After the big TIME cover last week, extended breastfeeding is becoming a lot more mainstream. Most moms I know are pretty sure they want to wean around age one. But now that you’ve seen Jamie doing it, I would not be surprised if a few of you are thinking, Well, why not? Of course I’m mom enough. Maybe I’ll breastfeed into the second year.
And you’re probably thinking it’s going to be a lot of fun. She makes it look easy, right? You’re thinking it’s going to be all bonding and rainbows and unicorns.
Far be it from me to burst your bubble. Yes, breastfeeding a toddler is loads of fun. Far more fun than breastfeeding a newborn. And since now you can’t wait to experience it for yourself, let me tell you how it’s done.
1. Figure out what to give your toddler for breakfast. (Because after the first year, you’re supposed to offer healthy solids before breast milk.) This may require several tries. Several weeks of trying, actually. After weeks of attempting various meals, discover that your toddler loves scrambled eggs and smoothies. Ask her if she wants scrambled eggs and a strawberry smoothie for breakfast.
2. She says yes. And she wants to help make it. Let her climb on her stool and “help” crack the eggs.
3. Clean up the egg that she dropped on the floor.
4. Wash off the raw egg that she got on her hands while she was helping you clean up the egg on the floor.
5. Try to wipe the inside of her mouth clean of the raw egg she licked off her hands. Fail because she already swallowed it. Give up and reassure yourself it was organic egg so it probably won’t give her salmonella.
6. Put the eggs on the stove on low. Don’t let her move her stool next to the stove.
7. Get out the frozen strawberries and juice.
8. Repeat steps 2 through 4, replacing “egg” with smoothie ingredients.
9. Let her push the button on the blender.
10. Turn off blender quickly and clean up strawberries that flew everywhere because you forgot to put the lid on the blender because you are still half asleep because you haven’t had coffee yet.
11. Set her down at table with smoothie and eggs. Make coffee.
12. Twenty minutes later, she hasn’t touched food and is begging for mama milk. Decide you will eat her “leftovers” because you are starving.
13. While sitting at table, pull down shirt, pull up boob, and lean forward.
14. Eat the eggs and smoothie while toddler nurses standing in front of you.
15. Push her hand away every time she tries to twist your other nipple. Tell her, “No! You get one boobie at a time.”
16. Take her hand off your necklace before she pulls so hard she breaks it. Wonder why you are wearing a necklace. Wish you could find your nursing necklace.
17. Decide you are done nursing because your back is aching from leaning forward in awkward position. Tell her it’s time to unlatch. She grunts and wiggles closer, holding onto your boob with both hands. Tell her you are going to count to ten and then you’ll be done. Count to ten. She unlatches reluctantly.
18. Clean up smoothie and egg that you spilled on the floor because you were eating with one hand while leaning forward over your toddler’s head.
19. Sit on couch and watch toddler play while posting a Facebook status on your phone. (Your status says: “Anybody up for a playdate today? I have got to get out of the house STAT!!!)
20. Toddler stubs her toe, screams and climbs into your lap. She grabs at your boobs. You pull out the other boob.
21. She latches on and lies on her side.
22. Push her hand away as she tries to twist your other nipple.
23. Her feet wander up your side and onto your shoulder. She starts to kick. Her foot hits your face. Push her feet back down to the couch. Repeat indefinitely.
24. Your boob starts to hurt. You offer a snack. She reluctantly unlatches. Get some crackers and grapes. She eats 1.5 crackers.
25. You sit down on couch again. Friend’s mom calls and asks if you want to meet at playground. Heck yes.
26. Put toddler in carrier on back and walk to playground.
27. Meet friend at playground. Friend has brought a ball. Oh dear.
28. Your toddler tries to grab ball. Friend hits her and tries to grab ball back. She screams and holds onto it. They tug the ball back and forth as you and other mom chant in unison, “Share! Share! We must share the ball!”
29. After five minutes of watching them fight, you give up on teaching sharing and go for practicality. “Come here, baby! Have some mama milk!” you say, and your toddler drops the ball like a hot potato and stumbles back to you.
30. Sit on park bench. Since you have a tank top on underneath your shirt, you pull shirt up and tank down in an effort to be discreet. Toddler sits on your lap facing you and shoves your shirt up to expose your boob up to your neck. Give up on modesty and shrug apologetically at the other moms who stare at you in shock.
31. Realize it’s lunchtime. Say goodbye to friend and put toddler in carrier. Walk home.
32. Repeat steps 1 through 6, replacing “egg” with “chicken.”
33. Cut up cooked chicken and put on a plate with some grapes. Set on table. Make a similar plate for yourself and sit next to her. Eat while watching her throw food on floor.
34. Naptime. Carry her to bedroom and lie down with her. Nurse. She wiggles and kicks until her body is turned around so her feet are at your face.
35. Unlatch her, pick her up, turn her back around, and wrap your arms and legs around her in a “human swaddle” so she can’t move. Nurse.
36. She falls asleep. Wait till her breathing is slow. Unlatch carefully. She stays asleep. Roll slowly away.
37. Think about cleaning kitchen. Try to get up.
38. Wake up. You did not mean to nap. She is still asleep. Thank goodness.
39. Get up. Drink some cold coffee. Consider which mess in kitchen to tackle first.
40. Hear her crying.
41. Go back, lie next to her, and nurse. She does not wiggle. She lies still and peaceful and smiles at you around your nipple. Realize you are finally experiencing what you thought nursing a toddler should be like. Smile back.
42. She unlatches and says, “I love you, Mommy.” Your day is made.
I guess those people are right who say any mom who nurses that long is really just doing it for herself.