Well, with all due respect, babies ask for it the minute they are born. They may not use the same words we do, but they most certainly ask for it. I totally understand that many people are weirded out by extended breastfeeding...wait, that's wrong. Actually I've found that many people are weirded out by women breastfeeding, period. Now, I don't blame these people...I blame our society.
I have to admit, I was one of them. I remember once when working my part-time job for a photography studio years ago...once during a session with a little girl who was almost 2, we had to stop so the mom and little girl could have a nursing session. I was totally weirded out! I mean, I knew women breastfed. That much I got. But I thought you only breastfed the babies until they could sit up or eat solid foods. I had NO clue.
But you know, the first time I'd ever really seen a woman breastfeed their child was when I was 24 years old. 24. Isn't that ridiculous? It was my sister feeding her daughter. I have a feeling if it weren't my sister, I probably wouldn't have seen it happen for another few years.
Somehow I knew I'd always breastfeed. I'm not sure why. My mom didn't breastfeed my sister and I. It was never discussed, not because we thought it was bad, just because it wasn't the norm any longer in our society. When I got pregnant, there was never any discussion between my husband and I whether we would breastfeed or not. It was just how it was going to be.
The question was "for how long." I initially said I would get to six months. After all, that's when they begin on solids, right? Then I researched some more. Once I read that babies are to get breast milk or formula for the first year of life, that settled it. Why in the world would I give my baby formula if I was already breastfeeding and doing very well with producing enough milk for my child. If a baby needs one or the other for the entire first year, I would not substitute the best thing I can give my baby for something commercially made.
Then once a year came, we were not ready to stop nursing...not even close! Our son was never sick the entire first year (except for one bout with a snotty nose that was caused by spring pollen). The first time he got sick, it was with RSV (very strange since it's common in daycares and he stays home). He was 17 months old. Now, RSV can be very dangerous to infants and usually involves breathing treatments and sometimes hospital visits and stays. We went to our pediatrician and he gave us instructions on what to do. Within hours he was better. Now, he still had to get over the virus, but given the fact that he was older than the average age a baby gets RSV and he was still nursing, he had that much more to fight the virus with. We were so thankful that he was still nursing to help keep him healthy enough to fight the nasty virus. Also, our pediatrician is fantastic and we are thankful he did not load our son up on unnecessary antibiotics. (Our son has never had antibiotics.) We were told to use an OTC decongestant for 3 days and use a saline drop as needed. Seriously as soon as we started using that and started clearing his nose, he was better.
Now, the health thing could just been good genes (which I'd like to take credit for!) but we like to think the breast milk has a little something to do with it! Why would we cut off the most nutritious food just because we reached a certain time? Clearly our son still needs the milk because he's still nursing and I'm still producing.
I wish I could explain better why I've totally changed my view on breastfeeding in general, but I really don't have an explanation. I look at my son when he's nursing and it's what we were meant to do. God knew exactly what he was doing. I was given the ability to completely nourish another human being for 6 months (could have been longer, it's just when we introduced solids). No supplements were given at all and he thrived. I think that is one of God's most wonderful gifts. The fact that my body can continue to produce milk in response to my son's nursing is all the proof I need to know that my body was meant to do this and I will continue doing this until my son decides it's time to wean.
I believe that the time is near. My supply is very low and my son only nurses now in the mornings after he wakes and before he goes to sleep at night. Only for a few minutes and he doesn't fall sleeping nursing. The other night, my mother watched him while we were out and she put him down for the night and he didn't wake up until his normal wake time, which further strengthens my theory that the time is near. It's definitely bittersweet. On one hand, it will be nice not to have to wear a nursing tank every night to bed, but on the other, it'll be sad to know my baby is growing up that quickly!