Breastfeeding is a bittersweet, emotional journey for both Mama and child. I’m currently nursing my second (and last) child, my daughter who is about two years old. And I’m not weaning her: she will continue to nurse until she lets me know she’s ready to wean. A lot of people may not agree nor understand, but I have damn good reasons why I’m letting my child lead the way. I hope that this article will help moms make the right decision for them and their child when it comes to weaning off breastfeeding.
As a spoiler: No I wouldn’t let my daughter breastfeed until she was six years old and heading into kindergarten. I think if she was wanting the boob on the way to school I’d be going a bit insane – plus my boobs would probably be sagging to my knees by then, so it wouldn’t be pretty anyway. (Do they make bras for Boob Roll-Ups?)
If you haven’t followed me from the beginning, then allow me to give a bit of a back story so you know where I’m coming from. My son is about four and a half; he was exclusively breastfed but also had to go to daycare, so you know that means the working-mom-and-pumping-nightmare saga. And I had to wean him (and stop bedsharing) when his little sister was on the way. It was extremely difficult and emotional for both Mama and Son, and I know he was not ready to wean; while I don’t necessarily regret what I did, I don’t have a reason to do that to my daughter since I stay at home now.
So my daughter – I’ll call her Tiny – and I are still nursing throughout the day. Usually it’s just for nap time and bedtime, and maybe once in the mid-morning and/or once in the mid-afternoon. Of course if she’s teething particularly badly, or she doesn’t feel well, she’s attached to me like an adorable leech. It can drive a mom crazy to breastfeed that often when you’ve been doing it for years, but at the same time I’m grateful that I’m able to comfort her in this way.
At the same time, I have a little thought in the back of my mind; sometimes it’s a comfort and sometimes it’s more of a warning, like the Ghost of Motherhood’s Future. It tells me “Once your little girl is done breastfeeding, you’ll never nurse a baby again.” And it’s true: we’re done having kids. Whether or not I’m completely at peace with that decision, it is what it is. (And that’s a post for another day.) So once Tiny is done nursing, my boobs will officially retire.
No more easy bedtimes. No more quick comfort for a child who falls down or whose molars hurt or who is getting a fever. No more quiet moments in a world of chaos.
And I remember the nights with a crying son who didn’t understand why he couldn’t just suckle to sleep. I remember sitting outside the bedroom door while he wrestled bedtime with Daddy, crying and holding my pregnant belly and wondering if I was doing the right thing. I remember feeling so heartbroken that my little child couldn’t possibly comprehend things like “nursing aversion” and “severe sciatic pain”. All he knew was that his life was turned damn near upside down. He was not ready to wean.
I don’t want that for my daughter.
So even though she drives me crazy sometimes, like: I haven’t slept through the night in at least five years; my boob always freezes in the winter nights because it stays out in the open; I have nursing bras older than her (and I miss my pre-baby bras like crazy); I know when she’s overtired or getting sick that she’ll only want Mama; I haven’t had a night out since before I was a mother. I’m the “always open, always available” parent, and the only one who can answer to her…. Even though…
Yet, I’ll miss all this like crazy when it’s over. I know I’ll sob softly to myself the first time that she falls asleep without me, her beautiful face relaxing as she drifts off. I’ll feel so alone and so unwanted. I’ll go through hormone withdrawal like no one can believe. I’ll scramble to comfort her in new ways when she gets sick, when she hurts herself, when she’s sleepy. I know I will tear up when I hear a newborn cry in the store, or when I see a mother and their child looking into each other’s eyes lovingly as she nurses them. I will long for these days.
So yes, I’m letting my daughter decide when she’s ready to wean. I’ll follow her and trust that she will let me know when she’s done. And when she is, I will respect it. I will find new ways to comfort her, for us to bond and have Mama-Daughter time.
And yes, I’m ready to not-so-politely inform any nosy stranger as to why I’m still nursing my toddler. I have the medical benefits both for her and I; I know my legal rights; I am confident and fierce and ready to shut down any comment. (Plus do you really want to tell my child “No”? If so, God help you, because I sure as hell won’t.)
One day my daughter will be ready to wean. One day she will decide she no longer needs it, and she’s done. She’ll be ready, and so will I. Because I do this for her. Because I love her. Because she is my last child, my precious little girl.
And I will throw those goddamn nursing bras into the incinerator.
Thanks as always for commenting your thoughts, and sharing this out. I hope this helps you make the right decision when it comes to weaning your child. I’m always here if you want to contact me, too!
You can also see all of my other Breastfeeding and Pumping content here.