Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Meghan Gebke, Portsmouth, Virginia, USA
My mom has been a La Leche League Leader for almost 30 years. She breastfed all four of her children, practiced baby-led weaning, baby wearing, and a peaceful way of parenting. Breastfeeding has always been normal for me. I grew up seeing breastfeeding mothers, babies, and toddlers around me all the time, so I knew that I would breastfeed my babies when the time came.
I am a military spouse, and Clint and I lived in Okinawa, Japan, for four years, before we had our daughter. I have a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, and I worked as a nutrition counselor at the WIC office on the base. I was discouraged by how few breastfeeding moms there were, so I took an online class (along with a few of my colleagues), through the University of California in San Diego, and became a Certified Lactation Counselor/Educator.
I had very few problems with breastfeeding when my daughter, Alexa (Lexie), was born. She is now 18 months old and still happily nursing whenever she wants (which is often at night and less frequently during the day). We cosleep, cloth diaper, and I still sometimes wear her in my sling.
What is a little different about our family is that my husband and I are both runners and triathletes.
As soon as I was healed from my drug-free delivery, I started walking and running again, and I competed in my first race when my baby was only seven weeks old. It was a five-mile race, and I ran with her in the stroller. Lexie was fussing for the first mile of the race, so I took her out, carried her in the sling, and nursed her for about a mile of the race, before putting her back in the stroller and running the rest of the race. Lexie and I got third place in my age group that day, even with walking for a mile!
When Lexie was eight months old, I ran a half-marathon (13.1 miles) in 1:29:59, a personal record for me, while Grandma babysat. When Lexie was 12 months old, my husband and I competed in a half-Ironman triathlon (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride, and 13.1-mile run). We did another half-Ironman when she was 14 months, and when she was 15.5 months old, my husband and I both competed in Ironman Florida (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile run). We both finished very well in our age groups (I was third out of 50, he was seventh out of 233), and we achieved personal best times.
The races themselves weren’t the tough part; the most challenging part was finding the time to train for these races while taking care of a baby, and while working our training in and around breastfeeding and attachment parenting. At the peak of our training, we were each putting in about 20 hours of training per week, not counting shower time, driving time, and stretching time. Lexie would never take a bottle, and I had to do six-hour bike rides every weekend, so Clint had to learn some great ways to soothe and entertain our daughter!
I had to focus very hard (still do) on hydration, especially during the summer when I was running and biking in the heat, for an average of two to six hours a day. When I was in the final miles of Ironman Florida, I thought to myself, “I bet there isn’t another woman doing this race who will need to nurse her baby when she is done!”
Meghan wrote this story in 2012. She now has two children. Lexie, now 5, weaned at two years and eight months, and Easton, who is two years and five months, is still nursing. Meghan and her husband are currently taking a break from triathlons and are focusing more on running, but the children keep their parents active in all three sports, because they love to run, bike, and swim with them!