Monday, February 25, 2008

For the love of the nursies

Welcome Carnival of Breastfeeding readers...
So the breastfeeding humor for me started when I was about eight. It was the early eighties. I lived in a hoity-toity town east of Boston, where most mums did the requisite six months or so of nursing and then switched happily to the bottle. But not my neighbor across the street. She was what I would one day become: the mum who just couldn't say no. Her daughter was a fiercely independent, fiery little creature with a temper like I still have not seen to this day. And until what seemed like a pretty ripe old age to me at the time, maybe 3? Maybe more? She would shove into her mother, tearing up her shirt and pulling out the weathered, tired breast, and say, in a voice that clearly communicated that there was no other option to be had, "Mummy! Nursies!" And on she'd go. My sisters and I thought we had had the last laugh on this. Whenever the neighbor girl's name would come up, even well into our teens, we would joke about whether or not she was still nursing. When my babies were little and would want to nurse, we would use the familiar phrase: "Mummy! Nursies!" And laugh.
But it had lost some of the humor to me long before my babies were nursing. When Charlotte died, the milk became symbolic to me: to give milk was the privilege of those who had sustained life. Poison darts shot from my eyes at women I knew of who had chosen to not breastfeed. To endure the agonizing pain of a new mother's milk undrunk ON PURPOSE? To make the choice to let the milk spill, to stand in the shower with it pouring down one's chest, for the choice of not nursing? Unfathomable, to me, and ungrateful, it seemed. Suddenly the milk seemed so much more, and my neighbor (the mother) seemed much more on my team than I had thought.
We'll skip Liam, his nursing, his adoration for the nursies (he called it mimi mook) and his weaning (successful and untraumatic weaning, I might add) and go straight to Aoife, the unweaned. Drastically unweaned. Completely unweaned. Loving the nursies.
It goes something like this,
"Need da nursies".
"You need to nurse RIGHT now? But Mimi is (fill in the blank-- cooking dinner, trying to sleep, playing with Liam, taking a shower)".
"I need da nursies. Aoife tired. I need a nap." (This might be about an hour after she has woken up, but if she takes a nap, she figures she might sneak a nurse in the rocking chair)
"Aoife, wait just a minute. Mimi is busy right now".
"I sick. I need da nursies."
"Just a minute, Aoife."
"I yuv you. I yuv you, Mimi."
"Oh, honey. Let's go have a little nursies."
We curl up in a chair. She has won again, and I don't care one bit. She's so darn clever! Not even two, and she sits there and goes through all the scenarios where I will definitely give her milk. Got to reward the girl for her intelligence, right? A little reinforcement for the use of a creative strategy? And plus, what's really important?

Later, I say to her, "Aoife, what's your favorite thing?
"Why? What do nursies taste like?"

Yeah... butter. That's cute, hey? You don't get that from the sweet little newborn, snuggled up to the big ol' boob taking in actual nutrition. Those are the words of the little snacker, who craves just the actual boob, not necessarily the butter inside it. Gotta love it. And you have to laugh.

I forgot to mention that this summer, when Aoife was age 1.2, my mother brought up the old neighbor again. Every time Aoife wanted to nurse, my mom would laugh, "Mummy, nursies". And so my dear daughter, who like her brother calls me Mimi, now says "Mummy, nursies", quite often when she craves the boob.
And who am I to say no?

Welcome Carnival of Breastfeeding readers! Other blogs participating in this Carnival of Breastfeeding include:
Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog

Breastfeeding 123

Mama Knows Breast

Breastfeeding Mums

Crunchy Domestic Goddess

Nurturing Notes


Meleah the Mommy said...

This is such a beautiful story. I am currently nursing 13 month old twins and my little girl is a double for your Aoife. She isn't talking yet, but she signs for her mimi's all the time -- even if she just had them. Her newest trick is to crawl over to the recliner pull up to standing and alternate tapping the seat with signing for mimi's. It is her little way of saying, "Mummy! Nursies!". I imagine it won't be long before she has an many tricks as your little Aoife. Thanks for sharing this touching tribute to toddler nursing.

Hobo Mama said...

That is so sweet. My baby signals nonverbally too now, but I look forward to funny stories to tell in the future.

I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your first daughter. Thank you for sharing about it.

Azúcar said...

Nursing a toddler is wonderful, and you can't know that until you do. My favorite is the night when my then 2 year old nursling unlatched and said "More." "More what?" "More ice cream please," and indicated the other side. Awwww? Ice cream? That's what it tastes like? Yeah, a newborn can't tell you that!

I've got an 11 month old nursling now, and I can't wait until he's verbal.

Lara said...

Love, love, love this. My oldest, Lily who is now 5 use to say fitch (switch) when nursing at about 18 months. She would say milky milky milky-loved the milk and I use to joke how I would be sending her off to college with pumped milk. For some reason I weaned her when she was 22 months-think she would still be drinking the moma's milk. Then when i had baby taz and he died after two days-and the milk came and a ached in my arms to hold him and nurse him-ahh how I wish I had never weaned Lily. Now our gorgeous little red head Lucia just had me laughing out loud. She is 6 months old and just nursed herself to sleep-drank so much so had milk dripping and all over her face-and though in an apparent milky still nuzzling in for more. Breast feeding is the most primal, lovey, loving,joy of joys. This one gets to have the milky til college! Thanks again for the great story-by the way it is Lara-Kim Bryant's aunt!

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