My three year old son asked to nurse the very first night. He was two and a half at the time. He still does. There. I said it.
I've attempted to write this post a hundred times. I'm not ashamed. At all.I'm proud of all the work we've done and this was often a hard one. It's just that- - - - I tried researching- to find more about this 'phenomenon' and... could find very little. No one seems to talk, blog/write about it. All I have to go on is my own short 6 months with my own son. First hand knowledge should account for something, but writing it and pushing 'publish' - with no other back up material... ugh.
So lets' be clear. I'm no expert. I was winging it for a long time. There are a few resources, but most of them have to do with supplemental feeding your child. The articles I found most helpful- after much digging- had to do with breastfeeding mothers anxiety/questions/issues over their childs comfort nursing (and not feeding). WOW! That was an eye opener. Breast feeding kids comfort nurse too. Ok- so--- this is not completely unnatural! phew.
ETA: I never did research till in the midst of realizing I didn't know 'appropriate' from not in regards to this entire concept.
There is so much I could write. SO much detail- for a boundary challenged person- it would all be TMI. So I'll try to tell you like it is- without going to far.
The first time I ever heard of this "comfort nursing" was from a couple of private messages I received from some BTDT mom's. I had posted a question (in an ET adoption forum) about bottle feeding a child that age and whether or not I should attempt. Plenty of public response and discussion- but privately- the word was passed on "Don't be surprised if he asks to nurse."
"HUH? What?" I responded. "I've got nothing to offer! These puppies couldn't deliver milk if I was the milk man!"
They kindly explained that it was just for comfort and that I should be open to it.
Man, were they right.
The first night together, as I got dressed into my PJ's- Mr. Curious spotted, pointed and came over. He 'asked' if it was ok.
"Oh boy. Is he kidding? Already??" I thought.
"Yes. Yes. I nodded and sat down.
He didn't that first night. (He couldn't anyway. Many of you know he couldn't suck and I needed to teach him how to drink from a bottle for the first few days) but he continued interest and by the 3rd night he was suckling.
I didn't know what to do. I was literally winging it. I didn't want to force him to do it. But at the same time- I wanted to encourage him, as he was interested and it was the first thing my new son had ever asked of me. So I made a plan.
I would sleep in a tank top. A loose one that left me..."accessible". One that allowed him to be comfortable and explore without having pasty white lady br3ats in his face all the time. I wore the tank top often when it was just me and him- so that he was comfortable with me in that type of dress.
For him- he rarely suckled himself to sleep. It was literally and quick and long lasting comfort thing. 5 seconds or 30. Sometimes a minute or 5. But to this day- he finds comfort in my chest. It isn't just about the suckling. It is about the comfort he finds in knowing that I'm available.
We all have little scars, collar bones, neck muscles, skin tags, heart beats, breath sounds, skin folds, fat rolls. Something that they find comfort in. Landmarks I call them. Hears them. Touches them. Sees them. Feels them. Sometimes he tastes them. This is where six months brought us to. Landmarking... more than Nursing.
It wasn't always about comfort. Sometimes it felt almost desperate. As part of his grieving. He wanted me to be able to provide milk. "Whetat". He'd say over and over again. Trying so hard to put the bottle and me in his mouth at the same time. Eventually finding a spot to let the bottle drip down my br3ast captured at the nipple.
Painful to watch. Painful ache, that I couldn't give him more. Painful to see his greiving. And knowing- as I watch him struggle- he wasn't weaned before his 'transitions'.
We are close to him being 'weaned' off of me. I am fully open to him continuing, on an as need basis, for a full year. He'll be almost 4 by then, but only with me a year.
This past week, he's done little if any nursing and a little landmarking at bed time. But for the month of July! It was intense. Often, frequent and demanding. And then suddenly- done. (He's also sleeping in his own bed for the first time in 6 months this week too- so maybe a correlation?!?!?)
This, comfort nursing, did much to hasten our attachment process. It did NOT substitute all the other things we need to do for attaching.
I know I'm not alone in this. Since talking about this with a few adoptive family friends, they have all opened up about it- in private. One was surprised when it 'happened'. Another was home almost 4 months before her 3 year old asked. She explained he was too old and she wasn't comfortable with it. Another wanted her child to- but he showed little if any interest and she didn't know how to facilitate it for him. There are so many questions... and it remains so personal... but I also know many out there- with younger ones that may not be able to ask- that crave it- that need to know you're available- but can only scream, kick, fuss, bite out of frustration.
There is so much more. More I could say. TRY IT! BE OPEN TO IT- or at least be prepared for when your child needs it. I hope this made sense. I hope I've done the subject justice- or at least opened the discussion so that others may take it on. Peace out.