In celebrating my baby's first birthday, I had a lot of things to organize. She is a Thanksgiving Day baby, so her birthday falls around a holiday.
We traveled by car from Southern to Northern California for the long weekend, and celebrated with family up there on Saturday. Then drove back down Saturday evening and celebrated at our home with more family on Sunday. Because we haven't introduced any of the common allergens to the baby yet (wheat, egg, dairy), I prepared to make her a vegan, gluten-free cake with vegan, gluten free icing for each party so that we could get the traditional cake-in-the-face photos for her to have when she's older. We shopped for the holiday gifts we'd be leaving with family to open in December. We stayed up all night packing, and we got on our way.
Between the exhaustion of travel, the disruption to the kids' sleep patterns (and ours!), and the joy of celebrating baby's birthday, it wasn't until after it was all over, I realized that I had my own milestone to celebrate – a full year of successful nursing.
In all our planning, I completely forgot to buy my own daughter a birthday present, from us or from her big sister. But I've already given them both the greatest gift possible through breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding has been tied to everything from higher IQ to stronger immune system to lower chance of allergy and asthma to better dental health. My girls have a higher chance of me staying healthy by lowering my likelihood of developing breast and ovarian cancer. We bonded in a way that only a breastfeeding pair can. Breastfeeding started us down the path of respectful parenting, positive discipline, homebirth, healthy eating and holistic living.
Breastfeeding led me to quit my 40-hour a week job and discover the joy of full-time motherhood first and then entrepreneurship. If I hadn't breastfed, I would have simply handed over bottles of formula and my four-month-old to the daycare provider at my workplace and headed up my office. Breastfeeding changed our lives.
When I was interviewing for my first client when initially starting contract work, I was asked to share my biggest accomplishment. Without a pause, I said, "breastfeeding my daughter." It was harder than I ever knew something seemingly simple could be. With the help of wonderful lactation consultants and the support of my amazing husband, I have now officially raised two kids formula-free. And while this may not be a big deal to everyone, it is a huge victory for me.
So, if you are still nursing when your one, two, three (or more)-year old has a birthday, remember to celebrate yourself as well. Take a moment and celebrate your Nurse-A-Versary. Arrange with your spouse or someone in your support system to give yourself a little treat – even if it's just sitting outside with your favorite magazine until it's time for the next feeding.
But also take a little dedicated time with your nursling, alone in a quiet room and celebrate, just the two of you, the wonder of breastfeeding. Because while sometimes breastfeeding seems never-ending, all too soon it will be over. So hold your baby and "latch on," not just for now, but for life.
For a great book on extended nursing, check out "Mothering Your Nursing Toddler" by Norma Jane Bumgarner –
Disclaimer: All material on the BellaOnline.com Breastfeeding website is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Although every effort is made to provide accurate and up-to-date information as of the date of publication, the author is neither a medical doctor, health practitioner, nor a Certified Lactation Consultant. If you are concerned about your health, or that of your child, consult with your health care provider regarding the advisability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your individual situation. Information obtained from the Internet can never take the place of a personal consultation with a licensed health care provider, and neither the author nor BellaOnline.com assume any legal responsibility to update the information contained on this site or for any inaccurate or incorrect information contained on this site, and do not accept any responsibility for any decisions you may make as a result of the information contained on this site or in any referenced or linked materials written by others.