Well, well, well the monster is now 13 months old this week. Meaning that I haven’t had a drink in… gosh how long? Since May-June 2016!
I’d absolutely LOVE an Aperol Spritz right now, but the monster and I have made so many memories together in these 12 months. Feeling her hands touching (more like scratching and slapping) my face. Her tiny fingers twisting my necklace charm. The weight of her body on my right arm. The bites — accidental and on purpose. I can never replace those.
At 13 months, we are officially in “extended breastfeeding” (EBF) territory. Extended breastfeeding is basically any length of time after baby’s first birthday. There are plenty of benefits to extended breastfeeding but that’s not the point of this post.
I never thought I’d make it this far. After all, I was planning on formula feeding. The monster had other plans, and the canister of powdered formula is sitting lonely in the emergency backpack.
I post a lot on my Instagram Story of me working while nursing or nursing my girl to sleep. It looks easy but it certainly hasn’t been.
Our biggest secret?
I can’t praise co-sleeping enough. Even though my futon can get cramped, it makes nursing at night so convenient.
Here in Japan, co-sleeping is common, and maybe that’s because of space restrictions. You might know about the custom of “sleeping on floor” on thin mattresses called futon (布団). Families sleep in the kawa no ji (川の字) position, meaning they sleep like the Japanese character for river (川), with a baby in the middle and parents on either side.
And, just like a river there are gentle nights with baby and fierce, raging nights.
For the most part, I get a decent amount of sleep. I will say that while I do get frustrated, my frustration doesn’t come from nursing. My frustration comes from my busy schedule. There’s so many time constraints, and I feel like I’m always on call (writing projects edits, interacting with y top engagers on Instagram and Twitter, emails).
Before I was writing, I had absolutely no problem staying up watching Netflix. Now, I have no idea when I’ll be able to catch The Punisher or season 2 of Stranger Things.
The Good Of EBF…
Japanese attitudes towards breastfeeding really shaped my perception of it, especially EBF. I’ve written about the awesome nursing rooms and how concerned neighborhood grannies are with my milk supply. No joke here.
Right around the time I started teaching again, I picked up this magazine that had a special insert for working/nursing moms. It has plenty of tips for dealing with pumping, engorgement, and weaning. While I can get all of that on social media, I do prefer books and paper. Less strain on my eyes, and I remember things better when they’re in my hand, and not on a screen.
The Bad Of EBF…
On the weekends it’s “milky time,” all the time. Comfort nursing drives me crazy — I’m not a human pacifier! But, it’s comforting to know that I can ease her worries.
Crying because I won’t let her pull the dog’s tail? Boob.
Bumped her head and now she’s crying because she did something I told her not to do? Boob.
And The Ugly TMI of EBF
I used to hate how Japanese bras have so much padding, and now those pads are my secret weapon!
Due to the monster being a picky eater, one side is significantly larger than the other. It’s especially noticeable when I’m engorged, which happens if I come home late from work. I took out the padding and have them on hand to fill out my nursing tops. There’s also great for absorbing leaks.
I don’t know how to fix the unevenness, but it’s honestly not that big of a deal to me. After all, it’s been an incredible journey. I don’t know when we’ll stop, but I gotta enjoy this ride while it lasts. Here’s to month 13 and beyond!