Monday, January 4, 2010

A wonderful year

Tomorrow is the first birthday of our dear little Shira. A year ago, she was placed in my arms for the first time, small and fragile, secure and comfortable. I find it hard to believe how time has flown. We came home with a precious, snuggly bundle. Now we have an energetic little explorer who is eager to put her hands to use. She crawls and sits and stands and has excellent coordination when it comes to grabbing stuff. She has even started saying a few words. The progress a baby makes in a year is simply awe-inspiring.

This has been a year of successful breastfeeding, despite some dire predictions of ill-informed pediatricians. In case you have been wondering, Shira remains small and lean, even though she eats plenty of solids now. She still loves to nurse. She's down to about 3-4 times a day now, but she loves those special times with her mama and isn't at all inclined to give them up just yet.

I'm now beginning to face many raised eyebrows and scandalized expressions when I say I don't plan to wean my child anytime soon, if at all. And that's from people who only not long ago applauded me for nursing my baby. I hear lots of ridiculous suggestions, such as that after one year, formula is healthier than mother's milk and also that if I don't wean soon, I will be stuck breastfeeding until my baby is twenty years old.

Personally, I don't see why I would rush to stop breastfeeding. Shira doesn't even have teeth yet! I'm not saying babies should be weaned when they have teeth, but I do see something ironic in the fact that a toothless baby is seen as too old to nurse. I see something even more ironic in the idea of weaning my baby just to give her formula. Formula is, at best, an inferior substitute to mother's milk. Yet most children I know drink it until they're at least two. In my eyes, if the child drinks formula, he should have still been breastfed.

Beside the obvious health benefits of mother's milk, which don't just disappear because the baby is older now, it's a sweet and relaxing time. And I don't believe my child won't wean. She used to nurse around the clock, now she only nurses a few times a day. The way I see it, she will self-wean eventually and gradually. Perhaps I will feel a twinge of sadness, but by that time, I might well have another baby to nurse.

53 comments:

Anna said...

The baby will wean herself when she's ready. And the World Health Organization suggests breastfeeding until 2. So you could tell naysayers that.
But ultimately it's nobody else's business! =)

The Whites said...

"In my eyes, if the child drinks formula, he should have still been breastfed." YES YES YES! It makes no sense to me why people wean there babies at 12 months (that is typical in the U.S. if not sooner) only to have to replace it with something else (usually cows milk at 12 months). If you are having to replace it with something else, then the need is still there- why take it away?

You are very wise not to wean your daughter... its better for to let the child decide :-)

Rose said...

Happy birthday to little Shira!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on celebrating your first year of parenthood! And regarding nursing little Shira, you are on the right track. I nursed my youngest until he was almost 3.5 years, and really benefitted from the closeness with him during a very intense period of life. And the prolactin was a blessing to help me be able to relax in the midst of it. I don't regret our extended nursing one bit, and do miss it now.
~Beth

Civilla said...

I know you will do what is best for you and your child, and ignore the other voices.

Charis said...

What a joy to watch your child grow! I absolutely agree with your thoughts on how ridiculous it would be to wean your child and begin formula. Unless your milk supply goes down, or you return to the job world, I don't see the logic. Remind your friends who discourage nursing a one-year old, that during Old Testament times THREE was the common age a child was weaned... And people did not seem to suffer from it. :)
I DOUBT Samson was merely a couple months old(a common age to switch to formula) when Hannah brought him to the temple when he was just weaned, to learn under Eli! To my knowledge, weaning at a young age is a very modern,Western concept. Just some thoughts.

MrsKassandra said...

Happy Birthday to little Shira! :) WOW I cannot believe its been a year already! I've been reading your blog for a few years and have commented a couple of times, and I just remember thinking, when Shira was born' oh man I've still got soooo long to go'- I was pregnant at the time. My daughter, Evelyn, is 5 months today! Time really flies. I think it's wonderful that you want to continue to breastfeed..and like you, I'm sure Shira will be done when its time to be done. I've got really super inverted nipples so getting good latches was/is super hard, so I exclusively pump. It's a chore for sure but I'm determined that little Evie will get breastmilk for as long as possible.So, kudos to you, keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

If it's any chronological comfort, my first son self-weaned after age 3 yrs and second self-weaned at age 7 months. Their father's heritage was a small birth-size but the photos I have are of round little plump cheeked aka-chans, especially in their grandmother's woollen hats and outerwear.

If the issue is nutritional needs vs. psychological issues, whatever long-lasting ramifications I feel about a particular age may have had no bearing on nutritional sustenance, but rather more to do with father's role in the family forming a unified parental front (than any of mother's hormonal changes as effect on later behavior). One would think that with loving and balanced parents in love with each other, then, there would be no point to quibble.

I worked in nursing homes while attending college, and it seemed when some less inhibited women talked about nursing their children, breastfeeding issues have been 'faddish' through the years with differences among alternating generations of American women.

Cinnamon

Leiani said...

Hello, I'm a long time reader though I haven't commented before, as like you I am a very busy mother (of three wonderful boys).

I felt that I needed to applaud you for your continued breastfeeding of your daughter,even though there are those who are negative about it.

My youngest son is 16 mths old and I still nurse him about 4 times a day. I too feel the disapproval from many, though no one has said anything outright.

The time spent nursing with my son is so special to me, it continues to strengthen the bond I have with him, as well as the obvious health benefits.

Also, my good friend, a child health nurse who supports me, and has said that breast milk will adjust to my son's growth needs, help protect him from illness and provide him with any nutrients that may be lacking in his diet.

With all these reasons, I find it hard to understand why others think I should no longer breastfeed him. I plan to continue for as long as we are both happy to do so.

My good wishes to you and your family and Happy Birthday to your daughter.

Serenity Now said...

I'm surprised at how much negativity you receive regarding this whole breastfeeding thing. I know many many people who breastfed until their kids were 2. I think it's just a personal decision and who cares what other people think. I wasn't able to breastfeed my little one (medical reasons) but I still think mothers milk is better than formula! I'm not sure about pediatricans over there, but here they recommend stopping the formula at a year old and starting them on whole milk. Just wondering what your doc suggests...or if you're breastfeeding do they skip the whole milk thing altogether?
I can't believe she's a year old already - time sure does fly - and you seem to be enjoying every moment. Good job mama!

SBCE said...

When my baby was a year old she was nowhere near weaning. When she was nineteen months old she weaned herself. I was worried I'd still be nursing her when she was twenty, but she weaned herself with no problems, and no swelling or discomfort for me.

Babies are individuals and each can wean when he/she is ready.

I found it helpful to surround myself with individuals who supported my decisions instead of criticizeing them.

Happy Hermit (happilyhiddenhermit@gmail.com) said...

Wow that much time has passed already , i mean wasnt it just the other day you were still full of baby and eagerly hopping in excitement ?

LOL the years go by so very fast once their born.

messy bessy said...

Happy Birthday, Shira!

You are courageous for refusing to cave into the pressure to wean. In ancient cultures, children weren't weaned until they were 3!

I am now nursing my 6th baby (who is 15 months) and can attest -- they all wean, even the ones who seem neediest now.

Do you have La Leche League in Israel? It was a priceless support to me with my first baby.

Amelia said...

I applaud your dedication to nursing Shira past one year! My mother breastfed all of her children for 2.5-4 years, depending upon the child, and was a La Leche League leader, IBCLC, and speaker. No, none of us experienced anything except benefits from it. My mom still talks, seven or eight years after her youngest weaned, about how wonderful "extended" breastfeeding was (it wasn't really extended because breastfeeding for a several years is totally within normal and natural practice).

Your point about not weaning the baby just to give her formula is spot-on. Of course there's no inherent need for formula; it's great to have a backup for mother's milk in those circumstances that necessitate its use, but it shouldn't be given if there is no reason for it. Even if Shira (and a joyous first birthday to her!) is several years old and hasn't weaned, you can worry about deliberately weaning her then. Plus, if you're blessed with another pregnancy by then, I've heard that many toddlers wean naturally when the mother is in the second or third trimester because the mother's milk changes to suit the needs of a newborn.

I encourage you to continue to place Shira's good above ill-informed reactions. You sound like you're being a very good mother and will be able to teach her later on to persist in other unpopular things such as religious dedication, chastity, or modesty.

Rachel said...

I nursed my first child until 20 months, and would have nursed her longer had I not gotten pregnant. Then nursed my next 2 for over 2 years each. Now nursing my new baby who will soon be 12 weeks old.

I've never had a problem with them basically weaning themselves with very little encouragement from me.

Kacie said...

Happy birthday to your little girl and to YOU!

My son was born in Dec 08. We're still happily nursing and I have no date on the calendar to stop.

People can be so silly -- do they honestly think that if you don't wean now, that the babe will continue to nurse until she's in her 20s? That makes no sense. Most children do wean on their own sometime between ages 1-4.

If mom and baby are happy, why change? Besides, the World Health Organization suggests nursing to age 2, if not beyond.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Anna,
Nursing your baby has so many benefits, as you well know. You are strong enough to withstand the comments. No one who has done it as long as you have understands the let down, and relaxation that brings. I wish I could have taken my blood pressure during those times. It sure seemed lower. Nursing your baby, and even a toddler, forces both of you to stop for a moment and cuddle. Who can criticize that? You are such an encouragement to many woman, thank you!
Mrs. G

Nancy Helen said...

Happy Birthday, little Shira! You are blessed with a wise and loving momma.

Nadja said...

Happy birthday to your baby girl! :)

My cousin has almost an 18 month old baby girl and she's still breastfeeding. She works as a pediatrician nurse and is well aware of all the benefits. She also encounters a lot of nay-sayers little one is also eating solids and despite being a teeny tiny child (much like her mom was as a toddler), she's very energetic.

Also, my mum told me that I weaned myself at 6 months whereas my brother nursed till he was over 1 year old. I never liked milk so my mom had to be veeeeery creative and nursed me while I was sleeping. ;)

So, thumbs up for breastfeeeding!

Mrs. Kelly said...

Greetings Mrs. Anna! I have somehow stumbled upon your little blog world and am enjoying it!! I am a wife & mama also, my oldest being 21, then 15, and our last child 12. Nursed all of them, and the last two breastfed till about 2.5 years. Yes, you will get looks, but just keep believing that you are giving your little one the very best! It's good for Shira and you!
Thanks for all you are sharing. I am in a Basic Judiasm class and am loving all aspects.

Shalom!
Mrs. Kelly

Jennifer said...

So far, all my babies have weaned themselves by age 1 anyway. I have always been expecting by then, so I think my milk changes flavor. But I must admit, by then, I am ready to stop nursing. I've been thinking about nursing longer with our Damaris, but we'll see. I agree with everyone else, I don't think there is anything wrong with continuing nursing your daughter.

I have to admit, though, I was more surprised that she doesn't have teeth yet at a year old than I was at your announcing that you will continue nursing her. Has her doctor said anything about her not having teeth yet? I doubt there is anything to be concerned with, it's just that I am quite surprised to here that a 1 year old doesn't even have a few teeth. I don't mean to to upset you and it really isn't my business, so please excuse me if I'm being to nosy!

Jennifer D

Mrs. Anna T said...

One call to the local LLL hotline saved our breastfeeding. I don't go to that pediatrician anymore, but I sometimes wish I could go just one more time, to show my "FTT" baby and how she has thrived on mother's milk and a gradual introduction of solids to her diet. Supposedly, because she was "starving", she was going to jump up a whole lot in weight after we began solids but it never happened. So much for blaming low milk supply.

Mrs W said...

Honestly I can see why people are against extended breastfeeding. I'm not necessarily against it, but I feel awkward when people tell me they are doing it. But my reasons are varied.

I have seen, with my own eyes, three year olds who can eat solids rip open their moms shirt in public and pitch a fit because mom says they can not nurse there, only at home. I've heard of a mom still nursing her seven year old...she was charged with sexual abuse, and at age seven, it is sexual abuse. She always tried to get her thirteen year old to nurse too. That mom had serious issues.

A while ago a mom made a fuss on a plane simply because people were uncomfortable seeing her nurse her toddler and she was asked to stop. Why make a scene when your child is very capable of eating solids? That wasn't a slam against breastfeeding at all, it was the public uncomfortable at having to see a two year old nurse. And I'd have been uncomfortable too and she shouldn't have won anything.

It seems like a lot of moms want to breastfeed for an extended period of time for themselves, not their children. The ones I have seen, the children have been happy eating solids, and the mom has had to coax them to breastfeed because they didn't want to. The moms have told me they aren't willing to let go because they want to keep "bonding". If the child doesn't want to breastfeed, figure out another way to bond.

Mine drank regular milk after age one I felt no need to keep them on their formula.

Anonymous said...

I have a nutrition question regarding this: if a baby is given formula from birth (b/c he was adopted) should he be given formula for the first 2-3 years, or is it okay to switch to straight up cow's milk at some point? If so, when would that be advisable?

Thanks!
TK

Laura said...

My friend had the same problem with her pediatrician. They said that she had low milk supply, he had FTT and that she HAD to give formula. She forged through, with many tears, and exclusively breastfed her son. Come to find out (when he was about 3-4 months old) he had a milk protein allergy. If she had stopped nursing him, she would be buying the world's most expensive formula. Instead, she cut all dairy out of her diet, and they are both happily nursing now. It's really unfortunate how many doctors are ill-informed about breastfeeding.

Good for you to continue nursing your little girl! They all wean when they are ready! I nursed my first until 16 months (became pregnant), and now am nursing my almost 1 year old and will continue till whenever! :o) You're doing great momma, keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,

Don't listen to these people anymore than you would have listened to those who told you nursing wasn't best.

I nursed my oldest until about 3 and a half. After about two years of age it was only comfort nursing or a few minutes before she fell asleep. It lasted so long because we were exposed to stomach viruses several times while she was three and I had another nurser. The breastmilk kept her either from getting ill or if she got ill was the only thing that she was able to hold down. My Husband who was firmly in the formula only camp until we had our kids would bring me our oldest after visiting family or an outing and say "Give her some magic juice there were a bunch of sick people around!" and sure enough it would give her just enough of a boost that she usually didn't become ill.

I also nursed while pregnant and tandem nursed a newborn and a two year old. The DOCTORS insisted on coming in and talking to me because the DID NOT believe the nurses who told them I was doing it. And DOCTORS told me they thought nursing while pregnant would hurt the fetus and that tandem was impossible. I had to bite my tongue from telling them they were POORLY educated.

They will NOT nurse until they are 20. Each baby needs to wean on their own time frame. My second weaned at 18 months and she is two and a half now. She only occasionally wants to have a quick comfort nurse if she gets hurt or doesn't feel well.

Do what God tells you and it will be best, I know you will.

And yes, you WILL miss this sweet special time especially if you have more because you are usally dealing with crazy toddlers while nursing later LOL.

Many Blessings :)
Ace

Michelle said...

Happy Birthday Shira!

Literature Goddess said...

Anna--
My ped said the same thing. No big gain here either, just gradual, and a very active, happy, nursing boy. I've just recently changed pediatricians, and am looking forward to having a more informed, more supportive pediatrician.

Many hugs to you and Shira on your first year!

Lara

Anonymous said...

Good for you for listening to your body and your baby. Keep up that nursing relationship as long as the two of you desire.

So many people get uptight about such a natural thing, IMO it's because so many cultures sexualize breasts.

-Sunny

Aaron and Amber said...

My son is happy still nursing at almost 17 months and isnt thinking he wants to stop any time soon. Perfectly fine with me. I read some where that for every month a baby breastfeeds after 1 year, their IQ raiser so many points. Happy Birthday little girl! :)

Elena Michalev said...

Happy Birthday to Shira!!! Wishing her all the best!

Julia said...

Shira is a lucky little girl. :) I'm glad you had the confidence and knowledge to not let the pediatrician scare you. I nursed my children 34 months and 31 months, and I don't regret it at all. I got some support from my parents and a few other like minded mothers I met through local mom's groups, but I also got a lot of criticism, probably because I was a young mom. The criticism wore on me emotionally, but I'm still glad I persevered.

jAne said...

Birthday blessings for sweet Shira! My, how quickly time passes and what precious moments for the memory book, hm?

Sweet friend, you're doing perfectly fine in your decision to nurse Shira indefinitely. Offer a blind ear to those who say otherwise. You're a wise woman with a heart for your daughter. :o)

jAne * tickleberryfarm.blogspot.com

Lillian the Ponderer said...

Happy Birthday to Shira, time certainly does fly.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that you are still nursing so much, but I suppose that's because my daughter pretty much weaned herself by 12-13months, and we had gradually cut down on breastfeeding during the day.

Are you planning on breastfeeding two children at the same time if your daughter doesn't self-wean in the meantime?

Mrs. Pear said...

At the risk of sounding incredibly rude, people should really learn to keep their unsolicited opinions to themselves!

If you, and your husband are happy to keep nursing, keep going! You are doing a good thing!

Our oldest weaned herself at 14 or 15 months. Our youngest is 16 months and still likes to nurse first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I am praying she will continue to nurse through cold/flu/rsv season.

And she has teeth, 4 on top, 4 on bottom....

All this to say, you do what is right for your family, for this specific sweet child. The medical advice is written for the average child and I have yet to meet one, they are all spectacular.

Gombojav Tribe said...

Happy Birthday to Shira! My Saraa is one year old tomorrow, which is also the last day of Christmas for us, Epiphany! It's a day of celebration and more celebration! One year certainly has flown by! This time last year both of us were in labor! Can hardly believe it!

Blessings on another fruitful year!

Daja

Anonymous said...

Hurrah for Shira & her mama.

CappuccinoLife said...

Happy Birthday Shira!!!!!

Anna, congrats on successfully nursing for a year! My youngest nursed the longest, but he self-weaned at about 26-28 months (it was a process). He *thrived* (we are talking butterball baby, he was fat!) on breastmilk as his primary nourishment until about 15 months, and then he decided he was open to eating solids. Ignore the nattering nabobs of negativism. You are doing right by your baby!

Anonymous said...

I was glad you shared this post. You daughter will either wean herself or you will just know when you are done nursing her. For me my milk ran out around Noah's 1st b-day. But that was the same time I wanted to stop nursing anyway. Noah was fine with it. She knew mommy didn't have anymore milk. It happens differently for everyone. Normally what you have in your heart is what will happen

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to little Shira! :o) It's amazing how time has flown by!

I'm happy the nursing has been going so well for you, Anna. It really is the best for babies. I would not trade that time with my own three for anything....& I wish now that I had done it a bit longer, in fact.

Brenda

Sheri said...

Oh, happy 1st birthday precious little Shira! And, enjoy your special cuddle time and healthy nursing with your mommy... It goes by much to quickly.

Anonymous said...

I breastfed my youngest (of six) until he was almost two. He weened himself.

No Idle Hands

Mrs. Anna T said...

Jennifer, we were told that the teeth will come out at their time, that it's all mainly genetic predisposition and that there is nothing we can do about it. My husband was a late teether too.

And Mrs. W, of course I'm not talking about extremes such as those. If Shira wants to nurse in public and I'm not feeling comfortable with it, she can usually be distracted by a toy or some food.

Mrs W said...

You are a good mom, Anna. While I feel uncomfortable seeing toddlers nursing, I don't suppose there is anything really wrong with it. People actually told me I was abusing my babies when I was unable to nurse, so this is a sensitive subject for me.

Glad Shira is doing well. My baby is on goats milk with colostrum added and a multivitamin because he is allergic to cow milk and soy. :(

Elizabeth said...

Happy Birthday to Shira !
May HaShem grant her many, many, years !

Alycia said...

You're doing a great job, Anna! My two children were both "FTT" as well, but I continued breastfeeding and monitoring their health status myself. As a matter of fact, among my closest friends, I am aware of no fewer than SEVEN (not counting my own) having breastfed babies/toddlers classified as FTT! That tells me there's probably something wrong with the charts, not with these remarkably healthy little ones!

Thursday's Child said...

Happy Birthday, Shira!

Swylv said...

no teeth yet huh? my son Noah got his first 2 bottom middle teeth at 7 months and funny thing those were the first 2 teeth he lost at 7 years old ...LOL

Chedva said...

Happy Birthday to Shira!

My mother nursed all 8 of us. Her rule was, if you are old enough to ask for it with words, you are old enough to quit! I think most of us self weaned before that stage anyway, but I do remember my brother asking for it at 3 and she had to make him stop since she had an infant at the time.

Lena said...

Wow, she turned one yesterday? Happy Birthday to your little baby girl. My little one is 1 yrs old today... :))

Bonnie said...

Wow, how does time go so fast!!! I can remember when Shira was born! We were all checking the blog a couple of times a day! Happy Birthday Shira! Give her a hug and a kiss from us all :)

Neuropoet said...

Happy Birthday Shira!

Anna,
I'm sorry you're already facing a bit of pressure to wean... 12 months is really young to wean in my opinion. Because my oldest was autistic (though we didn't know it yet) he still wasn't eating solid foods at 12 months... and he had been walking/running since 7 months. I was thankful he was still nursing and I could trust that he was getting all the nutrients he needed. A mother's milk changes as her little one grows to give just what they need at each stage. He nursed until he was 3 years and 1 month... though the last year was only at night time.
My other son weaned a few weeks before his third birthday. When he was around 18 months old my oldest came down with Scarlet Fever - it took me days to convince the doctor that he was really sick (we had to have permission from the doctor's office in order to be able to see a doctor). Of course, once they saw him they wouldn't let us leave the office until the test results came back so we could get a prescription for antibiotics...I was so thankful that I was still nursing my little one! Scarlet Fever is highly contagious, but thanks to the extra immunities in my milk he was fine.

Little ones will wean when their need for nursing is passed... each child is unique - never to exist again in history - there is no "one size fits all" approach to nursing/weaning. :) Trust yourself - little Shira will benefit... :)

hugs from Oregon,
~Jenny