So, it's arrived - August 2008. The month that, in all of my great human "wisdom", I planned to get pregnant with our second child, thereby making our children two years apart.
Instead? I've yet to see even a hint of the return of my post-partum period.
15 months and not so much as a hint.
And here I was secretly ready to get pregnant again pretty much as soon as I gave birth.
It hit me hard in April, when my son turned a year old. Suddenly I was Ready. Yes, that's ready with a capital 'R'. But, sadly, no period.
A month later, my son started sleeping through the night (of his own volition). And still no period.
Now, having reached the month we "planned" to get pregnant in - and still no period - I'm having an even harder time with it. Yes, I am fighting the selfish desire to wean my son so that my fertility will return.
No, of course I won't wean him - but I can't pretend I don't find the idea horribly tempting right now.
And so - partially for the sake of my dear readers, but even moreso for my own sake - Why I Choose to Breastfeed my Toddler:
The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least the first two years of life. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least the first one year of life, and states that "there is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer." The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that children weaned before two years of age are at an increased risk of illness.
Nursing a toddler has numerous benefits.
For toddlers, these benefits include (but are not limited to)
stronger immune systems,
increased cognitive achievement,
reduced risk of excema,
reduced risk of diarrhea,
reduced risk of respiratory infections,
reduced risk of ear infections,
reduced risk of childhood diabetes,
reduced risk of heart disease,
reduced risk of pneumonia,
reduced risk of Vit A deficiency,
reduced risk of future autoimmune disorders,
and numerous psychological benefits.
For nursing mothers, these benefits include (but are not limited to)
a delayed return of fertility,
reduced risk of breast cancer,
reduced risk of ovarian cancer,
reduced risk of uterine cancer,
reduced risk of endometrial cancer,
reduced risk of bone disease and arthritis,
and easier post-partum weight loss.
And those are just the benefits related to extended nursing (nursing beyond a year), nevermind the many benefits of nursing in general.
Another reason extended breastfeeding is important to me is because our son remains entirely unvaxed at this point. The extra immunity he receives from me is integral.
Also, it is reassuring to me to know that on those days when he doesn't eat much, he is still getting an optimal balance of vitamins and nutrients that he wouldn't be getting from regular milk.
Finally, we nurse because he still wants to nurse. The comfort and bonding aspect is of huge importance to us. Nursing helps my little one fall peacefully asleep each night. Nursing makes owies better. Nursing allows an overwhelmed toddler to seek a few minutes of solace at his mother's breast. And on grumpy days, when my son and I find ourselves feeding off each other, nursing allows us to take a breather and quietly snuggle and reconnect, walking away a few minutes later in much better spirits.
How could I even think of giving that up?
And so I find myself, once again, acknowledging before God the folly in even thinking my life is mine to plan. I've seen it said recently - write your plans in pencil, then hand God the eraser. So, God, here's my eraser.
I know, truly, that natural spacing of children through extended breastfeeding is the ideal. I've long thought so. I just had no idea that it would work quite this well.
But hey - Jesus was breastfed, right? And during a time when weaning didn't occur until three years of age or later. According to that standard, we're not even halfway there!
Here's to another 20 months or so of cozy nursing snuggles.
Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast.
1 Thessalonians 2:7
But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.