother in law when I was nursing my 18 month old in her own room and she walked in and said “stop giving her that or your going to make her gay!“ I continued until she self-weaned at 30 months old. Then I really annoyed her by nursing my son who is now 30 months as well while I’m pregnant with our 4th.
    I was going to ask you-what carriers do you absolutely love? I had a Moby for our last which I loved but I want something a little more um rugged? Not so wrapy.

  13. By Sarah Christensen on March 30, 2011

    April, I used the Moby the most until Charlotte was about seven months old and then we slowly transitioned into the Ergo.  I still use the Ergo 9 times out of 10 right now, but I think a softer structure like a Beco would have been preferable; the Ergo’s a bit bulkier than I like when it’s empty.  I also use a few ring slings and pouches, but I do love the Moby and the Ergo best.

    What do you mean by “rugged”?

  14. By on March 30, 2011

    Maybe it was me but I never seemed to get the Moby to where it didn’t loosen so much eventually. I have other kids so am always moving around with them (baby attached) and I always had it loosen then baby would feel little less secure. Wanting to find something that as he/she gets older they are more secure if that makes sense? Like something with a bit more structure than the Moby but yet still soft.

  15. By on March 30, 2011

    Just my two cents: I love my beco! I have never nursed in it though an hear it’s terriblefor nursing on-the-go.

    One of the best quotes I got from my grandmother who I can tell judges me for nursing my 23 month old is ‘i fed all my babies evaporated milk and corn syrup and they thrived just fine’. Hmmmmm… Ok.

  16. By Molly on March 30, 2011

    Oh thank you…just what I needed to hear. My sweetheart is 17 months old (today is her “birthday”) and I’m still nursing.
    My new little one is due in May.
    I was totally planning to wean during pregnancy, but alas, it simply hasn’t happened and truth be told, neither of us is ready to wean.
    So this weekend I got totally berated by my parents for continuing to nurse in addition to nursing a newborn and it was fairly heartbreaking.
    Since then, I’ve been consumed with thinking about nursing, weaning and trying to figure out how to nurse a toddler and a newborn at once:).

  17. By Catherine on March 30, 2011

    I’m still nursing my 22 month old, as well.  I nursed my son for 15 months but he stopped on his own (I was also 3 months pregnant when he stopped, so maybe that’s why?  Likely) Anyway, I see a lot of women nursing, but not too many nursing toddlers.  No one has ever reacted negatively to me, and if anyone does ask, it’s usually met with a positive response.  Or, maybe I just look like the kind of woman who would chew them a new one.  Likely.  :)

  18. By Sarah Christensen on March 30, 2011

    Catherine - Oddly, when I was new to the breastfeeding game, I had a couple of really negative experiences involving other people…but it has become more rare with time.  I receive more curious comments and advice about weaning now, but it’s been awhile (six months or so) since anybody in public really approached me about breastfeeding at all.  I was wondering about that after this happened.  Do people just feel less comfortable approaching me now that Charlotte’s older?  Do they notice less now that it happens less frequently in public and she’s quieter while breastfeeding?  Or do I just have a don’t-mess-with-me vibe lol?

    The only time I see nursing toddlers is around friends, really.  Maybe once I’ve seen a nursing toddler outside of playgroups and what-not.

    April - Another option might be a mei-tai.  A friend of mine uses a Baby Hawk mei-tai that she saw recommended by Steph Precourt from http://www.adventuresinbabywearing.com and I’ve seen her nurse in it on the go without any problems.  I know a few people with Becos and I think I’ve only seen one of them nursing in it on the move, so I think Alicia might be right about that.  Since I’ve only used a mei tai when I was borrowing it from someone else, I’d recommend asking Steph - she breastfed and had older children while wearing her younger two in a mei tai so she’d know more about whether or not it’s a sustainable carrier for a young baby.  I had the slipping problem with the Moby too and another option that I’ve heard is pretty reasonable is looking into woven wraps.  Since they aren’t stretchy, my understanding is that they don’t loosen as much and we’ve thought about going that route with subsequent children, but we’d probably make it ourselves or order from an Etsy seller on the cheap.  The wovens from Didymos and the like can be quite costly.  I’ve also heard that they’re harder to nurse in, but I’ve seen several people nurse in them without a problem so I can’t imagine it’s any more difficult than nursing in a Moby.  (I used to slip a shoulder off with the Moby to be able to comfortably nurse on the go lol, so it’s not like I felt it was super easy.)

    Molly - To you, I say feel confident.  You, as the mother of your two children, will know when it is appropriate to wean and when it is not right for you or them.  I know several people who have breastfed multiple children simultaneously, so it IS possible.  Time-consuming, certainly, but possible.

    If it makes you feel any better, Donald and I knew before Charlotte was even born that we fully planned on breastfeeding beyond one year (it is customary in our family to nurse for several years).  We also knew that we would like to have children 2 - 4 years apart, in an ideal universe.  Going into this, we knew that the chances were that unless one of our children weaned themselves early on their own, there would be several years during which I could be nursing two or three children at once.

    Extended breastfeeding may be completely normal in our family, but tandem nursing is not (except for twins).  I have raised several eyebrows when I tell people that if we got pregnant tomorrow, I’d have every intention of continuing to nurse through pregnancy and with a second child IF THAT’S WHAT WORKED FOR CHARLOTTE AND ME.  If it didn’t, we’d wean.  So you’re in good company and if you ever need a little support, I’ve got your back =)

  19. By Alicia S. on March 31, 2011

    My mom had this mortifying habit of telling everyone of my friends/boyfriends growing up how ‘hooked on the boob’ I was as a baby. She formula fed my older brother and then decided to just give breastfeeding a shot when I was born - and apparently I was so hooked on breastmilk that I refused even to take it from a bottle. I wasn’t weaned until I was like 3. In the meantime my little brother was born and she definitely nursed the both of us simultaneously for some time… Not because she was a huge breastfeeding fanatic, but because I just wouldn’t let her wean me lol

    But she says, even to this day (and I have two children of my own now) that she still cherishes the breastfeeding relationship we had… that it was one of the most wonderful times in her life.

  20. By Kimberly o'Rosky on March 31, 2011

    This brought tears to my eyes. I’m constantly being asked - are you still bf - when are you going to stop - she’s got teeth now mama bet it won’t be long ..... It drives me bonkers. I wish it wasn’t such a spectacle here in the US. it would be wonderful to find encouragement and support like this everyday.

  21. By Ashley on March 31, 2011

    I’m due in October and I’ve been really nervous about breastfeeding just because I know some women who have had some awful experiences, but reading back through your blog and has others has really calmed my nerves about it. I think it’s beautiful, and I completely agree that Charlotte will let you know when she’s ready to stop. Plus, what an awesome gift that we’re able to have that experience and bond with our children in that way. Just thinking about it makes me feel strong.

  22. By Christy on April 01, 2011

    Way to go Mama!

    I’m still nursing my 27 month old on demand and we love it.  I do get the strange looks and the occasional lecture that I’m ruining my child (from my Mom! I was so mad) because I’m still nursing, but I don’t care.  This is good for my daughter and we are happy with our life. 

    Keep it up!

  23. By on April 01, 2011

    If you see her again, tell her that I am nursing my 2 1/2 year old, and although my milk is waning (one side seems almost gone…although she still nurses on it occasionally) we’re still, quite definitely, STILL NURSING.

    She was wearing big girl underwear this morning, nursing in my lap before we got up to start our day. I was looking down at her and realized I was nursing a little girl….and also a baby.

    Nobody else around me that I know of has ever nursed this long, and I while none of my friends outright tell me I should stop, I get a lot of “have you thought about weaning yet?“ and “really?! huh.“ when people find out I’m still nursing. So my “atta girl’s” and “go mama!‘s” are all vicariously through my blogs I follow (like yours, thank you for your blog!).

    Anyway, if you ever do see her again, let her know she encouraged ME today. To not push weaning. To be proud of our nursing relationship. And to keep going.

    :)

  24. By on April 01, 2011

    I have been reading your blog since I was pregnant with my daughter Libby, who is now 10 months old. Something happened today that I wanted to share and when I was trying to think of who would appreciate it, I thought of you! I have been lucky enough to breastfeed, though I am a working mom her daycare is at my place of work so I am able to feed her during the day. Recently she has seemed less interested in breastfeeding and just other other day she was a bit sick and stayed home with Dad while I went to work. We don’t have much milk in the freezer and its getting a bit old so I told my husband that unless she seemed like she wanted it not to give her a bottle, I fed her right before I left and would again when I got home. Well, she was fine, which was good, but I have to admit I was a bit sad that she didn’t seem to miss it, cause I did but went back to our normal nursing schedule as planned. Then tonight I was lying on the floor and she was sitting up playing, my shirt was up a bit so she could see my stomach, she kept leaning over and putting her mouth on my stomach so I said “are you trying to nurse?“ and pulled up my shirt, well she looked at my breast, looked at me, and gave me the biggest smile, leaned over and starting nursing, she kept this up for a few minutes, huge smile, then nurse, then went back to playing. It just made me so happy to know I wasn’t the only one who was really still enjoying our nursing relationship.
    Sorry this is so long and thanks for letting me share this great moment.
    And thanks for sharing all your wonderful adventures with Charlotte.

  25. By on April 01, 2011

    oh, and I plan to nurse her for as long as she is still interested, thanks to everyone for the support!

  26. By on April 03, 2011

    Thank you for this.  My 21 month old still nurses like a champ.  A newborn champ =P Every hour of every day sometimes it seems.  I’ve yet to have a cycle since her birth.  I’ve had plenty of people tell me to wean.  A nutritionist, even!  (Right after she told me to butter everything I gave the child, for shame) 

    I, too, would like another child.  I, too, would like to sleep at night again.  But when I’m curled up next to her nursing her back to sleep for the fourth time that night…she still feels like my baby.  Smells like my baby.  I can’t give that up.

  27. By Sarah Christensen on April 03, 2011

    Lindsay - I know exactly what you mean!  My daughter is and, with the exception of a couple months around 3-4 months, has always been a champion overnight sleeper.  So I don’t really have to deal with night nursing very frequently BUT there are days when Charlotte will refuse to eat and only wants my milk - and I let it happen.  It isn’t frequent, but if she’s sick or very tired or we’ve been really busy and she just wants to spend time with me or be comforted or what-have-you, then she always wants milk.  My milk, straight from me.  It can be frustrating or overwhelming and sometimes I feel like I’m still glued to one place while she suckles like an infant, but then she looks up at me and grins and I just melt.  I can’t imagine that it will be like this forever, and it seems like giving up a few years for her isn’t asking that much of me.

    For the record, too, I started spotting periodically when Charlotte was much younger and I thought it was my period but it turned out that it wasn’t.  When she was about 15 or 16 months old was the first time I actually reliably got my period back, and only then because she weaned back to once a day for a couple weeks.  That’s a thing of the past these days - she’s back to at least every few hours right now - and as such my period and ovulation are, once again, completely unreliable.  We always said we wanted to have two children of our own and then adopt and then see where we stood.  I figure, eh, if we don’t get pregnant because I’m nursing then maybe we just have one, adopt, and then see where we stand.  If we adopted a young enough child, I’d nurse them too so maybe it’ll be forever before I actually conceive again lol =P


Name:

Email:

Location:

URL:

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?