Friday, February 24, 2006

Adventures in nursing a toddler

Today, for the very first time, I felt like a total idiot as a mama in front of my own mama. Actually, not in front of her as in person, but rather we were on the phone.

My mother has been awesome in not pushing her own parenting agenda on me. Until today I honestly didn't know her opinions on co-sleeping, extended nursing, vaccines, discipline, etc etc. She just listens to my stories and keeps her mouth shut, which is actually impressive considering my mother is full of opinions on everything! I did assume she wasn't bothered by my choices, which I think is a safe assumption. All of her grand children are being raised in generally the same way, so she's seen it all before.

Iris has a few, okay, quite a few, behaviors that make me cringe. I try to follow the gentle, kind, understanding approach and temper it with a stern voice when I feel the situation allows (like when she's pummeling the cat for the fifteenth time in one day). One of the behaviors I don't quite have a handle on is her, um, zest for her mama's milk, AKA "nursey booby". She learned the phrase "nursey booby" quite a while ago and I always thought it was totally adorable and was more than happy to oblige her when she asked me. I also tell her to ask please, which comes out "peeeeed!". If you're a smarter person than I, you have probably already put it together in your head that her cute little "nursey booby" phrase, combined with shouting "peeeeed!" has turned in to a bit of battle of not understanding why she can't nurse, even shen she asked so nicely! At least a dozen times a day now, she screams and cries "nursey booby" and "peeeeed!", thinking, of course, that adding a please on the end of her demand means I HAVE to do it, and is just that much more upset when I refuse her. And I do refuse her, alot, most of the time actually, because she asks SO many times a day, and we are already nursing 7-10 times a day as it is. Sometimes she even asks not five minutes after finishing a nursing session. Being refused a "nursey booby" typically results in her collapsing in a teary mess and I try to distract her, comfort her, and explain that boobies are tired and need to rest. "Boobies are sleeping" is a common phrase to hear around our home. She doesn't buy it.

So, this has been going for the past several weeks. I often heard that nursing toddlers lose interest in mama's milk when she becomes pregnant again, but not Iris. My pregnancy, and subsequent more plentiful milk supply (which I only say because my boobies have already grown) has made Iris a junkie for my milk. She can't get enough, and makes that VERY clear to everyone around her. Back to my original point for this post, tonight I am on the phone with my mother. I had originally called my folks to find out what the best way to cook the chicken that is used in chicken salad (I'm a total idiot when it comes to cooking meat). The conversation ended because my beautiful, sweet, adorable daughter was on my lap screaming "nursey booby! nursey booby!" over and over and over. My mom, bless her soul, was trying to remain calm, but she was secretly shaking her head because she thought I had created an obsessive, manipulative monster of a nursing toddler. I have begun to wonder if possibly I have. Earlier in the conversation I mentioned that I was worried about what was going to happen when Iris saw the new baby sharing her mama's beloved boobies. "How long are you planning to nurse?" my mother asked, quite innocently I may add (it wasn't a loaded question, at least it didn't feel like it). To which I launched in to my spiel about the benfits of nursing a toddler, and child led weaning, etc etc. I also shared a story of how "cute" it was that Iris asks to "nursey booby". As if on cue, Iris climbs on my lap and begins the show. My mother, I am sure, feels more than a bit smug, just having joked "I think if they're old enough to ask, they're too old to nurse!" Here I was on the other end of the phone unable to quiet my daughter down and simultaneously am trying to explain why I'm doing the right thing for my daughter. I felt like such an ass, and more than a bit like a failure. Sure, I am doing the best thing for Iris by nursing her, but what are my skills as a parent saying about her nursing behavior?

As I do with most everything nursing related, I checked kellymom.com, and was led on a little search in to the world of nursing manners. Nursing manners! Incredible! Now I have to fix what I didn't nip in the bud in the first place. I'm like a freakin' walking billboard for why women don't extended nurse. How did this happen?

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