I thought I’d be done with breastfeeding by now, but the world had other plans

Our accidentally-and-then-on-purpose extended breastfeeding has proved to be a gift for both of us.

I thought I’d be done with breastfeeding by now, but the world had other plans

My son and I began the process of weaning from breastfeeding months ago. He turned one in December, at which point I retired my pump and he began drinking whole milk with his meals. I felt ready to have my body back, and I wanted to wear clothes that didn't necessarily offer unfettered access to my chest.

But the habit of nursing—the way he might stop for a sip after an active hour of play, its place in our bedtime ritual, the comfort he sometimes sought from me and me alone—was hard to break. Almost every day, I'd set a new deadline: 2020. January 5th. 15th. 18th. 31st.

Each day my willpower cratered, I felt guilty and anxious and desperate, even though part of me simply wasn't ready. Around the same time, we were watching developments of the novel coronavirus like it was a slow-moving train careening toward us—first abroad, then on the West Coast, then right here in Chicago, which had become a hotspot.

Suddenly, weaning was no longer our priority. Instead, our accidentally-and-then-on-purpose extended breastfeeding has proved to be a gift for both of us.

Human breast milk is something of a biological marvel. (That said, many of its most dramatic benefits aren't well researched enough to prove causation; formula, too, is its own modern miracle, and those who can't or don't wish to breastfeed are not disadvantaging their children.) For one, it is not a static substance. Its composition changes over time—from golden colostrum to skim-milk-like to fatty and in-between. And perhaps most compelling in this time of coronavirus, it is rich in antibodies. Some studies (as well as anecdotal evidence) suggest these antibodies help activate the immune system or protect against some illnesses, especially in newborns.

So in a time of heightened anxiety about illness of any kind—like many people, worries over coronavirus have been attended by a deep-seated paranoia, and a desire to avoid the doctor as much as we can—I am grateful for any balm.

I do not know how much or whether our breastfeeding actually contributes to my son's health, or whether it is a mere placebo, but I believe in its effects all the same. Put another way: Breastfeeding has been good for me.

Anxiety has become a constant backdrop to my days amid the pandemic, so I have made a conscious effort to reduce stress where I can. Continually setting and breaking deadlines was more than I could bear. Breastfeeding also works by triggering the feel-good hormone, oxytocin, in the mother to cause milk to let down, and during a time of heightened global anxiety, when good news is scarce and new worries surround society's reopening, I need more good hormones to counteract the potent cocktail of adrenaline and cortisol.

I never would have predicted we'd be in this position.

In the beginning, I wasn't sure we'd be able to breastfeed at all—though not for lack of trying. When a lactation consultant came to my home for the first time, just a few days after my son was born, we were struggling. He was mildly jaundiced, and I was convinced that, despite the injuries my breasts had sustained in the act of nursing, he wasn't getting any milk. The first thing the lactation consultant wanted to know was what my goals for breastfeeding were.

At that point, the chasm between what I'd imagined and our reality felt vast. I've never met a recommendation I didn't want to achieve, and I'd read all the literature. But motherhood wasn't as simple as setting a goal and achieving it; birth had already taught me that I needed to hold my goals a little looser, but only just so. So I told the lactation consultant six months, but that ultimately I just wanted it to work, for us to have a chance to really try it. It took six months for breastfeeding to come naturally to us, and so that goal turned to nine months, then, with some finality, 12.

I found breastfeeding strange, and strangely beautiful. In quiet moments late at night, when our baby was still new, my husband would look at us in awe and remind me of this primal miracle, that for our son's entire existence, it was I who nourished and grew him. That is no longer the case now, but nursing still has a place in our lives even though—or maybe because—our needs have evolved since then.

I was focused, when we first started to wean, on the superficial benefits of no longer breastfeeding, and the idea that I would one day be autonomous, that I wouldn't have to be the one my son insists on putting him in his crib at night. But amid this once-in-a-lifetime crisis, I'm grateful to snuggle a little longer.

In This Article

    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in outside-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

    Sunday Citizen

    I live in the Northeast and when I woke up this morning, my house was freezing. It had been in the mid 40's overnight and we haven't turned the heat on yet. Suddenly, my normal duvet felt too thin. The socks on my bare feet too non-existent. Winter is coming, and I'd been drinking rosés still pretending it was summer.

    I couldn't put it off any longer. It was time to do my annual tradition of winterizing my home—and I don't mean making sure my pipes and walls have enough insulation (though obviously that's important too). I mean the act of evaluating every room and wondering if it has enough hygge to it.

    If you've never heard of hygge, it's a Danish word that means a quality of coziness or contentment. And what better time to make sure you have moments of hygge all throughout your house than right now? As far as I'm concerned it's the only way to get through these dark winter months (even more so during a pandemic.)

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