I am (still) nursing my toddler. She’s under 2 years old and it still works for us. Often, people are confused by this and imply that I should wean her and just buy organic milk to give her if I’m worried about cow’s milk. Umm, why would I buy something I can make for free, it’s more sanitary, more environmentally friendly, and I consider my milk to be pretty organic and much more suited to feeding my toddler than a mama cow’s milk. Not only is their argument illogical, but it speaks to a deeper problem I have noticed when talking with other moms.
I first noticed this problem when telling a joke –the scenario actually happened, so the joke is true, but the reaction was not what I had anticipated. Here’s the joke, “When my daughter was born I barely had time to take a shower and shave both legs, let alone wash AND condition my hair, so you can imagine the state my kitchen pantry and fridge must have been in! One day I found myself with Cheerios and no milk. Dammit! But then I looked down. My little nursling was napping and my boobs were full of milk. I had TONS of milk! I was so “consumered” into thinking I had to buy milk that it took a minute for me to make the connection that, Holy Shit Batman, I make my own milk!”
“Did you do it??” They would ask incredulously while grimacing a tight smile. And, astonishingly, before I can answer, they would proceed to tell me:
“Well, I just think that’s GROSS! UGH!”
“No, no way! Get outta here! That’s disturbing! Just have someone go out and pick you up some milk!”
“I couldn’t even muster up the idea to taste a drop of my milk. It was just DISGUSTING to even think about it!”
“I wanted to, a drop even fell on my wrist once, and I wanted to lick it off, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It just felt unnatural. So I wiped it off on the burp cloth instead.”
It turns out, the more moms I shared this story with, the more insight I got into how they viewed themselves, or how society has us viewing ourselves. It’s okay to drink from an animal living in the most despicable conditions (tottering on unfit even for an animal!), with a hormone-antibiotic-pus cocktail of milk that their baby calves never even get one sip of for that’s one less drop to sell to the consumers (and the calf instead grows up on an antibiotic-hormone-synthetic cocktail instead of their mother’s milk) –therefore calf-becomes-cow in a sick perpetuation of this cycle, and the “milk cocktail” gets sold to these moms who wean their babies in order to switch them to cow’s milk, because they feel & think it’s healthier than their own milk.
Also, wow. Holy body image issues. In a society where the perfume and scented soaps are gargantuan dollar industries (because I’m too lazy to Google the numbers and I’m not going to make them up) –we believe that we smell bad and are dirty stinky creatures. Women can’t even taste their own milk because they think it’s disgusting?? It’s not a booger. Your own infant is drinking it. It is not unnatural. It’s not some dirt off the floor. It’s milk. It’s the best kind of milk, because you know exactly what’s in it, whether that’s a Pop Tart or a salmon filet, and in either case, your milk is going to be more nourishing than cow milk.
So, when these moms tell me to wean my daughter so I can give her organic milk, I just nod and smile. Sometimes I’ll ask them if their toddler sleeps through the night and they’ll tell me that their toddler wakes up hungry in the middle of the night –but they just give them a bottle and they go right back to sleep. “Wow,” I say, “That seems like a lot of work. I just roll over and nurse her and we both go right back to sleep.”
Oh, and no, I never got to eat my cereal with my own milk. The baby woke up as I was figuring out the logistics of how to make it work (Do I pump? Should I hand express into the bowl before or after the cereal is added? etc…) But I will tell you that my milk tastes amazing. It’s sugary sweet and warm! Like most moms, breastfeeding can be a bit messy in the beginning and milk is like liquid gold. It is pure nourishment. One evening when my newborn was finishing up her meal a drop landed on my wrist, and I— I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.