Breastfeeding: It takes a village — or at least a whole household

Breastfeeding is hard. Lesson learned on the first child. Breastfeeding is demanding. Lesson being re-learned right now. We have no 2-3 hour schedule around here, so feeding is unpredictable and frequent. I am physically drained and feel tied to my baby in a way that is simultaneously super special and heavily oppressive. My husband thanks me constantly for nursing these kids, and I need to be thanked sometimes. The kids obviously will not thank me now or later. Later, they might even not want to hear about it.

I prepped Julian for the nursing relationship I was to have with Scarlett by telling him at the end of my pregnancy that babies drink milk and that the milk comes from the mommy’s breast. I pointed it out a few times when we saw nursing mothers. He clearly thought this was a fine system. I feared he would feel excluded and angry. It turns out he is a two and a half year old lactivist, encouraging public breastfeeding whenever babies need to eat.

His support for my nursing Scarlett might actually be more than some women get from their friends or family. “Maybe you’ll stop nursing before you go to Mexico so that you can wear this dress,” I had an acquaintance say to me at a clothing swap party when I rejected a dress for logistics reasons. Good reason to wean, no? My son was almost six months old.

Over the past few weeks I have been laughing as Julian responds to Scarlett’s crying by turning to me and saying, “Does she need milk, Mommy?” or leaning into her face and saying, “You want some milk, Scarlett?” When I say that she does need milk, he might say to me, “Can you take out your nipple for her?” And today, I was incredibly touched when, after asking me to give his sister some milk, he said, “Do you want a pillow?”