As my daughter looks more and more like a toddler and less like a baby (she’s 15-months-old), I’ve been hearing this question more often: “So… when are you going to wean her?” There is probably an element of genuine curiosity here but, mostly, I think, this question is popping up because for some people it is starting to get a little weird that I am still nursing my daughter.
So yes, the time has come for me to talk about breastfeeding.
I have no patience for the media-fuelled “mommy wars” so no, this is not a post to judge or sway anyone’s opinions about breastfeeding. I only want to share my experience because my own opinions about this have changed. A lot.
When I was pregnant last year, there was no question for me that I wanted to breastfeed. Whenever I had a conversation about how long that would last, I used to say, “a year.” I had met, many years ago, a mom who breastfed her three-year-old. I remember my look of shock when I saw this little guy asking mommy for her boob–and getting it! I talked about it with lots of other people. I made fun of this mom. I thought it was ridiculous. I thought (and this opinion I held until last year), “I would never breastfeed a talking toddler, let alone one that can remember the boob when he grows up!”.
When Time magazine issued that famous front page article titled “Are you mom enough?” with the woman breastfeeding a kid standing on a stool, I laughed about it with other pregnant women. We thought it was gross. We thought that would never be us.
Fast forward a few months and I’m nursing my 15-month-old daughter a few times a day. When she turned one I weaned her to two feedings a day, first thing in the morning and before going to bed. Those two feedings would be the last to go, sometime soon. That’s what I thought. Then she started waking at night a bit more and I resorted to nursing her occasionally. Then she had a cold and I nursed her occasionally to help her get better. Then she was teething badly and then she got quite sick, and now I’m pretty much nursing her once or twice during the night (day feedings are still just morning and evening, with very rare exceptions).
You would think I’m complaining, but it’s actually the opposite. Over the last few weeks, S has gone through lots of changes. We moved cities; she has been teething; she had roseola; and she started daycare. And I’ve been so grateful that I can still offer her the comfort of the boob through all these challenges. Sure, it’s not always fun at night. And I do want to eventually wean her of the overnight feedings again. But I’ve been happy, not annoyed, at the fact that I still have the best tool to help S when she really needs it. It has helped that my amazing husband has been encouraging me all along.
What I’m trying to say is this: I have done what has felt right, both for my daughter and for me, and it has worked for us. I haven’t been fretting about what others would do. I haven’t been thinking, “is this gross? should she be off the boob by now”? I honestly have not.
What has changed is how I see other moms’ breastfeeding relationships with their own kids. I don’t judge them anymore. I celebrate that they are doing what is best for them. I feel bad for what I thought about them before, and I am happy that my own experience has made me approach this with a lot more kindness and humility.
I still love nursing S and I don’t plan on weaning her anymore. It will happen when she is ready, when I am ready.