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I Nursed My Son For 5 ½ Years

Six things this mama learned while nursing her toddlers.

I Nursed My Son For 5 ½ Years

This winter I achieved something that felt impossible--I weaned my son and his brother after 5 and a half years of nursing. Looking back over that journey, here are a few things I learned along the way.

1. Expectations and goals change…and that’s ok.

If you had told me when my son was born that I would be nursing him till he was 5 and a half, I would have said you had me mixed up with another mom. I planned on breastfeeding my baby, but did not identify myself as the ‘earthy-crunchy-type mother’ who I imagined extended breastfeeding past infancy. In the beginning, like so many new mothers, breastfeeding did not come easily. I was in pain, exhausted and overwhelmed. One night, in the wee hours of the morning, as I cried from my bleeding, scabbed nipples I decided to simplify my expectations and take things one day at a time. Understanding that feeding a baby can be a full-time job helped me overcome the intense feelings of inadequacy that made me want to quit. Had I known then that there is no shame in asking for help, I could have received much needed support in the in the form of a CLC or IBCLC consultation, La Leche League meeting or breastfeeding mothers group. Even without intervention though, nursing eventually got easier for both me and my baby, becoming second nature, and my 6-month goal came and went.

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2. I changed.

I never set out to be the gal nursing the 50-pound kindergartner. Like so many ideas I had about parenthood, I ended up keeping what worked for me and discarding the rest. I imagined that my baby would naturally lose interest in nursing. I thought I would need to create a firm ending time for breastfeeding. When neither one of those things happened, I realized my thoughts around weaning had nothing to do with me and my kids’ welfare and more about wanting to conform to cultural norms. My notions about how long a ‘good’ breastfeeding relationship should last changed and I decided to just reevaluate me and my sons’ interest in nursing as time passed. I started to understand that stereotypes of different styles of mothering were a fallacy and boundaries and identities were much more fluid than I originally thought. It wasn’t only so-called ‘earthy crunchy moms’ who pursued extended nursing, it was me too. As I began to shed my notions about what “type” of mother I was and I wanted to be, I became much more flexible. I understood that my choices don’t have to confine me and I can change my mind without having an existential crisis.

3. I don’t need to explain my choices to others.

Though my family members supported my decision to continue breastfeeding till toddler hood and beyond, some seemed visibly shaken when it happened in their presence. I tried to be understanding when my sister launched into an awkward public conversation about how uncomfortable she is seeing children who have teeth breastfeeding. At first, I was happy to provide an educational angle on nursing, an anthropological analysis and statistics in response to people’s probing questions or uneducated comments. I graduated to sarcastic remarks and jokes to alleviate their distress. Finally, I stopped explaining. People’s discomfort, I realized, has very little to do with my decisions. Breastfeeding is one topic in an extensive list of issues related to our bodies about which we, as women, are taught to feel shame. I realized that I had a choice to not internalize other people’s uneasiness--I owed no one an explanation on decisions I deemed best for me or my child. This realization helped me in many parenting arenas where we are taught to tear each other down for our decisions and helped me foster a ‘live and let live’ philosophy that serves me to this day.

4. It’s okay to hate nursing sometimes.

Did I love seeing my kids and my nursing bond develop over time? Yes! Did I get sick of doing it every day and night? Absolutely! The feeling of being on a roller coaster was magnified after I gave birth to and began also nursing my second son 3 years later. One minute, I would be tearing up at the boys stroking each other’s faces or holding hands while they tandem nursed. The next moment I would be praying they would stop so I could finally put a shirt on. My relationship with my own body during the postpartum period was already complicated, and adding other human’s needs into it made it even more complex. Doing anything for 5+ years is going to be difficult at times, but doing something that requires presence and loving attention sometimes felt like an impossible undertaking.

5. Embracing the boob nickname is ok.

Mine were ‘nas’. My friends’ were ‘nu-nus’ and ‘ba-bas.’ After a while, I forgot my chest ever had another identity. For us, the name has stuck. Just the other day my son measured himself against me and declared he was ‘as tall as the nas.’ Wow, he is getting tall.

6. I was sad AND happy when it was over.

When I pictured my kids and I deciding mutually to end breastfeeding, the scene is emotional, poignant and ends with me journaling over a glass of pinot. As with most of my fantasies around parenthood, the reality of how it went down was messier and much more sober. I decided to wean on a December day, in the harsh fluorescent lights of a Rite Aid as I filled a prescription for antibiotics for my second round of strep throat. As I pondered the potential side effects for my (also sick) boys, I decided to wean them rather than chance giving them gastric troubles from their exposure. After being sick for weeks, I was at my absolute maximum. It became a decidedly unemotional decision. That night I put some Band-Aids on my nipples and began explaining the sad news--just like us, the ‘na’s’ were sick.

The boys accepted the change, but the transition was the opposite of what I had wanted. It was abrupt and lacked consensus of us as a family. My heart broke a little every time they tried to help heal my boobs with get-well cards and snuggles. After mourning my idealized weaning experience, I know I made the decision for me and my sanity. If there is one thing I know, it is that a sane mom is the best mom. My sons and I still have a lot of touching and physical closeness and they remember nursing fondly. Weaning, like nursing, was just one more shift in our ever-evolving journey through their childhoods. I was lucky and privileged to have breastfed for that long. I know the developments and challenges; twists and turns are the nature of my journey as a woman and as a mother. As long as I stay adaptable and open to change, I know it is all okay.

Written by Christine Powers.

This year many of us have a tighter budget than usual given (looks around) everything that has happened. Coupled with the uncertainty of what Halloween might look like, many of us are reluctant to spend money on brand new costumes that our kids will outgrow by next year. I get it. But I also know that many, like me, love Halloween so much. I thought about skipping the celebration this year, but that just feels like too big of a disappointment in an already disappointing year.

That's why I started looking into alternative costumes—something my kids will be able to wear once the clock hits November, and maybe even hand down to siblings and cousins in the coming years. At the same time, I'm not a DIY person, so I wanted outfits that didn't require any sewing or hot glue. Last year I attempted using one to build my son's Care Bear costume, and of course, I burnt my hand.

So with some creativity (and the brainpower of my colleagues), we came up with these costumes that are both fun and practical, made with items that your children will be able to (and want to!) wear year around:

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

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If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

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Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

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Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

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