Being that World Breastfeeding Week (Aug 1-7) is nearly finished and I’ve yet to post about the topic I thought it would be fitting to post an update on our breastfeeding journey.I forgot to wean him at 1. I forgot again at 2. With 3 months until his third birthday it is quite possible we will forget to wean at his third birthday too.
I never set out to breastfeed this long or wanted to be a poster child for “extended nursing.” I have often posted about the topic because, even though it is personal in nature it is important to see mothers and toddlers who nurse past 2 because it is normal. If you are reading this with a newborn in your arms and can’t fathom ever nursing that long I say to you that yes, it is possible. 3 years will sneak up on you faster than you think and that newborn will gradually grow into a toddler in front of your eyes. They will still be your baby and you still might be nursing them. Don’t knock it until you try it.
Our typical day begins when my son wakes me up. Some days I am in his bed because he woke up in the middle of the night. On a rare occasion he slept all night in his bed and comes to my room. We will cuddle either on the couch or stay in bed and he will nurse for just 2-3 minutes. Then it is time for breakfast and time to wake up Fletcher, who is normally still in bed.
I’ve gone past the “don’t ask, don’t refuse” stage and will not nurse him every time he asks. I allow him to nurse only two or three times per day unless he is ill. Several months ago he was very sick and didn’t eat for a week. Still breastfeeding was a lifesaver and I’m not sure what we would have done without it. At that time he was allowed to nurse whenever he wanted.
The next time he nurses is before his nap. He looks forward to having his “milk-milk” and it has made nap time drama-free. Again, he only nurses for a minute or two on each side and then I leave the room for him to fall asleep on his own. He is not being nursed to sleep and hasn’t been for many months.
Our last nursing session of the day is before bed. It might last a little longer, four to six minutes, and we get to cuddle while I stroke his hair and tell him about the dreams he can have that night. That is my favorite part of the day.
It may seem that he is content to have just three times to nurse a day but that isn’t the case. He tries to nurse more than that, especially if I’m sitting on the couch. He has brazenly walked up and pulled my shirt up to gain access and he asks for “milk-milk” way more than he gets it. I’m not a mean mommy, but I’m not nursing a newborn. At some point I do want to wean him and it starts with baby steps. No nursing at night, not nursing on demand…. we have limits and boundaries. A few months ago we didn’t and I was on the verge of cutting him off cold turkey because I was so touched out.
As for what it feels like to nurse an almost three year old- it is still wonderful for the most part. I don’t see him as almost 3. He is my youngest and still my baby. If I had a newborn to compare him to he might seem more grown up but I don’t. He didn’t become this size overnight so it has continued to remain normal and comfortable to keep breastfeeding him. The positions are different- he can’t just fit inside of my arms while I cradle him. Now he lays next to me in bed and his feet are touching my legs.
There is an end in sight. He can go a full day without nursing and he has when we are busy or on vacation. He will opt out of nursing on occasion when he wants to sleep in his brother’s room. I see opportunities to remove another nursing session soon as we slowly work down to nothing. He may even wean while I am out for a week long trip for work in October. I’m confident we won’t be nursing by his fourth birthday but other than that guess I don’t have a weaning date in mind.
For more blog posts on our breastfeeding journey: