I am not even sure why I said it, it just slipped out and as soon as I had said it I regretted it. It was a lie… so why, then, did I feel compelled to say ‘I am still breastfeeding’ in that half apologetic half explaining tone I have (it’s so annoying that I even annoy myself when I use it).
I am proud we are still breastfeeding at 26 months, and I shouldn’t feel like I have to explain and I shouldn’t have to feel sorry. I don’t feel sorry but I do feel sorry too. But why? Why do I feel apologetic for something I should proud about? Something that has worked for us. I have been thinking about why I said this silly phrase yesterday – and I think it boils down to the fact that since Boo turned 6 months I have been made, by lots of different people, to feel like breastfeeding is a burden, an obstacle, that it gets in the way? The G.P who sighs and reaches for his book to double check a prescription is safe as I ask ‘can I take that whilst breastfeeding?’ The dentist who asks ‘well can’t just just give up breastfeeding, or stop for the week’ so that they don’t have to change the antibiotic they want to give me. Every single person who asks ‘you’re STILL breastfeeding?’ in that slightly incredulous and baffled tone (with that hint of disgust they can’t quite hide) – which more than anything makes me feel like I should have to justify why we are ‘still’ breastfeeding.
I have lost count of the number of times I have been made to feel like I am being awkward and an inconvenience for breastfeeding – and not just by random people (who I know I really shouldn’t care about what they think) but those people who are supposed to support me, and my decision to breastfeed. It’s healthcare professionals too – the same people who pushed when I was pregnant and Boo was just born, for me to breastfeed. The people who all changed their tune the day Boo turned 6 months. Like we were just supposed to wake up one day, and change one of the fundamental pillars of her existence… just like that.
I didn’t breastfeed because I was told I should, I breastfed and continue to breastfeed because it’s what I believe is the best choice for my family. It’s that simple. Every single family is different and what works best for that family is completely individual. I am not sure why I face this attitude on a regular basis, and judgement about the choices I make, and I have heard of other mums who are ‘still’ breastfeeding similar aged children face the same kind of things. I wish I could believe that it’s just misunderstanding about breastfeeding – (yes of course I will give up for a week and then start again – are you going to explain this all to my toddler?). But sadly I don’t think this is the case and after 18 months of this attitude, and it slowly getting worse, it’s starting to get a little old.
Maybe it’s me and my stupid go-to half apologetic half explaining tone – but I fall back on this because I honestly feel that I have no other choice and isn’t that rather sad…