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.