It's been the sick house here in the past week. Nothing awful, just one stomach bug and a few runny noses. We've been so lucky with illnesses in our family. I realized as I was sucking out Maeve's nose with the little blue bulb syringe that they give you at the hospital that it's the first time I've ever actually used the thing, and it's eight months into the fourth child. That means I've had some pretty healthy babies.

I really do believe that I give my kids a super jump start by nursing them for so long. I've been wondering a lot lately about how it was that Americans who nurse their babies decided on this arbitrary thing that you wean a baby around a year, thus making anything past that seem out of the range of normal. To me, it seems absolutely normal. I've done some poking around in the research by evolutionary biologists, and by all best estimates based on what they see with other primate species (based on dentition, height, weight, etc) biologists estimate that human beings in prehistoric times probably would have weaned somewhere between 5 and 7 years. Now, that being said, I can say for certain I would never send a nursling off to kindergarten, but it does make me wonder why the norm for weaning became so very young.

I notice that many people who wean their children around the year mark, or earlier, really equate nursing with feeding. Obviously milk is a food for a baby, but I see nursing as much more than food. It's my baby's biggest comfort, it's something that helps them sleep, it's a great boost for their immune system. Even for a little gal like Maeve, I've stopped long ago thinking of nursing as a feed. It's something we do to be cozy. I love to be cozy with her, and I can't imagine why I would try to make her stop nursing before she was ready to stop.

I am, however, curious to see how it will pan out as Fiona gets older. Aoife, who was still nursing whenever she could get her hands on me at the age of two, completely self weaned a few months before her third birthday. I never would have believed it possible, but she just became less interested, and would forget more often to ask, and gradually her nursing sessions were less fulfilling as my milk supply waned. But Fiona will always have a steady supply of milk because her sister will be still nursing for nourishment, and with the two of them going at once my supply is huge. I'm starting to encourage Fiona to think of nursing as something we do at home to be cozy, but we could be in that phase for a while.

It's not something I'll worry about. It will evolve as the girls grow older and I'll adapt to suit my comfort level and their needs. I'm so grateful that I'm able to nurse my children and produce a lot of milk. I don't take that for granted and I'm thankful every day to be able to share this experience with them.

1 comment:

  1. Carol, this is a beautiful little spot you have created and I enjoyed catching up with you here. I am in awe of what a big, handsome boy Liam has become (hockey!) and your girls continue to blossom in amazing ways, that is clear. Take good care, my friend.