Sunday, April 3, 2011

THAT Generation...

So, when I'm in my own home I don't have a problem nursing my two year old son and my almost six month old baby. But then there are the times when grandma is around. Any of them... and it makes me hide in a back room or redirect Chicken Little to play with something else.

Our grandmas gave birth at a time when "Twilight Births" were all the rave... they would wake up with ace bandages binding their breasts and would get to meet their baby's when they were a few days old. Hardly a choice about it... it was just the way things were done.

One of my grandmothers breastfed and the other did not. For the in-law side, I know one attempted breastfeeding and "just didn't have enough milk" and I'm not sure about the other one. My mother breastfed me to 11 months, and then when I was unable to latch during a cold and went on a nursing strike she considered me weaned. Roosters mom breastfed him to around two and a half, and even tandem nursed for awhile, but kicked him off of the boob because she felt like there wasn't enough for the baby. So, my husband and I come from a mix of breastfeeding and formula feeding backgrounds for extended family - but we were both breastfed.

I remember when Chicken Little was about 6 months old my grandma who did not breastfeed started making comments about not understanding what I would do if I wasn't a stay at home mom and that she thought I should be done by now. I tried to explain pumping, and she just thought it all seemed like a lot of work over something that just could be bought at the store. I wasn't about to argue with a woman who had nine children about how formula from the store is not equal to breastmilk.

My nursing of Chicken Little had pretty much been under the radar for family after probably 15 months old. No major holidays to showcase my behavior... he only asked for it before naps/morning time... not too many folks probably knew I was nursing him still. Then along came baby Chicklett and a flurry of visitors. The biggest visitors being my grandparents staying with us for 10 days. Living in my house. Being around us 24 hours a day. This was the grandma that did breastfeed... but I think it was under a year for any of her children. I wasn't sure how to broach the subject... and pretty much made a deal with myself to hide in bedrooms and keep it out of sight. Worked pretty well, until my son started to get more vocal about asking for "Boobies" and my husband didn't understand my subtle ways and would inform me that "Your son needs some boobs in the bedroom" right in front of everyone. ::face palm:: I don't know that they understood what was going on... and I never clarified. I just didn't want to explain myself. And I shouldn't have to. This is just what we are doing in our family. It would have been much easier to come clean to this BF grandma than to my FF grandma.

FF Grandma has been gone out of town since November and is returning next week. They live about an hour away and it's always a goal to go and visit once a month minimum. I often worry about the reaction from someone who frowned upon me nursing at 6 months if she saw me nursing at 31-35 months as the summer timing goes. Do I continue to hide it? Do I come clean before the issue comes up with some informative literature? It is such a tender subject because that generation was told formula was better than breastmilk, and worse yet they were barely given an option to even try to breastfeed. I don't want anyone in that situation to feel like they did anything wrong. Yet I don't want anyone to think I am doing something wrong. Mrgh!

BF Grandma will be returning for another visit in June and this will start all over again. What should I do? Come clean? Keep my subtle ways as much as I can? Advise please!


  1. I really think you should "come clean" as you put it, and offer some information about how good it is for both of your kiddos to be breastfed on demand and actually have developmental boost because they are allowed to self-wean- regardless of age. I think that if you approach it from a standpoint of "I didn't tell you before because I didn't want to offend, but I want you to know how important it is that we do what's best for our children. . ." that there's no reason it wouldn't go over "well"

    I see a grandma accidentally walking in on toddler nursing or tandem nursing as a bit more problematic :)

    Whatever you decide I hope you start to feel less conflicted about it! You know you're doing the best for your kiddos, you're comfortable with it, and that, my lactating friend, is AWESOME!

  2. They way I put it to my mom is... "I know that if you knew then what I know now you absolutely would have breastfed. It's a real shame that Doctors were so convinced that technology was better than nature then."

  3. I hope that when you broach the topic (because I feel you most definitely need to) that your grandparents are all open to hearing the info and not judgement. I only feel you need to in order to avoid a "horrified" discusdion/argument in front of your nurslings and if you set the time and place that can be avoided.

    I would definitely recommend laying it out under the auspices of "those horrible money grubbing corporations lied about how great formula was and recent scientific studies have shown..." Best of luck to you!

  4. Don't see it as coming clean, that makes it seem dirty or wrong. Just carry on as usual maybe locate some good posters on tandem and extended breastfeeding, maybe have an LC present by coincidence when they arrive. Make it clear you are only doing what instinctively you know is best and that it is backed by science and government. I understand how awkward it can be to provide fact and talk about these things but sometimes it is easiest, maybe if your close when they get there be like there's something I'd really like to talk to you about and talk to them about it but lay out the conversation beforehand to be as to the point as possible. If that isn't the case give a brief list of the benefits,when it comes up, there are after all no negatives at all and that's been scientifically proven and tell them if they're really concerned they can research modern information on both FF and BF because you already have and know whats best. Best luck and wishes to you, follow your heart!

  5. Personally, I tend to be of the belief that you don't owe anyone an explanation of your parenting choices. If it were me, I would simply carry on like normal. Your house, your kids, your choices. And if it comes down to "horrified" reactions or comments, you could calmly suggest that you discuss parenting opinions outside the hearing of your children. I wish you all the luck, because I know it's so different when you're living it, as opposed to typing about it from the other side of the internet :-)

  6. Well, I'm a chicken... (no pun intended). I would keep it subtle. Just because the way my and my husband's families are. I would never hear the end of it if I was still nursing my son at that age. My SIL breastfed her babies til they were 4. She got an earful many times from different ones in the family. I don't want to hear it all so my way would be to hide... but that's just me. I'm already getting questions as to when I am weaning him... and he's only 5 months old!

  7. i personally agree with Mama Mo wholeheartedly. When you're someone who is so sensitive to what others are thinking and feeling, it can be hard to know when to turn that down or off. When it comes to me and my family, i'm becoming more adamant every day that the only people it's up to discussion about is me and my husband. end of story. there is no debate. there is no need to explain. i frankly don't have to answer to anyone. it's not mean, it's just simple truth. part of me covering my family is not allowing them to be affected by politics and drama and teaching them the wonderful health benefits of simple boundaries, and yes, even boundaries with people older than them or those they might consider their elders. i respect my elders, but i'm not accountable to all of them, if that makes sense. respecting doesn't mean making my life an open book for them to approve or disapprove of. they had a choice in their own family and so do i and everyone has the right to do that without unnecessary scrutiny. now, if someone has some honest questions about what i do or why i do it, i have no problems whatsoever with that conversation. but if all that person wants to do is have me open myself to their approval or disapproval, then sorry. no way. i don't do that. i'm also finding that i am trying to cut down areas in my life where i have, in the past, felt it necessary to ask permission to do what i need to do. i'm not a child any longer. i don't need to do that. if it's time to breastfeed my little one, i'm not asking if it's okay for everyone that i do it. they're hungry, i provide food. it's that simple. now, out of respect, if i wasn't at my own home, i may move to a private corner or room to do so. but i'm not asking permission to actually breastfeed. if that makes sense. it's a balance. there comes a time when you have to realize you are not a child any longer, and you have the same rights as everyone else. and it's not my job to make everyone feel comfortable, it's my job to take charge of my life and my family and keep them healthy and full of life. :D hope that helps, that's just my story - and as mama mo said above, it's MUCH easier to say it or type it instead of live it. but i find that the more i go in this direction, it's much easier to just get my boundaries out there and feel able to live and breathe than it is for me to feel like i have to tiptoe around everyone all the time.

  8. I am jealous that you have enough milk for both kids! How long do you plan to nurse the older one?

  9. I'm glad I found you all! I'm in a small town up north and don't have a lot of support around here. :( Anyways, I have some of the same questions, as one Grandma is pretty quiet (on everything) and the other will definitely have a problem with is when I see her in the next couple of months. Being that my daughter is (almost) 9 months and almost EBF it might come as a shock to her. I figure I will probably level with her....I think. :)

    Hope you come to peace with what you need to do. Good luck, Mama! :)