Yes, she’s 4, and yes, she’s still breastfeeding.

This is Gabriella.  She’s my youngest daughter, and she turned 4 in December. 

Two weeks after her 4th birthday, Gabriella underwent a 3-hour craniofacial surgery to resolve a rare birth defect.  Two pediatric neurosurgeons and a pediatric plastic surgeon cut open my little girl’s head in an incision that wrapped from ear to ear.  They pulled her scalp and most of her face down, and scraped dermoid tissue from the bone between her beautiful eyes, reaching into the suture line to ensure my baby does not have to deal with the invasion of foreign tissue into her brain later in her life.

It took her a long time to wake up.  She ran a little fever in response to the anesthesia and the incredible shock to her system from having her face taken off.  Gabriella was so, so brave and compliant, letting the nurses adjust the tubes and probes that were all over her in the recovery room, content to rest if I held her hand.

We were admitted to her room later in the afternoon, after the recovery nurses felt comfortable letting her go.  Gabriella was starting to wake up, and was so happy to see her brother and sister when they came to visit the children’s hospital.  She was excited to show them the big fire truck to play on and the rooms filled with toys and activities.  With 5 days until Christmas, Santa Claus found some time to bring presents to the children in the hospital, and Gabriella was delighted.

But the morphine made her sick.  She was hungry and thirsty, but even ice chips made her throw up.  “I don’t want to throw up again, mamma,” she told me in her tiny, weak voice.  “I think nursies will help me.  Can I nurse?”

I had anticipated this moment for the months leading up to Gabriella’s surgery.  Her siblings had each weaned before their 4th birthdays, and I expected that Gabriella would do the same.  I half-hoped I would have breastfeeding as a tool to help my little girl through her most difficult life experience to date, but the rest of me worried that she might not wean and I would find myself on the defensive.

You see, we live in a time and place where we would rather see a magazine teeming with images of scantly-clad women on a beach than a mother breastfeeding her child on a bench.  A toddler who climbs into his mother’s lap to breastfeed is viewed as stunted and spoiled; his mother is accused of being a slave, or, worse, being a pedophile.

I worried that even the healthcare professionals charged with my daughter’s healing would strike me down if I comforted her at my breast.  I thought about how I might carry Gabriella, in her little hospital gown with happy tigers romping around on it and her IV line, into the not-so-clean, poorly lit bathroom in her room and let her nurse, with the door closed, while I sat on the toilet. I considered whether I might just nurse her in her bed and receive any confrontations that came our way, praying none of the staff were so ignorant of normal human biology as to call Child Protective Services in to investigate us.  This anxiety came on top of the worry that we hadn’t taken care of everything through our insurance, that my job might place unreasonable demands on me when my child needed me the most, that, maybe, something unexpected would happen during the surgery and my joyful little girl would emerge from it changed … or not emerge at all.

“Yes, darling.  Mamma will nurse you.”

We arranged her IV line so that neither of us would be on top of it.  We laughed when the automatic movement in the mattress, intended to change the position of the patient to prevent bedsores, surprised us as we got settled in to nurse.  Her eyes were puffy with fluid that was draining downward from her head, but I could see the relief in them.  It didn’t matter that we were on a plastic sheet on a noisy hospital ward with narcotic-induced nausea (hers) and utter exhaustion (mine).  She latched on, and we were home, safe, and together.  Gabriella nursed to sleep, and I drifted off, too, for the first time in days.

The shift nurse came in to check Gabriella’s vitals when she was still attached to me.  She smiled and asked “she’s holding that down OK, I take it?”  I made a joke about there not being much there anymore, but added “she doesn’t seem to mind.”  The nurse didn’t challenge me or attack.  She didn’t accuse me of molesting my sweet girl.

Yesterday, though, when TIME Magazine released its controversial cover photo of a mother and her preschooler, awkwardly and unnaturally posed with him standing on a chair with her nipple in his mouth and her staring vacantly at the camera, the accusations flew.  America called me “a feedbag for a bratty child,” wondered “how the hell is the kid going to survive kindergarten if he can’t go without boob at every meal?”  I was called “a slave to my kid” and told I am not teaching my children how to respect me, or anyone else, for that matter, by “indulging them.”  My children were called “overly dependent,” “unable to ever solve problems for themselves,” and “they’re gonna expect everything handed to them on a silver platter when they’re adults.”  I was directed to “cut the freaking cord, already” and to “stop getting your jollies off your kid sucking on your tit.”

I am thankful my children, at 9, 7-1/2, and 4, are unaware of what the society around them supposes about their lives.  They all remember breastfeeding; they still seek comfort in me, their mother.  The foundation is there for an enduring, loving relationship.

Being Old Enough to Ask for It doesn’t forbid a child from receiving comfort from his mother – however that mother chooses to comfort her child.  The older child isn’t breastfeeding all day or to meet nutritional needs, he’s nursing a few times a week because he still needs that “home base” connection to his mother, and breastfeeding has provided that basis since the moment he was born.  The preschooler who still breastfeeds goes to school with your children, but she doesn’t talk about nursing or cry for nursies at rest time – she behaves in age-appropriate, developmentally normal ways (and if she doesn’t, breastfeeding isn’t exacerbating whatever the issue is, rest assured of that).  Breastfeeding my 4-year old, postoperative child wasn’t disgusting, it was normal.  Nursing her back to sleep a few nights ago when she woke up in the middle of the night wasn’t indulging her, it was loving her the way she has come to expect to feel love and comfort from me, her mother.

Gabriella looks back on her time at “the hospital hotel” with smiles.  The hair that was shaved to allow the “boo-boo” is shorter than the rest of her hair and a little hard to control at 5 months post-op, but she puts on a headband and gets on her way.  She experienced no emotional trauma and has no lingering fears or worries about visiting doctors or being subject to tests (she spent nearly two hours AWAKE in the noisy tube for a full spinal MRI just a few months ago, in fact).  Might Gabriella be so confident and stable, even in the face of tremendous adversity, if she wasn’t still breastfeeding?  Perhaps she would be … but I’m thankful she and I know what’s best for her today, and I’m committed to ensuring families are not deprived of accurate information about the normality of breastfeeding an older child.

273 thoughts on “Yes, she’s 4, and yes, she’s still breastfeeding.

    • You are a wonderful mother and she is a very lucky little girl. (and adorable to boot!) I have a darling 3 almost 4 year old who just weaned fully about 4 months ago. I tried weaning her at 2.5 but knew after a day and a half that SHE WAS NOT READY. I made her, I grew her inside me and I vowed to be there for her. She needed me for comfort and stimulation. She was diagnosed at 3 with mild to severe autism, sensory modification disorder (the new specific term for the better known Sensory Processing Disorder) and sensory related Pica(Pica is usually a nutritional need but many sensory kids have it while perfectly healthy.) Her breast feeding did make me a slave to her and I often hated having to do it. Not because I do not support prolonged BF but because unlike your preschooler mine was demanding nursing every few hours day and night. I was exhausted and felt like I had a newborn. I also am a single mom so I rarely got a break. If I refused her a full melt down occurred, We are talking hours of screaming, rocking, and hurting herself. She was not being a spoiled brat she was hurting inside her own body, her own nervous system betrays her. What kind of mother would I be if I let her hurt? And, so I nursed. I lost sleep and independence because it was the right thing to do for my little girl. But, then I had to allow her father to take her for a week out of town. I pumped as much as I could but I have problems letting down for a pump. During that week I lost much of my supply even on a nursing diet and pumping. I wont lie I hoped the week would be enough to break her from nursing so often and hoped that the nursing could be just a comfort during sensory overloads. When she did come back she refused to latch and instead began eating wholes in her own hands. I kept offering the breast and she refused and for 3 months she covered her mouth with her hands which was dangerous because she has poor muscle tone and falls a lot and could not catch herself. It also limited her therapy and school work. To protect her hands I found her a pacifier that was touch enough for a child her age and every time I looked at her nervously and obsessively chewing it or her hands my soul cracked in half. Slowly she depended on the pacifier less and less. But, in the past week she has had several lifestyle and routine changes and has wanted my breast. The milk is long gone but I have allowed it and if any one has any thing unsupportive to say to that they can kiss my…..well I will keep this clean.

    • maybe Time magazine could have an article like this that celebrates the role breastfeeding can have in older children….in sickness and in health…
      what a wonderful gift to give to a nauseated, post op child…

  1. Thank you for sharing this, your daughter is beautiful and a very lucky little girl. My own daughter turns 4 next month and in her world nursing is the norm. I do worry sometimes that an outside influence will spoil that, thanks again. ~ Angela

  2. How I hope the staff noticed that Gabriella was able to keep the “nursies” down when she couldn’t keep anything else down. That’s a message to the medical profession, folks! What a beautiful story — thank you for sharing this. I’m so very glad you didn’t get hassled, and that you were able to provide something for your precious daughter that no one else could.

  3. Did your daughter have craniosynostosis? My son did and at both surgeries his doctors were thrilled he was still nursing (9 months and 2 years). It provided such a source of comfort, especially when his eyes swelled shut. In the PICU all he wanted was “numnums” and he could have that before solids. It was a horrible experience that nursing made slightly better because of the comfort it provided both of us.

    • My son had Craniosynostosis as well, it sounds like this sweet little girl had something different, something to do with tissue? My son had his repair done at 8 months and I was so thankful we could breastfeed when his poor little eyes were swollen shut for so many days! I like this bog, it was very sweet and shows just what extended BFing is used for, comfort!

      • Hi Jessica, Gabriella had a midline nasal dermoid cyst. They’re pretty rare and are usually taken care of much sooner, but I struggled through many surgeons before I found one who really knew what he was looking at. For us, the only issue will be periodic brain MRIs to make sure there’s no recurrence … but we get to wait several years until the next one. 🙂

    • My daughter had craniosynostosis and had her surgery at 7 months. Thankfully her eyes never swelled shut and she healed very fast. The nurses were very helpful in assisting me to nurse her even with a board taped to her arm and her drainage tube. She’s 4 now and still very proud of the scar across her head, and I think a little upset that her younger sister doesn’t/won’t have one.

      Also, your daughter is a pro, staying still in that MRI machine, good for her!

  4. Thank you for your story, my son gave up nursing at 3 1/2 but still asks to nurse sometimes. He sees my breasts as a source of love and comfort, not a sexual object as people with no understanding think.

  5. Thank you for that uplifting story. With former nurslings who are now 14 and 9 yrs As children, I can tell you that I haven’t stunted their growth physically, emotionally, or spiritually by nursing each of them for a number of years. Instead, it solidified our bond as mother and child and has made them secure in the knowledge that they can trust me and always “come home” to me. That I will meet their needs with respect, based on them as individuals rather than as a member of a culturally appropriate cohort.

  6. Seriously, this brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for your stance and not fearing to speak up about it. My LO is 20 months and I see no end in sight for him. I hope that if he still wants to nurse later on that I have the confidence that you do to care for my child in the way that works for us. 🙂

  7. This was a beautiful, tear-jerking post! If we all cared for our children with this much love and respect when they need it the most, we wouldn’t be debating about mommy wars!

    • I wasn’t able to bf past 2 months and have nothing against extended breastfeeding. My son is scheduled for surgery in 2 weeks- I intend to care for my child and give him that much love and respect when he needs it the most, even without breastfeeding. I don’t think it’s fair to assume that mothers who do not bf do not care for and love their child just much as a mother who does bf. I’m not sure that’s exactly what you meant by your comment, but I just wanted to give my opinion. I think it’s a wonderful, natural thing, but formula feeding mamas get a lot of grief for using formula and not BF’ing as much as bf’ing mamas do.

      • The intent of my post was to illustrate that a breastfeeding 4 year old and her mother are loving and relating in positive ways. It was in response to comments that sprung from the TIME Magazine cover that implicated those who breastfeed past infancy as perverts and social deviants. Breastfeeding provided the basis for my daughter’s comfort through a traumatic experience for her because it was familiar to her. Your baby seeks your comfort in other ways and will be soothed by your presence after his procedure. I wish you both the very best through what you will face.

      • I don’t think it was this mother’s intent WHATSOEVER to attack Formula feeding mommas. It was showing that BF’ing is a source of comfort and love for a 4 year old child, not something to be looked at as “disgusting.” Please don’t cause drama when drama is not what is intended here.

      • What? Why do formula feeding mums have to bring this CRAP everywhere where breastfeedng is mentioned? After I read this article forumla feeding or any negative thoughts towards FF never even crossed my mind!!! I have nothing against formula feeding and have stuck up for mums that have gotten crap for their choice how to feed their own child, but you’re just bringing this crap up for NO REASON. The words “formula feeding” or “Formula feeding mums” or even “Brest is best” or ANYTHING of the sort was not mentioned, why turn a lovely story into something it’s not? God, why is it that if breastfeedng is mentioned in ANY context formula feeding mothers INSTANTLY take offence. Jeez, relax, I’m 100000% sure that whoever wrote this article never even thought about formula feeding or how she’s better than anyone else! Just chill out!

        As for the actual article – beautiful, you rock mama! Keep calm and latch on, who cares what anyone thinks, just because the society has gone coo coo doesn’t mean you should give in 🙂

      • I’m also a formula feeding mum, and I don’t understand why you even brought this up???

        It was obvious that the author was talking about being allowed to comfort her child the way they both have always done it without ridicule. Just as any parent should be allowed, however they see fit.

        It wasn’t an argument saying it’s the only way comforting should be done, it was about being free to do it your own personal way.

        People need to stop taking things personally when there’s no attack and they need to stop judging each other so no one feels like they need to defend themselves.

        Everyone has a right to parent the way they are used to and most comfortable with.

        In saying that I also want to add the words “extended breastfeeding” seems kind of weird to me, it should be just “breastfeeding” and the age of the child shouldn’t matter.

      • Ladies, I believe Stacy’s comment was in response to Ali’s comment, not to the author’s article. Reread the two comments. I don’t think Ali meant to imply that ff mothers don’t love and respect their children like bf mothers, but I can see how Stacy might have read it that way.

        My children have all weaned between 3 and 5 years of age (with exception of the youngest, who is still nursing at 11 months). The oldest 2 are teenagers. They are all well-adjusted, independent, responsible and well-behaved kids. It makes me laugh at what ignorant people say about extended breastfeeding. Clearly they have no experience with it at all. Unfortunately, the ignorant are often the ones to shout their ill-informed opinions the loudest

  8. My girl was born with failing kidneys and it was important for me to breastfeed her as long as she would do it. We made it to 2 1/2 years and she was done. For comforting through medical tests and appts I would have gladly and proudly nursed her. I love that your nurse was supportive but how horrible you had the thought that the bathroom would be a better place because of what society says we should do.

    This is a lovely post about another perspective…

  9. Thank to for sharing this beautiful story. I’ve been so irked over the mostly negative responses to the Time article – trying to appreciate any publicity of breastfeeding as helping it to be more normalized in mainstream – but really just feeling like I have to ignore most of the conversation as the judgement and ignorant fodder is honestly painful!

  10. Thank you for sharing this! You made me cry and my desk. I am so glad your beautiful daughter is doing ok!

  11. Beautiful inspiration to all mothers nursing their little ones. This is truly a blessing and a miracle to this beautiful family! Thank you for sharing.:*)

  12. What a positive and uplifting story, at such an important time. My son had to get stitches in his head when he was about 14 months old, and I also had a good experience with an ER doctor (father of 7!) who was happy to do the stitches while my son nursed. We rearranged the room a bit so we could get into comfortable positioning with good light for the procedure. He even had new nurses come in and watch and said things like, “He is getting comfort from the pain while breastfeeding…” Thanks for writing this.

  13. Your daughter is beautiful and I am glad she was able to hold the breastmilk down and recover without having terrors of the hospital.

    She is wonderfully lucky to have a mother like you! I have not read the article yet from Time but I heard it was very anti-breastfeeding.

    At a time where I breastfeed my son, I take solace in knowing there are other mothers who may be far from me, but also believe that feeding the baby in that way is a wonderful thing and I can garner support from that and my husband. Thank you for sharing your story!

  14. So sweet. I hope recovery from surgery continues to go well. My daughter is almost 3 and loves to nurse. It’s a great tool although sometimes I feel pretty ready for her to wean. I’m glad your Gabriella had nursies during this difficult time, I am sure it really reassured her and helped you both. Take care and thank you for sharing

  15. How sad we live in a world where we have to fear what people think about the most natural thing on earth. None of mine fed this long but if they had, I wouldn’t be concerned. I will say the comments I got from my mother in law when my 3rd born was only 9mths old about how “she’ll still be on the tit at 10 if you go on much longer”… Was hurtful and appalling and disrespectful. Being referred to as “tit” disgusts me and she wasn’t the only one, she’d also made it that another of her grandkids aged 11 said it too. 11!
    Thank you for sharing your story, it is beautiful and so is Gabriella. Everything I read is normal, and beautiful but I just wish the public perception wasn’t as you’ve quoted here.

  16. It’s sad that you couldn’t just worry about your daughter’s recovery and not how you’d be perceived while breastfeeding. Happy you were able to make the right choice for your family. The pics of your babe are precious. Glad she is on the mend.

  17. Thank you for sharing. This is a simply beautiful story & I’m so glad she came through. I nurse my daughter who is nearly 2 & she is going to choose when she weans even though I get daily pushing & comments like the ones about the Times article. This is such an amazing contrast & yes a completely natural & normal way to support your child.

  18. You are an amazing and strong mother! Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. Your daughter and you are both so strong, and society has become so ignorant as to the benefits of breastfeeding. One of my friends posted a quote from the American Association of Pediatrics, that the recommended age to wean is two to SEVEN years old. ❤

  19. It was the bold words, “Are You Mom Enough?” that made me cringe because I have several friends who wanted to breastfeed but were unable to for various reasons. They had a hard time dealing with it and that picture with those words emblazoned would be just like another knife in the healing wound. Thank you for this lovely story and also as a nurse, I am very grateful you got a good one.

    • Thank you for this comment. I am one of those moms that has not been able to breastfeed her children. I have never had enough milk and they always lost weight while I was trying to breastfeed them. I wish so much I could have breastfed my children and it does hurt sometimes to hear things people say about moms who bottle feed. Some of us don’t choose to bottle feed. We do it because we have to if we want our babies to live.

      • I think another issue Julie, and don’t take this as me being against formula feeding — as I had to supplement with my middle child, is that many mistake our being extremely pro-breastfeeding for being anti-formula. Some take it as a personal attack on their way of feeding (whether it was a choice or not) when we are only trying to make sure everyone knows the benefits of breastfeeding. There are also a lot of “boobie traps” that people fall into early on in the nursing relationship such as being told they aren’t producing enough milk, or thinking that pump output is an indicator of the amount of breastmilk their child is getting. Doctors are uneducated about breastfeeding overall, unless they did the research themselves and many give false information. Because of this if someone says they need to supplement due to things like low supply, taking meds, etc we do try and discuss with them why they thought they needed to supplement. This isn’t a personal attack or anyone trying to say “Oh you COULD have breastfed but you didn’t, you’re a bad mom”…rather it’s trying to be sure they are prepared when/if they have another child so that they won’t fall into the boobie trap again. Hope that makes sense 🙂

  20. What a wonderful piece you have written! This has greatly encouraged me, as I am still nursing an older child. It just isn’t something we talk about, for the very comments that were said after the Time magazine picture. =( But this was great, and I’m so glad that your daughter looks back on her experience as a happy one. Great job!!

  21. Most of the replies are from young mothers, not so much from the earlier generations. My two daughters nursed until ages 2 1/2 and 3 respectively. They are now 31 and 28. The oldest was a National Merit Scholar. The younger went to college on full-ride scholarships that were over her cost of education, so she was actually given the extra money for books and living expenses. She will begin seminary this fall. We don’t talk much about their extended nursing, and they probably wouldn’t want to tell their friends about it either, but they are normal and well-adjusted women who aren’t afraid to branch out into the world. They have traveled farther afield and had many more life experiences than their high school classmates, many of whom married early and settled down near our small town. Perhaps it was having that strong tie in early life that gave them the courage to go out, get a good education and experience the world.

  22. The unnatural pose that was featured on Time Magazine cover was sexually suggestive. Is breastfeeding sexual? No! I love it and support it. I nursed all three of my children. Snuggling up with a child and offering comforts is a natural part of motherhood. I wonder, would the reaction to the Time magazine cover be different if it were a daughter latched on while standing on a chair?

  23. Thank you for sharing your sweet story! I nursed my last one until he was four and encourage all breastfeeding moms to nurse as long as it works!

  24. This made me cry. Thank you for being so strong. Mine is three and “nurkies,” with another sibling on the way, I can only hope she’ll continue for just as long.

  25. Beautiful story…thanks for sharing your experiences and fears. Yay for your daughter’s nurse that ‘got’ it!

  26. Thank you so much for writing this. It was so eloquently said. I too, nursed my children for a long time. We had a similar experience, although much less intense, when my youngest spent the day in emergency in terrible pain. The doctors felt she might have appendicitis and she had test after test, x-ray, ultrasound, MRI, and waiting, waiting, waiting, always with the terrible pain. Being able to nurse comforted her in a way that nothing else could have, and thus helped my stress as well. One wonderful technician dimmed the lights for us and brought us a blanket and something to drink, speaking kind words softly. He didn’t say a word about the nursing. There are reasonable, good people in the world and we were incredibly fortunate, in this hostile society, to come across one just when we needed it.

  27. When my first-born was hospitalized in intensive care at 51/2 years, my greatest regret was that he had weaned a year earlier, as I had to dig very deep for tools to comfort and heal that had once been so accessible at the breast. My greatest relief, though was that through our 4 1/2 year nursing relationship his body, heart and soul were strong, as was our trust in one another. Thank you, dear Diana for so beautifully articulating the very simple, normal yet profound experience that is mothering a nursing child.

  28. So beautiful! As a new mom, I “confessed” co-sleeping to a lactation nurse. She smiled and told me most breastfeeding moms co-sleep, but don’t talk about it openly now that it’s not considered acceptable. I’ve sometimes wondered if it’s the same with extended nursing? Maybe a lot more moms are nursing preschoolers than we realize. In any case, thank you for sharing! You’re a wonderful mom!

  29. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. I brought tears to me eyes because my son had surgery for sagital synostosis two months ago and it was the scariest experience of my life. Your little girl is beautiful. He is 6 months now and I don’t plan on weaning him anytime soon.

  30. I am so very happy for both you and your daughter that you were still nursing and she was able to get the nourishment she really needed. It is wonderful that the staff didn’t question you.

  31. I nursed my now 31 year old actress until she was almost 4 yrs, and my now 26 year old social worker until she was 5 yrs. What a source of joy and comfort for everyone. They’ve grown to be beautiful people, confidently giving to the world. Thanks for sharing your story. We just have to keep educating society until they understand how healthy it is, not only nutritionally, but emotionally too.

  32. How fortunate your baby girl is to have a mother with such a beautiful heart! This story brought me to tears and I just can’t imagine having to see my child go through such an ordeal. Breastfeeding in such a situation is not only for the comfort of the child, but as a mom nursing a toddler, I gain a whole lot of comfort and stress relief when nursing my son. It’s so relaxing, reassuring, and comforting. Thank you for posting!

  33. Thank you for sharing that. My son had milk until he self weaned at 3 shortly after the birth of his sister. Up to being signed off from the hospital at the age of four and a half we had lots of hospital appointments and tests (although nothing that comes remotely close to your experience – just tests and scans), but the thing that helped us through them the most was that he would nurse before, during and after them – this was how I comforted my child, and actually I found as you did – staff were supportive – even the gamma radiation scanning man with whom I stood shoulder to shoulder as he supported my sons legs and I breastfed him to keep him still (aged 2) for a 40 minute scan. We’ve also had times when either or both have been ill and breastmilk was the only thing they would keep down – to the extent where we have been told by Dr’s that if they hadn’t been breastfed they would have been in hospital. I think generally people just don’t understand about breastfeeding.

  34. Great article. Both my children BF until they were 3-4 and so did my grandchildren. People often say ‘How come those kids are so switched on?’ I say ‘Because they were never switched off”
    I just wish that I’d been BF until I was 4yrs!

  35. Thank goodness you still had milk and had the guts to help your little girl with both nutrition and fluids and the best possible food and comfort for a young human! Kudos!

  36. Pingback: Stop This Nonsense! | Radical Ramblings

  37. I’m so glad there are mothers like you who are prepared to stand up for what is so obviously best for their children despite society’s criticisms. Well done!

  38. Thank you for sharing your story. It brought tears to my eyes. I too know the benefits of nursing an older child. Such an important part of their childhood and a beautiful gift from mom.

  39. Thank you for this post! I had tears in my eyes as soon as I started it. What a beautiful testament to the power of the breastfeeding relationship. All the best to you and to your children, and thank you for standing up for us this way!

  40. Well done momma. My Gabriela nursed until she was a little over 5. She is independent, amazing little girl just like yours.
    Your little girl is lucky to have such a great momma!

  41. Your story moved me to tears, I am so happy you were able to comfort your daughter in one of the most loving and natural ways we have. You should be very proud of yourself!

  42. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story…I myself breastfrrd both of my daughters until they weaned at 2 1/2 yrs old and is was amazing and is an experience I treasure and miss so much!!! I nursed my babies in the 80’s and I am happy to see that there is a greater acceptance breastfeeding but we still have a long way to go!!!

  43. Diana, thank you so much for sharing this with the world! I have refrained from posting the Time story on my business FB page b/c I believe the photo was used to intentionally make extended breastfeeding look awkward and “extreme”; and the headline is a shamelessly obvious screamer to incite another useless round of “the mommy wars”. THIS, however, I *will* link to…because it’s beautiful, touching, and important. THANKS!!!!

  44. My daughter is turning 4 in June and we are tandem nursing with her little brother. I am grateful AND proud. She is respectful and patient and it’s the highlight of her day. I’m ok with that. And if she and I are ok, it’s really no one else’s business. 🙂

  45. Thank you for sharing your story publicly.

    As a CLC and a breastfeeding peer counselor, I know there are many other moms like you. Hopefully they will come forward with their successes too so American society catches up with what a majority of the world already knows. Breastfeeding is natural and helpful for many reasons.

    I recently had a mom ask me about weaning her 1 year old who had been born prematurely. I could tell she was hesitant and she was thinking about weaning because she thought that was what was *supposed* to be done at one year. She was really relieved when I told her first how long I nursed my babies and second when I explained that her toddler would still be getting antibodies from her milk so she would in no way be hurting him if she wanted to keep going. In fact, she could only be helping. He eats a wide variety of food, so he’s getting his main nutrients elsewhere, but his mama is still giving him valuable antibodies until *they* decide they are done.

    By nursing your daughter, you quite likely also helped stave off potential infections. That was some major surgery and she’s come through it like a trooper. You were there for her in every way possible.

    Nice job Mom! 🙂

  46. Beautiful story! My 3 yr old has surgery in a few months and I have the same mixed emotions and fears. So glad things went well. You are a strong mom!

    • I was there Thursday, i was SO SO SO scared of my DD’s surgery, but it honestly wasn’t as traumatic as i thought it would be, the hardest part, for us, was refusing food and breast, she was distractable with it though, I urge you to speak to the anesthetist and your child’s nurse. I expressed concerns over the canula (we don’t vaccinate) and they made it as reassuring as possible, and when they couldn’t get it in, made no issue and tried the gas, came and explained exactly what would happen as the gas came into effect, how much she would remember, looked after her beloved Rapunzel doll, even to the extent of sending a student on a 30 minute hunt so it would be with her as soon as she woke. Honestly, the fear and stress where worse then the actual thing. (((hugs))) Mama, i hope your child’s surgery is as peaceful as can be xxx

  47. Thank you, THANK you!!!! What a beautiful amazing story, this made me cry!!! Coming off the back of my dear sweet 2 year having her first General Anesthetic yesterday (she damaged 4 teeth falling down some steps and they needed removing) i can SO SO understand the fear that she would ‘change or not come back’ and mine was only out 1/2 an hour, i was PETRIFIED. The first thing i did as soon as i got in the recovery room was pick her up, and feed her! She feed for 40 minutes solid, one nurse asked me to ‘use a towel, other mothers may not want to see it’ my answer was ‘No thank you, we’re fine, they don’t have to look’. Feeding her allowed me, and her, to see nothing had changed, she was still my sweet baby, and the pain was ok, because Mama fixed it, She fell asleep during that feeding session and woke an hour and a half later, her usual happy happy self. She was supposed to ‘eat’ before she came home, but the wonderful nurse looking after her was content after she saw her feed, said that was all the ‘food’ she needed right now and we were home 3 hours after her surgery. 24 hours later and she is running around out house as if she owns the place once more 😀 As she should!

  48. I am asked all the time when I will stop breastfeeding my son and he is only 18 months old. I was asked even at 8 months when I would wean him. I am 12 weeks pregnant today and I plan on breastfeeding until HE wants to stop. If it bothers you, look away!

    This story of yours just confirms exactly why I plan on continuing to breastfeed. Even when my son is 2 years old and my newborn has arrived 🙂

  49. You should submit THIS story to Time magazine. So much more appropriate and topical than the posed picture. I had a similar experience right after my daughter turned 2, only hers was an emergency admit to the PICU for severe seizures. I was so glad they let me pump (what little I was getting out) and feed her first from the G-tube (she was intubated) and then from the breast when she finally was allowed to wake up from sedation and was extubated. It meant a lot to both of us for me to be able to comfort her in that way that was so normal to the both of us, in such an abnormal setting.

  50. What a lovely story, thank you for sharing it, it’s refreshing to see so many positive comments also, there’s still a few extended breast feeders out there then!

  51. Thanks. I will share on FB. Once when I had a three yr old hospitalized when the nurses found out that he was still nursing they made sure I got meals too. This spoke volumes to me about how much this hospital valued me nursing my child.

  52. I don’t think it’s normal to breastfeed a child after a certain age (usually, the mother is the one to know), but in certain circumstances (like the kid is throwing up at the site of any other food), then I could see an exception. Either way, it’s really the mother’s choice.

    On the other side, if the kid just demands breast milk whenever he/she wants it…that’s a bit different.

      • Weaning is part of normal development. There’s a very wide range for it, even in my own family, my first weaned at six (her choice) and my middle weaned at 2 1/2. I assume if someone never actually weans there is something abnormal about their development, and they probably need it. I do know of a few adults who need breastmilk, all have profound special needs, either illness or syndromic, and benefit from the milk or the comfort or both. Blessings to those willing to provide.

        So no, there’s not a magic sign that flashes over a child’s head that says “too old”… but 99.9999% of kids will not need it past their early childhood. The kids I know who were nursed long are by and large very independent well adjusted people.

  53. Thanks for sharing this beautiful experience with us. It warmed my heart to read it and to read the subsequent loving and supportive comments that followed. The fearful ignorance in response to the Time cover needs the light of love shined on it to help melt away the fear. Bless you and your wonderful daughter. Happy Mothers Day
    to all of you.

    • This is EXACTLY why I wrote this post … I was crying, feeling so hurt by the comments all over the media about an older child breastfeeding. I kept saying, ” … but it’s not like that … ” I decided to share what it IS like — never expecting the response it has generated but thankful and hopeful that people are sharing and minds are opening. Thank you for reading and for your kind words.

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  55. Your story is so moving, tears began welling up as I read. I hope you continue to do what works for you and your child! It’s a shame that our society sexualizes what is perfect and normal, yet brings to the mainstream, images of half-naked women, used to sell products! Anyhow, you go, girl!

  56. I’m so glad she hadn’t weaned yet I’m sure the breastmilk will be invaluable in her healing process as well! Way to go Mom AND such a brave, brave, little girl! She rocks!.

  57. That’s fantastic, breast feeding is a wonderful bonding experience with your children I agree. I have a child who’s almost 4 and I can’t imagine breast feeding her, but we use plenty of time cuddling and resting together.

  58. Absolutely beautiful. Those sweet and confident smiles in the pictures say a lot. It is a privileged child whose mother is sensitive enough to know that comfort of nursing is needed at traumatic times. I wish more children had been parented like this. Thank you for sharing such a touching and uplifting story.

  59. Made me tear up. I am so glad your daughter is okay. You are a strong, brave and courageous mommy. ❤ Only mommy knows what is best for her kids, and no one should be judging you or your kids. ❤ God Bless.

  60. Thank you for this post. I have been feeling so upset about the horrible things that people have been saying about extended bfing since the TIME uproar. My daughter is only 21 mths, so not as extended as could be but she still nurses often too. She also has birth defect issues and I think that bfing has done a lot to help her get as far as she is right now. Plus as you said, it is instance comfort for her and for mommy in the hospital situations! Beautiful post.

  61. If only TIME would have chosen a mother like you to portray such a wonderful gift. Instead they chose someone who says the most natural place to nurse for her was in the playboy mansion, just sick. I wish you and your family the best with nothing but healthy years ahead for you!

  62. What a lovely story to read on mothers day!!

    While my son’s only 17 months, I too love the fact he’s got me when he’s sick – for comfort, fluids and nourishment!!!!

  63. As a mom nursing my 19mon old (who was adopted), social worker, and hospital employee, I can only hope the staff here would be as supportive as those you experienced. Thank you for sharing your story!

  64. You need to tune out the negative and continue to raise your children in the way you believe is best for them. I wish TIME would run your story. Praying for your daughter as she continues to heal.

  65. thank you so much for sharing your story. you articulated, so beautifully, what I didn’t even realize I’d been keeping bottled up
    inside in regards to this whole stupid breastfeeding conversation being provoked by the media. your writing has allowed a huge emotional release for me as the tears are just pouring. thank you so much.

  66. I was nursing my 16 month old son when he underwent a surgery for the second time that sounds very similar to what your daughter went through. I had many of the same feelings when I climbed up in his crib in the ICU to nurse him, but never heard a negative word. His eyes were swollen shut for five very long days, and breastfeeding got us through. Even when he was puking most (if not all of it) up, I knew he was getting physical and emotional benefits.

  67. Thank you for helping me remember! At 14 and 8, I miss those moments with my kids. Just to sit and connect because nothing else mattered. I am praying for you and your family.

  68. Thank you for sharing your personal story. My son had a similar surgery at 19 months and I was so thankful I was able to comfort him with breastfeeding. I think what most people dont know (something I certainly didn’t before becoming a breastfeeding mother) is that breastfeeding is not just about food, but also about comfort. Every mother should be able to nurse and comfort her children without fear.

  69. As a clinical psychologist and a mom of four, I’m struck by how the love and comfort you provided your daughter through breastfeeding clearly helped her to cope. Thanks so much for sharing!

  70. Such a beautiful story & do glad you were able to nurse your daughter after her surgery. Thanks for sharing!

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  72. You are a fantastic mother who did what was necessary to make your child most comfortable and feel safe. My daughter stopped breastfeeding a week before her third birthday and yes I did get comments from various people about why I had not stopped breastfeeding a lot earlier, my response was “she will stop when she is ready to and not before then, anyhow were you just following what the book said or what society has dictated about when you should stop beastfeeding?” people did not have much to say after that. I just smiled and carried on. It was the most special time for both her and me. when she fed it is a closeness only a mother can understand. I miss it but I know our time together was special. Some mothers called me super Earth mother and others just shook their heads but I didn’t care.
    You do what you feel is right for your children and I always say that the people who have negative comments are just ignorant or “Non Parents” (who know everything as they have read it but never experineced it themselves) I salute you well done for giving your child comfort when it was needed in the best way nature intended…….breastfeeding 🙂

  73. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. I couldn’t agree more with what you said and am happy for you that you were able to take care of your daughter in such a natural and loving way. Gabriella seems like such a little trooper and I wish you all the best.

  74. This made me cry . Breastfeeding can be SO loving and comforting , in a way that is alien to those that are critical of it .

  75. Wonderful courageous mom! I think this world and society as forgotten that the love of a mother surpasses everything. The love of a mother comes from the heart of God. ^_^ Many blessing and support one another because we all are making everything to raise our children and to help them be wonderful people!!!!!PLEASE SUPPORT BREASTFEEDING BECAUSE IT SHOULD BE SOMETHING Wonderful and not a case of discord. To all those mother’s that are able to extend breastfeeding KEEP doing it! And to those loving mothers that for any reason couldn’t nurse please don’t be sad or invidious for not being able. REMEMBER THAT YOU TOO HAVE AND WILL KEEP NOURISHING AND RAISING YOUR CHILDREN IN ANY WAY TO MAKE THEM WONDERFUL PEOPLE IN LIFE!!! I believe that breastfeeding is a blessing to those that have are able to do it! I think we moms need more support from our husbands to defend our child’s right of nursing against those ignorant and “Cultural comments” from our own families and friends! I also find very offensive those comments that say that extended breastfeeding is only for physiological needs of the mother! Please!!! We as parents want to see our children happy and healthy. Nursing our children is a way to protect their health and emotional needs. Breast milk helps their immune system boost up making them need less medication and it also helps them cope with their independence and become courageous little kids! That’s why we a re parents right!!!! To make our children better persons for their own future! AND NURSING IS ONLY THE BEGGING OF RAISING OUR CHILDREN TO BE INDEPENDENT!

  76. People are ignorant. I nursed my son till just past the age of 3 years old whe it felt “natural” to stop. It has been one of my best decisions made. I continue to make decisions for my son based on what is best for him not on what the ‘neighbor’ thinks down he road. Kiddos to raising loving, healthy and weep-adjusted children who feel loved and nurtured.

  77. Beautiful and your little girl is so brave and just beautiful. Best wishes to you both and your family. Xxxx

  78. Thank you, thank you, thank you 🙂
    Im writing this in a hospital 36 hours post op for my 4 year old son who has just had major ear and nose surgery. He can only breath through his mouth at the moment and coming out of recovery he was very upset. The hospital have been great and my fear of not being able to comfort breastfeed my son was aleviated when he asked for ‘boobie’ soon after waking. His surgeon was also there and helped me organise myself around all my sons tubes so he could latch. We were taken back to his room on the ward with both of us on the trolley and him feeding (stopping frequently to breath of course). I have spent most of the night in bed with him and my left side is numb but my boy is calm and sleeping soundly.

    I find the Time piece offensive. I don’t know if Im mom enough by social standards but I am mom enough to be here for my son, to comfort him and breastfeed him during a traumatic and confusing time. Heck Im even mom enough to do that and feed my 2 year old while my partner is also mom enough to care for him alone while we are in the hospital. She has been the rock that does all that and still gets me food so I don’t have to leave our big boy. I will be here for as long as my sons need me in what ever way they need me.

  79. Great post! My daughter underwent craniofacial surgery too, granted it was at 6 months of age, but we would have been absolutely lost without breastfeeding during that time! It was the only thing that calmed my baby girl down coming out of anesthesia, and the rest of the recovery time!! So important that we can calm be there for our babies in this way! Can I ask where the surgery was done??

    • This surgery should have happened much earlier than it did — but that’s a whole other story entirely! 😛

      We were so blessed to have the surgery by the craniofacial team at Westchester Medical Center/Maria Fareri Childrens’ Hospital.

      • Sierra’s was done at Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA. Glad your little girl finally got what she needed and I wish your family all the best!

  80. I sit here reading with my 20 month old nursing in my lap and tears in my eyes. What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing

  81. Thank you for such a beautifully written, heartfelt piece. Your daughter is beautiful and I’m glad she’s recovering well.

  82. Thank you so much for posting this story about you and your beautiful daughter. As a nursing mother I am greatful to you for speeking out in a positive way about breastfeeding. We need more of that, especially now.

  83. It brought tears to my eyes, especially when you talked about the details of the operation and the worries you had about breastfeeding and what people would think. I’m so glad you were able to provide the love, comfort and support that she needed during such a stressful and painful time. My daughter is 4 now and although we did not have much luck breastfeeding (I am having a great and easy time with my 2nd daughter who is 4 months though!) I can still appreciate extended breastfeeding and support anyone who is able to do it XO Thank you for sharing your story!

  84. I will be graduating from nursing school in 4 weeks and I feel so proud of that nurse that saw you breastfeeding your child and smiled! I am an older nursing student (49) and I breastfed all my children who are now grown. I hope to be that nurse that will make life easier for a mom and child, not harder!! Good for you for following your instincts and your heart.

  85. This is beautiful. My heart goes out to you and your daughter. I’m so glad you were able to comfort her the way she needed during her surgery and recovery, and that the nurse realized what a gift you were giving her. As an extended-nursing/tandem-nursing mama, thank you for sharing!

  86. I’m so glad I took the time to read this. I haven’t read any of the information on the article in the Time magazine, mostly because I’m afraid it will affect how I look at breastfeeding, Sad, I know. My youngest recently turned 3, and although I was thinking about weaning her, I decided that I will not. Like your daughter, my Olivia is a fully functioning child, and has no problems at daycare or spending time with the family. She is not dependant upon her ‘boobie milk’, but realizes it is a special thing, just between her and I. Seeing all of the numerous posts about the Time magazine, and reading your beautiful article about your amazing girl, has helped me see that I need to stick with my inner thoughts, and nurse my Olivia until she is ready to stop.

  87. I’m one of the rare mothers who was unable to breast feed. I would have if I could have. My son is profoundly autistic and would physically fight against close contact, and so the bottle it had to be.

    I applaud mothers like you. My nephew almost had to have the same operation and I’m sure my sister would have nursed him in any way she felt appropriate too.

  88. A wonderful message to all of the people out there. Better a mother breast feed than abuse the child. I cannot believe children will be damaged by this act of love from the mother.

  89. I love this story. I couldn’t nurse my little ones for reasons. Before reading this I thought that it was unnatural That a child would nurse for so long. Now it’s opened my mind and heart to breast feeding. Thank you for sharing. I never understood why women did this but now I get it. I wish I could have breastfed my LO’s and that I had read up on the benefits more. Thanks so much. I think if I had another ( I have a 1 and 3 yr old) I would breastfed maybe not as long but who knows. It’s a beautiful thing.

  90. What a beautiful story, Diana. Thanks so much for sharing it, especially in the wake of the Time magazine story. So glad for Gabriella that she was able to receive comfort in the way she needed it! And thanks for addressing the “being old enough to ask for it,” sheesh. How is it a bad thing to be able to ask for what we need? I love that my kids were able to ask to nurse for a long time! And that I wasn’t afraid to meet their needs.

  91. Thank you for sharing your story. You are an amazing mom 🙂 I’m so glad you daughter was able to keep down her “nursies” and get comfort too. My daughter, who is now 13, nursed for 4 years.

  92. Very touchy, your daughter is one courageous girl who is so lucky to have you. I dont no about outside world but only mother can understand this bond. Hope she is doing good now.

  93. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story! ❤ what a brave woman you are, you are obviously an amazing mother who is raising a very brave independent little girl. Happy mothers day! I have read so many anti extended breast feeding comments and this just made me even more sure that I want to let my now 6 month old decide when she wants to be done breastfeeding.

  94. Thank you so much for writing this. People need to hear from us, the truth of what extended nursing is really all about. I nursed both my kids for 3.5 years each, and they both remember it fondly, and talk about when their own kids will some day be breast fed. This is how it should be.

  95. I do not think it is just breast feeding the people are mad about. It is the theory of attachment parenting. I myself read all the articles about breast-feeding. What you feed your child is your business. People were angry about that but I feel like the bigger issue was doating on a child everytime they cry or want something, not just milk. That from what I read is what the world was so angry about.

  96. I have breastfed all three of my children and will breast feed my forth. I personally don’t believe in nursing past a year and a half, but support those who do extended nursing for the right reasons. Very beautiful story!

  97. ❤ this story. I'm a breast fed cranio baby, and June 4 my youngest Joel will undergo endoscopic cranial vault reconstruction. Although he will only be just shy of 4mths, the ONLY comfort at this age I can provide is nursing. My mom tells me how hard it was to nurse me after surgery because I was so swollen, etc….I hope the hospital will aide me in doing so though.
    Thank you for sharing this, its very reassuring at a time like this for me, personally. I came across it by chance, and have posted it on ever forum and group I am apart of!

  98. My eyes are teary.. I haven’t read any of the comments above, but I just wanted to say how grateful I am for you and your little girl that your breastfeeding relationship has continued this long, and that it was able to help you through this difficult medical time xx

  99. Beautiful!
    Bravo to you!
    I feel your fear of having to hide in the bathroom to do something so natural as breast feed and happy to know you had so many supportive people behind you.
    I too extended bf, my dd till she was 5 and a half. To this day she remembers the last time she “baby nursie” as a sad but a great moment.
    I think of all the times it comforted her to just do what is natural.
    And thankful she has memories that are comforting to her as I am sure for your dd as well.

    Thank you for sharing.

  100. I’m glad this baby ended up being ok, But I don’t think this is a good compairson to the time magazine EBFs and comments. This baby was sick and couldn’t hold down solid food or even ice chips. The comments in time were for perfectly healthy kids who can hold down solid food and are still breastfeeding in preschool, kindergarden age and older. Being the cut the cord commenter, under These circumstances I would nurse a 4 yr old in a heartbeat. there’s no compairson in a postoperative child and healthy one. Totally different. So glad this bay girl is doing fine now.

    • I dont think there is a difference here. Nor do I think there was a difference that was supposed to be implied. I think Time Magazine really put a explosive slant on the article, especially running with that cover. If it had been how a child is normally breastfed would it be this sensational? I doubt it. My daughter is 2 and half, healthy normal, extremely bright (yes I have momma bias) and I still breastfeed and will continue to do so.

      Do I breast feed her standing up – of course not. And I doubt any of those mothers pictured do either. Those women were honestly taken advantage of in my opinion and this is just made out to be more than it really is. To each their own as a parent. Attachment or not, breast feeding longterm or not, cosleeping or not. It doesnt matter so long as you love and care for your children in the best way you know how.

  101. Beautiful! What an amazing bond. And I’m glad that she knew just what her body needed and that you as her mother were able to give it to her. Go figure why some feel that’s odd or wrong.

  102. Thank you for sharing! My best friend has a very similar story when her daughter was diagnosed with cancer and chemo therapy made her ill. I’m going to share this with her!

  103. My (now 30 year old son), had tubes put in his ears when he was 2 and still nursing. I asked for permission & was granted to be able to go into the recovery room. I wanted to nurse him when he woke up. I figured I would ask (strongly) & see what happened. I was told IF they had a private recovery room available, I would be allowed to go in that room. The room was available & the whole process went wonderfully. When my little guy woke up, he saw me, nursed & went back to sleep for awhile.

  104. Little did I know my oldest son was autistic as I nursed him, age 2, while I prepared for my cesarean to deliver his baby brother. The transition to brotherhood was so easy for him and therefore all of us because I continued to nurse him after the baby was born. I am utterly convinced that my opportunity to nurse my boys long-term (each past the age of three) has had a positive impact on their autism and to us as a family.

  105. Thank you for such a beautiful post. As a physician and nursing mom to an almost 3.5yr old I too was very upset and disheartened to read the Time story and the comments that followed. You brought tears to my eyes and lightness to my heart. I Wish you and your family all the best.

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  109. So touching. How rough on you all that your little girl had to go through this and how wonderful you were able to comfort her in the best possible way. My ten month old was recently admitted to hospital and while she refused to eat she wanted to nurse all the time. Most babies also refuse the bottle when they are very sick. Breastfeeding is beautiful. You are an inspiration.

  110. Thank you for this. My 2.5 y/o was in surgery recently and i really wished i could have nursed him when he woke up. I think the recovery would have been easier and more relaxing for him. My 5 month old is going into surgery next month and i know i will be there ready for him to latch on as soon as he wakes up. I can’t think of any better comfort for a child when they need it.

  111. Wonderful mother and beautiful lucky little girl. She is so pretty! Thanks for sharing your story it was heart warming .im stilll feeding my 19 month old daughter.hope to self wean

  112. Thank you for sharing your story, wishing you, your daughter and your family all the best. I nursed my youngest daughter until she was a bit over four and a half. Never imagined going on so long when she was born, I some how thought she would self-wean at age of three a the latest. She did not :). Have not had the heart to read the comments to the Time story. One of the Finnish tabloids did a similar story today with a picture of a mom breastfeeding an older child on its cover – have not read any comments on that either, as they tend to be along similar lines that you quoted from Time. Luckily we know that breastfeeding a 4-year-old (or 5-year-old for that matter) is in no way odd or “sick” or anything similar. Seeing the question “is it ok to breastfeed a 3-year-old” (heading for a blog) on screen yesterday evening my little one (now 8) answered “oh it is, it is. I was 4 when I still had your milk, mommy” 🙂

  113. Congratulations on a successful operation, and on being brave to breastfeed her in hospital. I have no doubt that it was that which has helped to make her experience just an episode in her life rather than a traumatic event.
    Best of luck!

  114. I couldn’t have said it better! To think that people in this day and age would connect breastfeeding to something of a sexual nature. Children as well as parents develop an emotional bond of love and comfort to each other and anyone who thinks otherwise must have not been breastfed and/or does not have kids. Screw them, its your child and you know whats best for her! I’m hoping all is well.

  115. What an amazing story. You are right to be proud of your very brave little girl and feel secure that you are doing the right thing for her. I wish her and all your family the best of times ahead.
    I breastfed my daughter until she was two and a half and she is literally the happiest and healthiest child I’ve ever met. She is hugely affectionate and seems almost fearless too. I sometimes wish I hadn’t stopped when I did, but I’m just glad that I abandoned my original plan to stop when she was 6 months (!) and ‘just went with it’.

  116. Thank you for sharing and so glad your little one is doing great! I breastfeed my youngest until she was 3 1/2. She is now 4 1/2 and still wants to hold them and even pretend breastfeeding. I let her because, as many of you have said, its a source of comfort. My oldest, who is 7, will put her hand or head on my breast because, as she says, “its comfy mami.” We have an amazing bond and I wouldn’t change it.

  117. Thanks for posting. I love to read stories like this because I am still really grossed out by breast feeding toddlers and I’d like not to be. I’m hoping if I read enough uplifting stories like this, that icky feeling will be gone by the time I’m ready to have children. Because while I agree that it is probably very beneficial I’m still working on that mental hurdle. Too bad we have sexualized the breast to the extent where women don’t feel comfortable using them for what they’re intended for.

  118. Thank you so much for posting this. As a doula, aspiring midwife, concerned friend, and future mama I love reading stories that are passionate and on point like yours. It is unfortunate that anyone judge a mother for her choice to feed her child. Every mom should be given a proper education to her options and live without judgement for her decisions. Our society is built so much on self-centered morals where everything is a competition, it is incredibly important for us to step back and remember that not everyone has the same idea of “healthy” or “normal”. If something doesn’t fit your belief system in whatever realm it may be, read about it. Get educated. Try to understand where that person may be coming from.
    Afterall, if you can’t understand it how can you dislike, or even honestly like something?

    Kudos to you for helping your beautiful daughter with such a loving natural action. Listening to your mama heart is always the safe bet. ❤

  119. Gorgeous, gorgeous piece. THANK YOU for opening up to us like this- for sharing the insecure thoughts that run through many an extended-nurser’s brain. The truth in this writing has brought me to tears and though I do still nurse my 2 and a half year old, reading this has added an ounce of courage to that act and a whole lot of inspiration. Bless both of your hearts.

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  121. The way this is written makes it all sounds great, however I’m sure if you were not still breastfeeding, the doctors/ nurses/ you would have figured out another way for her to feed.

    • She was being fed by an IV, but breastfeeding her was such a complete, lovely way to feed her need for comfort. This post was intended to show that those who breastfeed longer aren’t selfish pedophiles, and the children aren’t dependent brats. We’re your friends and neighbors.

  122. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This post was written with overflowing love and honesty. As an extended breastfeeder myself (3.5 year-old son), this was a much needed and supportive reminder that what we are doing is ‘normal.’ You’re daughter is beautiful and she is lucky to have such a passionate and loving mama. ~Lisa

  123. Sorry your daughter had to go through this. I do not think that you can compare your situation to the Time magazine cover. I personally have not read the article, but I am currently still nursing my 16m old and we are going strong. What was wrong about the cover is that it is a VERY unnatural position to nurse in! That went about it the entirely wrong way! Hope your daughter is getting better!

  124. I had the exact same experience when my 2,5 year old son had a malignant brain tumor.
    He was calm whatever they did to him and was in the hospital for about a year with his mon and dad and baby sister in a sling.
    We never had to hold him, and he lay calm a sleep in the MRI and the whole experience have not made him freight full or scared of hospitals at all. He looks forward to going to control now aged 9 🙂
    I breastfed him till 2,5 where he himself said no, and his sister till 3,5
    Love to you and your family

    • Thank you for your comment, Heidi. 🙂

      I’m so happy to hear your little guy is doing better now — it’s so hard going through something like that with our babies … I’m thankful I had breastfeeding to get us through the hard days, and the not-so-hard days, too.

  125. Good for you mama! I teach breastfeeding classes and tell them that biologically we are meant to still breastfeed from age 2 till 4 (depending on teh child) and remind them that in many cultures it is entirely normal for 4yr olds to BF. I may have weaned my daughter at 22 months (it was becoming a behavior issue for her) but SHE was ready for it. So long as a child is not dependant on it but rather it is simply another measure of comfort in your arsenal there is NOTHING wrong with it. and for heavens sakes, if you are a cancer patient as an adult you can get “human milk” from the milk banks as a perscription! It vastly speeds up healing, has caused cancer to regress and even fully dissapear in some cases. Greatly improves quality of life etc. Nursing your girl at the hospital or the middle of the night is just fine! Might I say that middle of the day at a park is a little odd, yeah ok. But more for social reasons and not wanting her to be considered “odd” by others. But there is NOTHING wrong with you for still BFing her, and don’t let a soul tell you there is. Proud of you! (and pardon the typos, it’s late at night)

  126. When my son was two months old my mother in law stated openly “well I guess I don’t mind you doing ‘that’ as long as you aren’t doing it when he is a year old, those people are totally weird”. I didn’t share with her the details of my plan to breastfeed as long as we can. After six weeks of exclusively pumping around the clock, my now four month old had finally latched on and I cried with happiness. When he needed to be hospitalized at seven weeks for severe pneumonia, the pediatrician said “keep nursing him or he gets an IV”, and I was proud that I could oblige. My mother in law stated “it’s that milk you are giving him that probably made him sick.” I convinced myself that hurtful comments that breastmilk is gross, breastfeeding requires seclusion from others etc stem largely from ignorance of those who have never been informed. I wish I didn’t have to defend my choice to breastfeed to family or strangers. So although my mother in law still refers to my expressed breastmilk as ‘formula’ (breast is a dirty word?) and asks how soon she can start giving my four month old solids (not for a while!), I find solace, strength and inspiration in your story of nursing your daughter through illness and health regardless of her age.

  127. My nursling is going on six and will have an operation on her gum line (due to a cleft lip and palate) in late July. I don’t know if she will want to nurse but thanks for your inspiration to nurse despite what the hospital staff might think.
    I can still remember the surgeons face last time we were there (when she was six months) and he surprised me double pumping – he’d never seen that before:)

    I’m glad that I didn’t read any of the negative comments in or about the Time article. If they could see your daughter’s smile and understand what’s behind it then I’m sure they would eat their hats.

    Thanks for posting, and hope your daughter is feeling better. She’s beautiful

  128. Oh my goodness– such goodness here! What a scary experience for you. I am so glad Gabriella is ok and you were able to safely nurse her post-op. *tears* for such an overwhelmingly beautiful story.

  129. Your story is very moving. I can’t express how I feel after I read it with words. God Bless you and your family. I think that Nursing is very personal. There is no right, no wrong, whether you do it or not, and for how long, it should be your choice only!

  130. Your story made me tear up. I nursed my 3.5 year old while she was in the hospital for pneumonia. Thank you for sharing about your precious baby!

  131. I love your story. I nursed my daughter until she turned 2 and now my son is two and a half and still nursing. I get stares sometimes but i dont ( try) let it make me feel bad. Honestly i wish i could punch the heck out of those people. Lol. They will NEVER know how much love we feel and how close we feel to our children at that moment. Keep it up, the only ones that matter are our children. They eventually will stop. They wont be nursing when they go to college. Lol
    Blessings for your little angel !! And you too 🙂

  132. Good job Mom! My 3 year old loves to have Mommies Milk, and I could care less about what other people think! We start every morning with milk and it is great for the owies that are too big for a Kiss to make it better! My girl has never been sicker than a small cold and she got better so fast it was amazing to see! She is smart caring and loving, she also has no allergies and I am sure that Mommies Milk has large part to do with it!

  133. Your story made me teary. My son was in and out of hospital with severe asthma and at age four it had turned to pnumonia for the third time. When it is bad he woudl stop eating and drinking but would still breastfeed. It is so sad that we feel unable to talk about it openly because of what people think. I also got in his hospital bed and nursed him when he was just four. I will do whatever it takes to keep my child healthy. He is now almost fourteen and a self confident, independant kid. Other than my sister and one friend, I don’t discuss it with anyone. Thanks for sharing your story.

  134. Very touching, I choked up reading to my husband. Thank you for sharing and encouraging that bond that breastfeeding has between a mother and child.

  135. I’ve read a lot about breast feeding, extended nursing, etc.. when I read your story, I was holding my 18 month old, she was sleeping still latched. She has a head cold and that’s the only way she felt comfortable. This story hit me hard. The way you talk about your kids is incredible. “I think nursies would help me”…I read that line a few times. It makes me want to know you. I shared this with my husband, my biggest nursing supporter. You are amazing!

    • You are very kind. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. As nice as it feels to be called “amazing,” I hope if my daughters breastfeed their babies until they outgrow the need, they’ll be “just like everyone else” 20+ years from now. Love to you and your little one, I hope she feels better soon!

  136. What a beautiful, beautiful story! Thank you for sharing. My son nursed until almost 2.5 and weaned (Grandma pushed it since she was watching him) when my daughter was born. My daughter is now 2 years 3 months and still nursing. I get asked by family, friends, strangers and even the hubby now and then when we are going to stop. I say when she wants to stop. I figure she’ll wean before kindergarten!? Either way I don’t care what other people say. It is a source of comfort and nourishment to my little one. I certainly don’t get my rocks off! In fact I only associate my breasts with nourishment now! BF is natural and should be promoted more than it is. I applaud you for sharing your story. TY! And I wish your little girl health and happiness! :o)

  137. God Bless you and your family, Breastfeeding, love, nurturing and prayer I am sure is what got your daughter through her ordeal and out of it. My beautiful daughter who is now a healthy, thriving, pain in the rear teenager (17 yrs old) was breastfed until she was five years old. As far as people and their off color remarks; nursing mothers have to ignore them and continue to do what is natural and healthy.

  138. I am the youngest of 5 daughters and the only one to breastfeed any of her children past age one. My two little children were the first to go to daycare where they cannot defend themselves against viral infections. My little buy needed at T&A at age 19 months which was quite painful. The ONLY thing I could hydrate him with was my breastmilk. We both needed to breastfeed due to his incisional pain and pain for him knowing that I put him through that surgery. I went on to nurse him until age 2 when we both decided it was time to stop. Age 2 may have been age 22 in my family but I (underline I) was not ready to break out nursing relationship and either was he. It’s just something you know in your heart that it is right – just between the two of you. Thank you for sharing your inspirational and touching story.

  139. This is probably one of the most touching and heartwarming stories I’ve heard in a long time. I’ve actually read it twice and was moved to tears both times.

  140. Thank you for sharing this! My daughter stopped breastfeeding four months before her third birthday and she would have gone longer if I had let her. I was pregnant at the time and exhausted. I stopped when I was ready, I didn’t listen to family, as they let their disgust be known. You sound like a great mom and you are awesome! Your daughter is beautiful. Thank you again, for telling your story.

  141. Made me cry! What a beautiful testimony of a mother’s love! While not neatly as drastic, I was able to provide that comfort to my son after coming out of anesthesia. His body relaxed instantly. No medicine can provide that relief!! For child or mother 🙂

  142. I wanted to say thank you for writing this. My daughter turned 3 in September 2012, and is large for her age, so she looks more like a 5 year old to passersby. She will be having brain surgery to remove brain tumors from Tuberous Sclerosis Complex to hopefully cure her medically refractory epilepsy. She still nurses, and my guess is that she will be still in the spring/summer of 2013 when she has her surgery. Next month she will be hospitalized for pre-op testing (multiday EEG, MRI, PET scan…) and surgery will be a few months later. I know that continuing to nurse my baby will make the whole ordeal far less traumatic.

  143. That was so wonderfully written. Your children will be proud to know that their mother stood tall and strong for what she believed in. I’m breast feeding my 16 month old, with no end in sight yet. We’re both still happy to, and I know that’s what matters. However, I do feel pressure to ween… Even from my own doctor who wondered why I hadn’t weened when both my children were 6 months. It’s quite a mental/emotional struggle. Nothing in the world feels more right than nursing my sweet girl. It still gives her so much. Much more than just “milk”.

  144. Pingback: Extended breast feeding | Coffee and Kids

  145. Thank you for sharing your beautiful, moving and loving story, I´m so glad your most precious daughter is doing great, many hugs and blessings!!! Cathy Urroz, LLL, IBCLC

  146. Pingback: Why I didn’t celebrate World Breastfeeding Week this year | normal, like breathing

  147. beautiful heart warming testimony of a breast feeding mother. this brought me to tears thank you for sharing, my son just decided to self weaned at 17 months but still asks for the comfort of nursing even though he doesn’t want to latch. just the knowing for him that if he asks it will be offered comforts him. I wish we could have gone longer, your truly an inspiration.

  148. I don’t see how you can compare your story to that of the TIME magazine cover. Your child had an extraordinary event, so concessions by you needed to be made. I commend you for thinking of it, and am happy that your daughter benefited from it.

    But to write this to try and make every parents decision to continue to breastfeed a normal thing is taking too many liberties, and I disagree with it.

    My last thought is; what age is too old, in your opinion, to breastfeed? And if your daughter is 15yrs old, and in the same hospital situation, would you breastfeed her then?

    • Do you drink milk Marie? If so I encourage you to take a moment to consider how truly odd that is, and perhaps even do a little research into the dairy industry if you feel so inclined. My children and I don’t drink the milk of any other animals and they are both breastfeeding at 6 and 18 months. Yes, my oldest is 6 years old. She is very smart (top 3 in her class), happy, healthy, energetic and ‘normal’ among her peers. She has no extenuating circumstances to cause me not to wean her, I have just chosen to follow her natural instincts. As for your final question, no mammals drink milk into adulthood (except for humans drinking the milk of other species who have produced the milk for their own babies) so the likelihood of a 15 year old wanting to breastfeed because they’re in hospital is extremely low and actually non existent in my opinion unless the child has been abused. Here is an interesting article on natural weaning age for humans =) peace =)

  149. God bless you. I have nothing but love and pride for breast feeding mother’s. I also have tons of envy because I never could. Nothing can ever replace the love of a mother. Keep loving those babies.

  150. What a beautiful story that made me cry! I love your blog (and I can’t say that about many that I read). My older daughter is 3 1/2 and we had the conversation last night about how she wants to have boobies ‘until she’s at least 5’!! It can be so weird for other people to image an older child breastfeeding past a certain age, but for us, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Most people are surprised when I say that I’m still feeding her 14 month old little sister… Wonder what they would think if they knew big sis got the boob too 🙂

  151. 🙂 I’m happy that you all are so close and can comfort each other very well. I hope all is well and she heals up nicely 🙂 Have a good night 🙂

  152. Very beautiful. I am a momma to a medically complex little girl, who has been in and out of the hospital most of her short life (turns 4 next month). She is fed via gtube, so breastfeeding is out. But, I LOVE this find other mommas who know their feelings BEST, and who are willing to put the comfort of their child before the possible judgements of society. Bless you!

  153. I love this so much. Such a beautiful story. You have a wonderful beautiful brave daughter and you are an amazing mother

  154. Thank you so much for sharing this. You are inspiration to a lot of mothers. My biggest mistake I have done in my parenthood that I weaned my daughter when she was 2 years old. She didn’t want to wean, I weaned her because everybody else around me said that’s the right thing to do. Thankfully now I know better with my 2nd child. I will not wean him until, I will follow his natural instincts.

  155. Just wanted to let you know, that I breasfed my now 4,5 year old boy past his 4. birthday. There was no medical condition or similar, it just seems ok for both of us. Since he only breastfed “for goodnight” and sometimes during night, only few peoble knew, but I’m not ashamed or something, it seemed right for us. He weaned after I got pregnant, only with a little encouragement on my side (my breast are very sore now), but now and than when he has a infection and high feaver, he comes back to the breast, even I’m not sure there is any milk there it seems to soothe hin and let him get through a cough attack.

  156. Wow fantastic artical I think that you did the right thing which is nursing your daughter back to health and if nursies were the best thing for her well good on you.
    I loved this article.

  157. This was being passed around in one of my mom’s groups and I’m so glad it was shared. It just brought me to tears and a flood of emotions as I lay here nursing my daughter. I can’t imagine how scary that surgery must’ve been for you, your daughter, and your family. I know if my child went through something like that, I would give ANYTHING to comfort them and help them feel better! Good for you for being the thing that your child needed most to get them through a difficult time.

    I was so pleased to read about the positive response you got from the nurse. If only all healthcare providers were so knowledgeable and understanding! Besides the comfort it gave her, I’m sure your daughter benefitted from the antibodies and immunities that your milk provided. Way to go, mama!! Thanks for sharing your story.

  158. Wonderful, and just lovely. I am breastfeeding my 4.5 yo and nonetheless garnered courage and pride from this story. Thank you so much for sharing!

  159. I really loved reading this. Your daughter is beautiful and I’m so happy she made it through okay. I’m glad no one hassled you for breastfeeding your daughter, and that the nurses were even able to laugh at your joke. Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing and I feel children should be the ones to let you know when they want to stop breastfeeding. If it brings comfort, like it does for your daughter, then so be it. People will always be judgmental and will always try to bring you down. Just keep your head up. Again, I loved reading this. Thank you.

  160. Thank you for that story! It’s so wonderful to hear how your bond with your daughter helped her through the most difficult time in her life. Bravo for putting your child first!

  161. Thank you. Awe-inspiring. Learning there are a lot of moms out there doing extended BF makes me feel I’m doing a great job despite hearing nasty comments and irrational judgments about it. Deep down, I know it’s for the benefit of my child.

  162. My first born daughter is now 16 years and 7 months old, she is a brilliant girl in every sense of the word. I breastfed her for four years. My success at breastfeeding her gave me the confidence to breastfeed the three children who came after her. I have breastfed four children, no formula, and November 1, 2013 marks eleven combined years of breastfeeding. There is nothing I love more than hearing another mom’s story, and following that I love to share mine.

    I have a bonus, I breastfed my son before and after his open-heart surgery to repair a VSD and ASD when he was four months, eleven days old. No formula for him either.

    Boobs rock!

  163. I wish I had real mother as you are. And every chld on the world. That is way too go. Your chld is blessed by God. Congratulations on courage love for your child and thank you for sharing your story with us.

  164. Beautiful !!! Such a touching story of the unbreakable bond between a mother and child. If society could see this, understand this… We would live in a very different world. This is how it’s been for thousands of years. Biblical times state the weaning age between 3-4 . It’s just many times it’s not ” convenient” for the mother. I respect all weaning ages, but admire and applaud you !!!! God bless you and your precious family !!!

  165. This is beautiful. My oldest is 4, and she nursed for 25 months and weaned herself. And, my youngest has craniosynostosis. I have often wondered how she would handle nursing if we were to need surgery. This is beautiful.

  166. Wow, so amazing. I was crying as I read this. I’m so glad your daughter is doing well. I’m a first time mother and my son is about to turn one. I’m still breastfeeding and plan to do so until he is ready to stop despite what others have been saying. You ma’am are an inspiration.

  167. way to go! mama and kiddo! and thank you for sharing what is totally normal AND totally beautiful! 🙂 -still nursing at 3.5+ and proud!

  168. I am not a mother.
    I am a 25 year old woman who strongly opposes womennprancimg around on runways with their bits hanging out.
    however, whennI hear stories of women being belittled or attacked for loving their children it bothers me.
    I was not breast fed as a child, however, not one person in my immediate family have an issue with walking out somewhere and seeing a mother nursing her child.
    This is such a beautiful and brave post, and I am so very thankful that you were able to give your little angel the comfort she so desperately needed in a troubling time for her.
    way to go mama!

  169. I read this while nursing my sick 16mo son. Can’t stop the tears 🙂 So so beautiful. I don’t understand how anyone can judge such a beautiful act. You know, some people just lack that little bit of soul. Maybe they have never had that kind of love given to them and so don’t understand the special bond. Most people
    probably don’t even really think about it; just judge for whatever shallow reason. But stories like yours spread and gain publicity and just maybe a mother out there might gain some strength from it and be brave enough to stand up for herself and her baby and will continue breastfeeding her toddler despite social pressures. thanks for sharing & all the best to your little girl

  170. Good article about your experience and view on breast feeding. I don’t agree with BF for so long but that’s a personal perception and has nothing to do with what’s moral or absolute. I have a 4 year old son that was done with BF at 10 months and it would have been awkward for me to have gone longer than that. I love that you shared this – it’s good to see people hold to their personal convictions even when it’s not the “popular” thing to do. Glad you’re daughter is doing well after the surgery!

  171. What a great post! My son had a congenital dermoid cyst removed, at 11 months. His was over his eyebrow, superficial, and was not fixed to bone. I remember being old that the closer those cysts are to midline, the more likely thy are to grow into the bone. His surgery was hard on us (mostly my husband & I); I understand how scary it must have been for your daughter and you. I’m glad you didn’t let your fear others’ ignorance deter you from doing what was right for your daughter. My son is a year and a half. He still nurses, and I intend to stop when he is ready, not when society deems it time.

  172. Thank you so much for sharing! As an educator, there is a difference between children who have received parenting that is responsiv to their needs and children who have not. Babies who are secure and know their mommies will meet their needs become secure children. Young mothers need to hear stories like this. Well-done!!!!

  173. Natural term nursing happens far more frequently than most are aware of. I know my child will remember nursing with so much fondness. It is one of the most amazing experiences of my life and hers so far. I only hope that one day the majority will accept this biologically normal and appropriate practice and we’ll shake our heads at the few that choose to make it an issue.

  174. Pingback: When to Wean – US Womens Health

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