My mama would say that I've been a "readin' fool" lately. I just finished Breastfeeding and Fertility by Jenny Silliman last night.
I haven't met Jenny, but I know we would become fast friends if I did. Well, I may just hush and listen to her talk. She reminds me of a young Nancy Campbell. In fact, she quotes Nancy several times in the book.
Jenny's sweet spirit and calming encouragement really resonate in the pages of this book. Along with that, the ending of all 20 chapters has a resounding theme - breastfeeding delays fertility.
In posting this, I fear (okay, probably not the best word, but work with me) that some may think that I nurse my babies to delay fertility. In truth, this is not the case at all. When we decided to leave our family size to the Lord, we did just that and fully believe that God opens and closes the womb. Understanding that, also means understanding that God has designed a woman's body to nurse her babies for, what the world would call, an extended period of time. In the Bible, we see over and over wonderful references to the nursing mother and from further research, we find that babies were generally weaned between 3-5 years. Personally we don't go this long and I have never tandem nursed my babies. Usually about 2/3 of the way through a pregnancy, I will completely wean the youngest one and even this is a very slow process.
Here is how long I have nursed my children: C13 (never nursed :( ), P10 (11 months), B5 (20 months), L3 (22 months), A1 (15 months and going strong!). My cycle has returned at varying stages, but it was very dependent on how I nursed, and still no cycle with A yet.
My last two babies haven't had bottles. My last 3 haven't had pacifiers. My last 4 have all slept with us or close to us. Even with my oldest, before Big P and I got married, C13 would end up in bed with me along with a bottle (that I laboriously had to get up and make in the middle of the night). With my 4th, L3, I ended up starting my cycle at 7 months because I wasn't eating enough to sustain a good milk supply. I had a miscarriage not long after that.
With A1, things have been very different. He would not eat the solid foods I was trying to give him at 8 months, 9 months, 10 months, 11, and yes, even 12 months. At his first birthday he was treated with pudding instead of cake or anything of the like - because he would just gag.
In the midst of my frustration, I cried out to the Lord for Him to show me what to do. He gave me a peace in the midst of my self-created storm. I then went to the bookshelf and picked out Breastfeeding and Fertility. This was merely for breastfeeding encouragement, not the fertility side. Because I was in the middle of several projects, I just read the back cover and was immediately relieved of my frustrations.
The very things I was resenting and rejecting where the very things that God made my body to do, total mothering!
I was freed. No longer would I be concerned with what others thought about my nursing exclusively at his age (12+ months). He is on some solids - up to 2nd baby foods and 3rds on some things, at this point.
Jenny covers everything in this book and at the end has a list of 20 books she recommends on breastfeeding and mothering. Some of the chapters go into forgiveness (asking for forgiveness for not completely mothering at times, forgiving your own mother if she didn't nurse you, etc.), weaning, sleeping and more. Another reason I really I felt like I could relate to Jenny is because she has struggled with being overweight as well. She talks about nutrition, losing weight while nursing, and a small portion on what she has coined as W.E.A.L.T.H.S. (water, exercise, air, light, thoughts, healthy eating, and sleep - that's another post). She even covers, to a small extent, getting things done around the house when you are total mothering - including wearing an ERGO. I love my ERGO, but honestly I haven't worn it much to carry baby around so that I can get things done. Yesterday I strapped A1 on my back and went to town. He was so happy. Oh, and he is walking some for those that think it's absurd that I would carry a baby of his age on my back!
For quite some time I've considered myself a mother who loved all things natural. But accepting what is and completely embracing what God created you to do - those are different things and now I understand that thanks, in part, to this book!
art print from: http://store.encore-editions.com/Artists/Mary_Cassatt.html