Before baby arrived, I didn’t really think about the length of time I would want to breastfeed, I just knew that I wanted to do it. One year on the breast sounded like a long enough time after 9 months of pregnancy where I was vigilant with everything I put on and in my body. Once Ladybug arrived, and was nursing like a champ, I thought I’d stick out a year of it with ease. Fast forward 3 months when I experienced my first mastitis, maybe this breastfeeding thing isn’t always done with ease. And when baby girl didn’t take a bottle, I started to realize how daunting the breastfeeding would be. There weren’t breaks – no bottle feedings from daddy and no formula from a bottle. Ladybug protested strongly. It was then that I was eager to get to the point where she’d either take a sippy cup or take cow’s milk. Whichever way, my boobs wanted a break!
After her 1st birthday, although she was somewhat interested in the cow milk and was successfully using a sippy cup, she still strongly preferred my breast. Her pediatrician was pleased and urged me to try and continue to nurse her until her 2nd birthday, especially seeing as she was a finicky eater. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, especially as she was getting bigger and less controllable during nursing sessions. Her hands grabbing at everything in sight, feet in my face and pausing in between sucks to talk to me. Cute as all of it was, often it was tiring. But, we continued nonetheless.
The entire year following I waited for a sign that she’d be slowing down. I assumed as more teeth grew in, she would be more interested in foods. She did pick up a few food favorites, and did slow down to fewer nursing sessions, yet wasn’t planning to stop nursing at anytime. Sure, I could have pushed to ween her, but as we neared her 2nd birthday, it just seemed right to keep it going until then. With Ladybug still not eating well, I also figured that giving her just a bit of nutrition with breast milk was helping her diet. Our pediatrician praised the efforts upon our 2 year check up and hinted that I continue to breastfeed if possible.
Now here we are, just over 2 years, and at times, I loathe it. I long to have a guilt-free cocktail. I long to not have my shirt pulled down by my toddler when she decides to hunt for “mommy milk”. Not to mention I’d like my daughter to be less dependent on it. However, all of that aside, I am pleased with the nutrition she still gets from my milk considering she’s such a picky eater. And of course the closeness is something I’ll miss when the nursing ends.
Personally, it is a bit awkward when I reveal the continued nursing, even to close family and friends. Over the past couple of years I heard a lot of “Good for you, sticking it out!” Now I Hester, “Wow, you still breastfeed? Why?” It just seems less appreciated and less acceptable at her age and in our society. Sad but true. I won’t say I’m ashamed to tell people, but I do avoid it. If it is brought up in conversation I am honest about our situation. Bottom line, I’m doing something awesome for my daughter and she is worth any of the discomfort, struggle and inconvenience that comes with toddler nursing. It’s a beautiful moment in her life that I’ll cherish forever.
…but I still dream of having my boobies back someday!