With just a couple months away from Karson and Lucy’s second birthday, I once again find myself examining where we are in our weaning process of breastfeeding. When we passed my goal of one year, I said I’d stop at two. I think I’m ready for this part of our journey to end but Karson and Lucy might think otherwise.
We mostly just nurse at home these days. I feel more self conscious about breastfeeding in public than I did when they were little. It’s not quite like holding a little baby up to my chest. It’s hard not to expose myself as they crawl all over me. They never tolerated nursing covers, especially not now.
Most often I know I’m not starving them if I refuse to let them nurse in public so most often I try to reason with them and simply say, “not now.” I’ll offer a snack instead. Over time they’ve asked to nurse in public less and less and it has become something we do primarily at home. I would guess that a lot of extended breastfeeding mothers operate this way and so we rarely see toddlers nursing even though it is happening more than we might think. It’s certainly not our cultural norm in the United States and something I feel I have to justify.
But the more I read about it, the more I’m glad for our decision to continue. There are still so many health benefits for Karson and Lucy and myself. The breast milk they receive is still full of proteins, healthy fats, nutrients and immunity boosters.
The drawbacks seem so insignificant in comparison. Would they sleep in a little later knowing I won’t swoop them up and bring them back to bed with me for a little drink? I always tell myself I’m going to stop offering in the middle of the night so they don’t wake and expect it but when it’s 4:45am and I can lay down with them and get us all a little more sleep, I do whatever it takes.
Lately Lucy’s favorite word has been “Mama.” All day long, with her arms outstretched to me it’s, “Mama! Mama! Mama!” She wants me to hold her and that’s probably where she’d prefer to be all day. Do I coddle her? Does this come from letting her nurse whenever she wants? Or is this just typical toddler behavior? Karson isn’t this way and I’ve treated them the same.
Aside from the health benefits, nursing is still about the only time I can get them to sit still and serves as the rare minutes of peace and quiet we have. It’s a break time for all of us. They get a noticeable perk afterwards. When they’re done they’ll bounce up and run off as if they just charged their batteries.
But on the other hand, there has to be an end at some point. I’m starting to feel like I could start refusing more often, telling them it’s all gone. Maybe it wouldn’t be that hard.
In the end it’s our family’s decision to make and a lot can happen in two months or even one month. At this point I guess there’s no real reason to do anything strategically. Karson and Lucy have done a good job up till now showing me what they need. I might just listen to them a little longer.