As happy as it makes me to have been able to breastfeed my son for 10 months and hopefully a year, I am not prepared to nurse a toddler or older child. Not that I would judge any mother who wants to, or doesn’t want to. I think breastfeeding is great, for Ike and me (for now), but maybe not everyone (for any amount of time). I wanted to breastfeed him to help he stay healthy and to keep him as close to me as I could, I wasn’t trying to start any movements or uprisings. Honestly, some breastfeeding mothers and alum are a bit too pushy on the subject in my opinion. Nothing is for everyone after all. I wouldn’t judge any mother for choosing not to breastfeed, it’s hard! And there is a lot of things that could get in the way.
Excuse me as I step off of my ‘nonjudgmental soap box’ and back to my actual problem.
I am still nursing Ike. I am also still pumping diligently for his main nutritional needs. It is definitely still exhausting. We are 10 months in, and to be honest, I never thought we’d make it this far. But with Ike’s first birthday rapidly approaching, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, a light that is not clouded by formula just yet. After all of this work, effort, exhaustion, tears, and anxiety, I would very much like to continue without formula until Ike can obtain all of his nutrition from food and cow’s milk.
There are still lots of times when I worry about my supply and his needs. Is he getting enough? Is he still hungry? Why won’t he eat more solid food? Should I let him have another bottle from the freezer? How much is left in the freezer? Is it enough to last us until November?
So many questions, so much uncertainty. I didn’ t know this would be so hard. But it is hard. And it’s a commitment like none I have ever made.
Then I look at Ike snoozing in my arms at night before bed and I think, this is the best feeling ever. And it’s worth all of the worry and troubles and anxiety.
Ike’s an “older baby” now in breastfeeding speak. Which means he is capable of asking for milk when he needs it, and capable of waiting (for a short time) to be fed. And can be distracted until it is convenient for nursing.
When he’s hungry or feeling anxious and wants to nurse, Ike taps my chest as if knocking on a door. “Hello? Mommy’s boobies? I thirsty”
When I do nurse him, he occupies his busy mind and hands by playing in my hair and fiddling with the clasp on my nursing bra or playing peek a boo with my shirt. He still gets distracted occasionally with loud noises or televisions or people talking, but he’s more or less past the latch on/latch off phase thank goodness!
Nevertheless, I think I want to wean him, pretty soon after his first birthday. That general desire is as far as I’ve gotten. Beyond that, there is no real exit strategy. Do I just take the bottles away and give him cow’s milk in a sippy cup on November 23rd? Do I start putting breast milk in sippy cups earlier? Even though I know he spits the stuff out? Can I bear to see even a drop of my precious liquid gold dribble down his onesie? Do I still want to nurse him at night before bed? Will he magically start sleeping through the night at one year eliminating the need for the 3am feeding? Doubtful. If I do manage to transition him to cow’s milk in a sippy cup during the day will my boobs know that they are only needing to produce milk in the evenings?
There are countless resources out there for new mothers just learning to breastfeed, but I have come across very few on how to transition to toddlers and wean and partially wean. Will this all just sort of work itself out?
I think maybe it’s time to put some serious thought and planning into this transition period. Maybe next month. Or maybe at the end of the year. Maybe I’m not quite as ready to wean as I thought. We are good right now.
*This post has been linked to One Project at A Time.