Each week, we feature moms who breastfeed. We've found that moms breastfeed for a variety of reasons and a variety of lengths of time. In 2015 we're putting special emphasis on moms who practice full-term breastfeeding (also known as breastfeeding past one). We're honored to be sharing some of Lydia's story today. She's due to have a baby girl any day now...so send her some love and encouragement! And if you want to participate in the Breastfeeding Project or Breastfeeding Past One, send an email to email@example.com
When you began breastfeeding, did you imagine that you would breastfeed past a year?
My goal in the very beginning was to breastfeed to one year and then evaluate if we should go past the one year mark. As his first birthday approached, I knew that neither of us was ready to start weaning
When you reflect your breastfeeding relationship, how would you summarize it?
Constantly changing! Our relationship constantly changed as he grew. Throughout each stage, I had to learn to go with the flow (literally, at times). We had minor challenges in the beginning, then got into this beautiful, seamless groove, then moved into the biting and “gymnurstics” stage, back into beautiful, then on to unpredictable.
How has your breastfeeding relationship evolved over time?
In the very beginning, breastfeeding seemed to consume the majority of my day. He was an eager and frequent nursling, oftentimes demanding that he get his milk NOW! At times, this constant demand was challenging. As he grew and other foods were introduced, his nursing slowed, but it remained a sacred part of our day. He still nurses on demand, but has a random and infrequent schedule. We can go one week without nursing and then he’ll nurse sporadically for a few days.
What do you know now that you wish you had known at the beginning?
Nothing stays the same for long – enjoy the stage that you are in while you are there because it will change before you know it. In the beginning when we would have marathon nursing sessions, I felt as though I would never do anything with my life besides feed my child. I almost resented how much he nursed because I couldn’t see the end of that pattern. Before I knew it, he was on to the next stage and did not want as much time with me. Immediately I missed the connection, the forced relaxation, and those glorious cuddles. As our relationship evolved, I learned to just enjoy where we were at and not wish away any part of it.
What has the hardest part been?
The hardest part for me has been to accept that this relationship constantly changes.
If you plan to have more children, would you do anything differently next time around?
At the time of these photos I was pregnant with baby number two! The biggest change I plan to make is to savor the newborn marathon nursing sessions more. They don’t last long!
What is your favorite part of your breastfeeding relationship?
I am unable to name my favorite part of our breastfeeding relationship because so many positive things have come from it. Breastfeeding not only formed an incredible bond between my son and I, but it also gave me purpose during a postpartum period that oftentimes felt stressful and uncertain. Knowing that my body was directly keeping my child alive was very powerful and gave me strength and courage in other areas of my life. This confidence helped me tackle parenting and life challenges and our nursing sessions offered a respite from life’s ups and downs.
Is weaning on your radar?
Weaning is both on and off the radar. Now with our second child coming, I have days where I want to tandem nurse and days where I want to only have one active nursling.
How do you plan to approach weaning when that time comes?
I’ve always felt that my son would wean when he was ready. As he approaches his second birthday, his nursing has significantly slowed and he averages about once per day. For now, I plan to enjoy the journey with him as long as he’ll let me. I’m letting him lead.
Any advice for new nursing moms?
My biggest advice for new moms, whether nursing or not, is to be kind to yourself and have patience. It is impossible to be perfect. This is new to you and the transition into parenthood is not a gradual one. It is ok to set goals and have ideas about how you want to approach this new journey, but remember that it is also ok if you have to make changes along the way. If you are like me, you need permission to be imperfect. So, precious mama, this is me giving you permission. Go enjoy the beautiful mess!