Extended Nursing: That’s a Wrap!

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The past week has been bittersweet. It’s the end of an era between my son and me. An era I never imagined surviving a year much less three and a half. 

Apollo never took to bottles or pacifiers, so I served as both. My husband couldn’t help with feedings since, quite frankly, he wasn’t the one with the milk-filled boobs; and when Apollo figured out that boobs not only provide milk but pacify too, it was mama, mama, mama, and only mama from then on out.

Throughout the first year I:

-was sleep deprived.
-had sore, cracked nipples.
-leaked a lot.
-was supper emotional (see: sleep deprived).
-dreamt about the one year mark, when I’d begin the weaning process.

But when he turned one, I wasn’t quite ready to initiate weaning. I knew some resistance and crying would be involved, and since I’d become a pro at pacifying his qualms (with boobs) I wasn’t ready to replace this challenge with a new one. We’d gotten into a groove, a routine, a bond. Besides, we were about to embark on a cross-country move (Hawaii to Maryland) and I wanted to preserve as much normalcy for him as possible.

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Okay, so on our way to Maryland from Hawaii we made a month-long stop in Texas. He bit my nip one day while nursing and it hurt so bad I shouted. My shout scared the bejeebus out of him and he refused to nurse for three entire days. Crabbiness ensued and nothing else could pacify him. I was afraid it was the abrupt and unexpected (i.e. I wasn’t emotionally prepared) end of our breastfeeding bond. I captured a moment of him resisting the boob. I was an emotional mess. That is probably mascara on the blanket. Ha!

Once we were settled into our new state/home, he was pushing two. What the hey, I thought, I’ll just wait until after his second birthday to initiate weaning. But by then I had read about the benefits of extended nursing for both baby and mama. Say what? I’m reducing my risk of developing breast cancer? I’m still boosting his brain development and resistance to illness? I’m not particularly crunchy, but that sounded like a sweet deal. 

I’m not gonna lie—I was dead tired. Constant night wakings and co-sleeping in uncomfortable positions took a toll on me. I swear I’ve aged double-time. But his nursings throughout the day gave me a break too. I enjoyed taking a moment to slow down, be present and catch up on my own rhythm.

Before I knew it we were celebrating Apollo’s third birthday. The white flag was completely thrown in and I decided I’d let him decide when we’d be done. I had long stopped caring about the well-meaning, though misinformed, comments by relatives about how spoiled he was and how he was too big to be nursing. I knew I was doing what was best for both of us both physically and emotionally.

Last Sunday we were in bed and on a whim I said “Mama’s chichis (boobs) are tired, and you’re getting to be such a big boy. How about we just snuggle?” He turned around, went to sleep and that was that.

It’s been a challenging, deliriously sleep-deprived, beautiful, learning curve, but we did it together. Our bond is physical and emotional. It will always be one of the best things I’ve ever done.

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(Side note: I really wish I would have taken more photos of me nursing him.)

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3 thoughts on “Extended Nursing: That’s a Wrap!

  1. Priscilla says:

    The journey feels like it’ll never end. My son is 2 and just what you said, the night nursing and co-sleeping is uncomfortable. Right now it’s the only way I can get him to sleep. I’m about to start tandem nursing.

    Like

    • I understand your feelings, Priscilla! But it will end eventually ;-). I found that letting go of a timeline or expectation helped alleviate the pressure I’d put on myself. also, a little after his 3rd bday I dropped his daytime nap. He FINALLY sleeps through the night now. Good luck! I know it’s not easy, but you’re doing an amazing job <3.

      Like

  2. Liz Teaches says:

    Parenting comes with a lot of responsibilities. I miss those sleepless nights, story reading, and many other activities that I have spent with my kid. These days never come back.

    Like

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