Nearly 18 months. That’s how long Emma and I have been at this breastfeeding thing. More than twice as long as I breastfed Joshua. Longer than I imagined and also somehow not.
And I’m starting to have a hard time with it.
Since she turned one, maybe even before then, I’ve practiced “Don’t offer, don’t refuse.” That seemed like a solid plan. She eats regular meals and is healthy and thriving. Breastmilk is for nutrition but also for comfort. If she asks, I’ll nurse her. No problem. We’ve got this.
And then something happened, and I’m not entirely sure what that something was, but now every time I sit down for longer than 30 seconds, she asks to nurse.
No matter where we are or what we’re doing, if I sit, she climbs into my lap, signs “please,” and points in the general direction of my boobs. Sometimes she gets a little more forceful in her request and tries to unclip my tank top or bra and pull my shirt down. If I try to ignore her request (because she just nursed), she takes her little baby hands and grabs my face and turns it so that it looks at hers and repeats her plea.
She doesn’t drink cow’s milk or almond milk or soy milk or coconut milk or unicorn milk or any other kind of milk except the kind in my boobs. That’s the only kind she likes and the only kind she wants. I actually don’t mind that she only wants my milk, I think. I’m not entirely sure.
The thing about her asking all the time, and I’m not kidding when I say ALL the time, is that she doesn’t REALLY want to nurse. She wants to take a little sip and just hang out there, her face to my flesh. She just wants my boob out where she can see it, afraid that if it goes away, her milkies go with it.
Or she wants to practice acrobatics and climb all over me and twist around like a little gymnast while latched on.
I’m not sure about y’all, but I don’t actually enjoy sitting around with a boob hanging out just in case the toddler decides she wants a full meal instead of a snack. And I certainly don’t appreciate being a jungle gym for a miniature contortionist.
So this breastfeeding relationship we have right now is getting frustrating for me. Super frustrating. There are moments when I dream of weaning her just so I’m not asked for milkies 320440 times a day. I’m tired of being just my boobs, you know?
With “don’t quit on your worst day” running through my head, I’m trying to set up boundaries by denying her request when I know she doesn’t really need to nurse, but I’m not exactly sure how to do any of this because it’s uncharted territory. I just know I’m not ready to throw in the towel.
Because the truth is there’s something sort of sweet about the fact that I bring her so much comfort. That I’m able to do for her what absolutely no one else can do for her.
Breastfeeding forces me to slow down and take all of her in.
There are times when she’s nursing and she’s snuggled into me and her little arm pats my back and her eyelids flutter and the weight of her head rests in the crook of my arm and I’m flabbergasted by how amazing this all is. How absolutely heartbreakingly beautiful this girl and being her mother is.
Those moments are the ones that have kept me going. Knowing she’s very likely my last, I’m not ready for this to end. I just wish I could find a little balance in here somewhere.
Monday 7th of October 2013
So. I'm two weeks behind in my reader. And just wanted to say this is EXACTLY how I felt nursing BG at 18 months. I didn't mind still nursing her. I did mind not being able to sit down when she was awake.
I finally put my foot down and started telling her no sometimes. It was a few days of tantrums (the will is strong with that one) and then a very pleasant nursing relationship.
Of course then I got pregnant. So there's that.
Tuesday 8th of October 2013
I'm doing my best to set limits and tell her no when I know all she wants is just to be near my boob. It's sort of working. Sort of.
Thursday 3rd of October 2013
I nursed mine until he was near 2.5 years old. I hated it and I kept waiting for him to wean on his own and it just wasn't happening AT ALL. Finally I decided I needed to teach him how to get comfort from me in other ways - snuggling and hugging and stuff - and wean him. At that point he was old enough to understand "broken" so I told him my boobs had owies and were broken and there was no more milk. He forgot a few times and I had to remind him, but he didn't really question it.
So, if you want to wean, that might be a route that works for you. Up to you! One thing that I remember hitting home for me is that breastfeeding is a relationship - you both have to want to be in it. If it's not working for you, change it so that it does.
Hannah @Supermommy!...Or Not
Friday 27th of September 2013
Around that age, a lot of kids are learning how to drink from sippy cups and like to drag them around with them all day. Same concept here except Emma's "sippy cup" is attached to you :)
Ann @ Such a Mama
Wednesday 25th of September 2013
My daughter is 16 months and she is going through these cycles of wanting to nurse sooooooooo much more and then not as much. The killer for me is when she decides she needs to nurse 3 or 4 times a night - like last night. But she was at the sitter's really late so I know that had something to do with it. Does she drink anything beside breast milk? Like juice or water? Maybe a cool new sippy cup when you are feeling touched out?
I gotta say the gymnastics business really cracks me up! I don't know why, but it doesn't bother me. But it also usually happens late at night when she is not interested in nursing to go to sleep. Then she gets sent to her crib! She is just so damn cute with her butt in the air trying to latch on and steal the remote from Daddy!
Thursday 26th of September 2013
Yeah, the overnight ramping up of frequency KILLS. It comes in cycles, though, and usually is over in about a week, week and a half. Then we're back to our usual. I think there's a growth spurt or teething or something happening when she does that.
She does drink water. LOVES ice water in her sippy. And she does like juice. I just don't like to give her TOO much juice. She gets maybe a sippy a week.
The gymnastics are funny when she doesn't try to pull my boob off and walk around the room with it in her mouth. When she's trying to nurse AND read a book AND stand on her head? There are definite chuckles.
Tuesday 24th of September 2013
Depending on what you are willing to do and try, I really feel that at this age, there is nothing wrong with restrictions and guidelines. I know it's different because you are at home and I was not, but around 13-14 months, I stopped so much of the "on demand" and moved to set nursing times. The main reason for that was I could not physically or mentally spend all night nursing her after being at school, and that IS what she wanted. It was not, however, what she NEEDED. That's a hard line to draw, but she was eating, she took some alternate milk (to this day, maybe 5 oz on a thirsty day, though, so not a LOT). She just wanted me. Well, at that age, we needed to start redefining what "wanting me" meant. So, I nursed her when she woke up, right when I got home from school, and to go to bed. It was hard, at first, for her to readjust, but after a good week to two weeks, she fell into the rhythm. Then, after 5 months or so, we cut after school. She was wanting a snack and to play, so it just kind of fell away. Then, I after another month, I needed more time in the morning, and we cut that one. We continued nursing to sleep until 20 months when she decided she was done.
What I'm saying is, YOU matter. Your feelings matter in this. You have done this for a long time and it's OK to feel at odds with it. So maybe putting some guidelines on when she can nurse will allow you to continue until she's ready to stop, but also allow your sanity the break of being a constant milk machine.
Wednesday 25th of September 2013
Since writing this, I've actually found the courage (?) to tell her no. Courage isn't the right word, but it's close.
I think I've been incredibly afraid of the end of nursing because she's probably my last, so even though we've blown every expectation I had out of the water, I know I'll be sad when it ends. But she HAS to learn boundaries and respecting others and I feel like this is as good a way as any to teach her.
I'm hoping that my being away this weekend will help break the all-day-buffet habit.