Reprinted with permission from the author.
My daughter, Jenna, was a continuous nurser. She nursed day and night for 2 years. We co-sleep, so night nursings were a bit easier. I also thought she was nursing for comfort, but soon realized that she was taking milk and swallowing, so I figured she was hungry. She really nursed around every 2 hours for almost 24 months. But I just kept reminding myself how lucky I was to have a healthy, attached baby…………
Toddlers do wean… Many wise women here have been telling me that for at least 6 months. I have been stressing about it for awhile now. I never imagined I’d be nursing a 2 year old, heck, I never imagined nursing an 18 month old….. To be quite honest, I was uncomfortable with the idea of breastfeeding a toddler. I’m not sure why, but I guess I have not known a single person who has nursed this long. Anyway, all of a sudden this breastmilk addicted child of mine started sleeping through the night….and last night she woke and never ask to nurse, just wanted a cuddle from me. Then this morning she asked for a cup of “bunny milk” (strawberry stuff in milk) and breakfast. I kept waiting for her to ask to nurse, but she didn’t. Nap time rolls around and instead of telling her it was nursy nap time, I just had her lay with me in bed. She asked to nurse and I said “Nah, let’s just cuddle” and she slid her hand just slightly down the front of my shirt and cuddled against me and minutes later….she was asleep. I think we are well on our way to weaning. I can’t imagine that she’ll end this abruptly, but I am positive that it will happen soon. Gosh, I have been waiting for this. I wanted to let her nurse for as long as I could, and not ruin our wonderful experience by forcing her to stop. It’s working.
So here I am in a silent house wondering why I am not celebrating. Heck, I have been waiting for this, right?!?!?!
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I think I should pass along a few things to you new moms who are feeling tied down to your babies, or feeling like you just can’t take nursing another day……Someday it will be over. Trust me. I speak from experience.
Jenna is 24 months old and never took a bottle or paci. She spent most of the first year nursing every 2 hours. Then between 1 and 18 months, we were still nursing at least 5-10 times a day. Was it hard and sometimes frustrating? YEP! I have a DS who just turned 6 and it was hard for me to figure out ways to spend the time with him that he needed and deserved…BUT I did it. I learned many creative things to do while holding a nursing baby. And when she was sleeping, I made sure he and I always did something he wanted to do. I found a way to keep my house nice and clean, and even put dinner on the table. My husband works 24 hour shifts and is not here alot…..BUT I manage.
The thing that kept me going was knowing deep in my heart that this is worth it. That letting her nurse, and letting her be attached to my hip was going to give her that extra *jump* on life. really, I think, what if she were the 1 in whatever percent that was “going to end up with” cancer? What if the 2 years worth of breast milk changed that??? Or what if I was on the path to ending up with breast cancer? Maybe the 2 years of nursing her changed the odds for me too. That is alot of *what-if’s* BUT I sure don’t want to know if it would have been differant had I not nursed.
Alot of woman worry about having their bodies back….well trust me that once you have a child, your body will never be yours again. Both of my children share my heart, my arms…and my mind. I am their blanket, their jungle gym and their stroller. That is what motherhood is. Breastfeeding or not, it sure changes you.
Am I different than any other mother here? No….I am no super-mom…just one who realizes how fast this wonderful time in our lives pass by.
Toddlers do wean when they are ready….Trust Me!
I think I posted that on a Sunday, and it was the last time she nursed.
Well….I think I can say it is official now… Jenna has not nursed in 8 days. I think we are weaned. Wow….it just happend..snap…like that. She doesn’t ask to nurse, but she has taken to poking my breasts and telling me that they are funny…LOL. And last night she hugged me and said “I like you mommy” and I laughed and said it back….then she pointed at my breasts and said…”I like naw-neeies too.” Then she just ran off to play. It amazes me that after worrying about weaning for so long that it would happen that fast. I wish I could put into words all of the emotions that I have about our breastfeeding relationship, and it coming to an end… But I can’t.
I do have to say that weaning was very bittersweet. It is a bit harder to parent when I can’t just offer a boob to fix things…. I also have to say that I disagree with setting a date to wean by. To me nothing would be harder than taking away the breast so suddenly.
Overnight weaning is not good for a baby. Sometimes we tend to forget that babies are BABIES and can not process info like we can. They can’t understand why we would suddenly take away their most prized thing…. Imagine having someone take away your car…. you still have to go to the store, work, visiting friends, and errand running….. If you woke up one day and had to figure out what to do it would be difficult. BUT weigh that against gradually getting used to not having a car. You could find ALTERNATE forms of transportation… a bus, taxi, friend…… BUT you would have time to prepare.
Isn’t it funny how for those first “tough” months after the baby is born we think that the round the clock nursings will never end??? They do…trust me, faster than you think…and I sure have been there, and done that.
Looking back I have to say that nursing Jenna for 2 years is one of the things I am most proud of. I have given her a benefit that many babies are not getting.
— Melissa, mom to Jenna… nursed 24 months and 11 days