Why am I constantly nursing Anna?

Since I am not posting on Facebook anymore, I feel brave enough to write about the things I really want to write about because I know hardly anyone will read it.  I am not editing much or trying to create a masterpiece that I could sell off to a magazine. Nope, just writing what I feel like writing about today.  It feels good to do that.

And those of you who read this (I would love to know who you are, so drop me a comment while you’re here)  probably already know and like me and I don’t have to worry about offending you.  I hope.

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Anna will be 17 months in two weeks.

I nurse her more times each day than I can count.  I do it all the time, anywhere, whether there is milk in my breast or not.  I think her diet consists of 95% breastmilk and 5% food.

Anna also sleeps with me, nurses to sleep if she wants to, has her cries answered immediately (and usually soothed by nursing), does not use a pacifier, has never had a bottle, has not been spoon-fed, and spent almost her entire first six months on my body in a baby carrier.

What I am doing is pretty unusual in our culture, and I think some people are starting to wonder if Anna will ever stop nursing, will ever sleep on her own, or will know how to do anything on her own.  I can confidently assure these people that she will.  And I will tell you why:

This is the way babies have been raised since the beginning of humanity.

This concept has been coined The Continuum Concept by researcher, Jean Leidloff.

The following is quoted from Shirley’s Wellness Cafe.

“According to Jean Liedloff, the continuum concept is the idea that in order to achieve optimal physical, mental and emotional development, human beings — especially babies — require the kind of experience to which our species adapted during the long process of our evolution. For an infant, these include such experiences as…

  • constant physical contact with his mother (or another familiar caregiver as needed) from birth;
  • sleeping in his parents’ bed, in constant physical contact, until he leaves of his own volition (often about two years);
  • breastfeeding “on cue” — nursing in response to his own body’s signals;
  • being constantly carried in arms or otherwise in contact with someone, usually his mother, and allowed to observe (or nurse, or sleep) while the person carrying him goes about his or her business — until the infant begins creeping, then crawling on his own impulse, usually at six to eight months;
  • having caregivers immediately respond to his signals (squirming, crying, etc.), without judgment, displeasure, or invalidation of his needs, yet showing no undue concern nor making him the constant center of attention;
  • sensing (and fulfilling) his elders’ expectations that he is innately social and cooperative and has strong self-preservation instincts, and that he is welcome and worthy.

In contrast, a baby subjected to modern Western childbirth and child-care practices often experiences…

  • traumatic separation from his mother at birth due to medical intervention and placement in maternity wards, in physical isolation except for the sound of other crying newborns, with the majority of male babies further traumatized by medically unnecessary circumcision surgery;
  • at home, sleeping alone and isolated, often after “crying himself to sleep”;
  • scheduled feeding, with his natural nursing impulses often ignored or “pacified”;
  • being excluded and separated from normal adult activities, relegated for hours on end to a nursery, crib or playpen where he is inadequately stimulated by toys and other inanimate objects;
  • caregivers often ignoring, discouraging, belittling or even punishing him when he cries or otherwise signals his needs; or else responding with excessive concern and anxiety, making him the center of attention;
  • sensing (and conforming to) his caregivers’ expectations that he is incapable of self-preservation, is innately antisocial, and cannot learn correct behavior without strict controls, threats and a variety of manipulative “parenting techniques” that undermine his exquisitely evolved learning process.

Evolution has not prepared the human infant for this kind of experience. He cannot comprehend why his desperate cries for the fulfillment of his innate expectations go unanswered, and he develops a sense of wrongness and shame about himself and his desires. If, however, his continuum expectations are fulfilled — precisely at first, with more variation possible as he matures — he will exhibit a natural state of self-assuredness, well-being and joy.”

I believe in this with my whole heart, and that is your answer.  That’s why I am constantly nursing Anna.

I quit Facebook

That’s right, I did it.  I finally did it, and I am free.

Over the last three years, I have probably spent hundreds of hours keeping up with the lives of 267 people, most of wh0m I will never see in real life.  I am not sure why this has been so addictive, but it has.

I have come to care deeply about too many people and too many things, and it has interfered with my happiness.I’ve had too many thoughts and concerns about all of my Facebook friends, so many that they’ve cluttered my mind and kept me from myself and my own life.

The people who are a part of my real life will be able to contact me without Facebook.  Those people can follow my life through this blog and correspond through email. I haven’t abandoned anybody; I’ve just closed the door of constant contact and availability.  I’ve created distance–that distance we used to have before cellphones and internet and Facebook. That distance that I think it a natural and necessary thing sometimes.

Before technology, even before television and electricity, people knew how to entertain themselves and nurture real relationships.  They knew how to talk to people, how to make meals for people, how to do real things, how to discuss politics, how to make things, play instruments, tell jokes, play games.  They knew how to have a face-to-face conversation with a person and not have to look at their Blackberry twelve times.

People back then knew how to be a valuable part of a community, how to help others and how to accept help, how to make real food, how to put others and the community ahead of themselves.  They had real skills and valued real things that mattered.  Real things like hard work, faithfulness, honesty, and family.  Those are things I value, and I want my life and how I spend my time to reflect that.

So here’s to quitting Facebook, and having space in my mind for new adventures.