I recently told someone that I breastfed my middle child for 34 months.
Thirty. Four. Months.
I had to do some quick math in my head, because I couldn’t believe that I had actually breastfed for that long.
But I did.
I breastfed through the sleepy newborn stage, when my baby was so tiny that I was afraid of breaking her, awkwardly holding her to my breast.
I breastfed her through many nights when she would “cluster feed” for hours at a time, while I watched hours of Netflix and munched on snacks all night.
I breastfed through the distracted stage, when she would look around at her surroundings, pulling my nipple along for the ride. My nipple would always magically boomerang back into place. Kind of.
I breastfed through the sicknesses, when she would nurse herself back to health, my breast covered in snot and drool.
I breastfed through the nightmares and the growth spurts, to comfort and to nourish.
And when I found out I was pregnant with my third, I continued to breastfeed.
I breastfed through morning sickness and perinatal depression. I breastfed while my belly grew and my body nourished all three of us.
I breastfed for 34 freaking months.
I breastfed through stares and snorts. I breastfed through jaws dropping to the floor and judgemental remarks.
When my daughter was two months shy of her third birthday, and her baby sister was two months away from entering this world, we bid adieu to our breastfeeding journey.
And that was it.
Those 34 months were special, and difficult, and some days felt impossible. But we did it and I am thankful for that time.
Breastfeeding for 34 months taught me one really important lesson: I do not care how you feed your baby. As long as you feed her, it’s none of my business how you do it.
I felt the judgement as a mom of an extended nurser, and I know friends who have felt judgement for choosing formula, or introducing the bottle early, or a host of other decisions they’ve made for their child.
And I’m here to say that this mama is judgement free. There is no room in my life for judgement, because if 34 months of breastfeeding taught me anything, it’s that we will do what works for us and our child.
We are are unique, with individuals needs and experiences, and our decisions as mothers will be as unique as we are.
Sometimes it’s a decision that may surprise others, but that’s okay.
All you moms out there, whether you’re feeding your baby from your breast, or bottle; boxed rice cereal or homemade baby food; Kraft dinner or zucchini noodles–you are are all doing a great job.
This sore-nippled mama is rooting you on.