I haven’t joined the carnival of breastfeeding for sometime now but I couldn’t let this month pass without joining for the topic was quite near to my heart and current situation – extended breastfeeding. I had previously written about the challenges of weaning and to date, we still have not completely and successfully weaned.
I purchased Maggie’s Weaning in hopes of getting N to understand what weaning is. I think she does understand what I’m asking for her and every time we get to part when Maggie has her weaning party, she gets teary-eyed and says that she doesn’t like the book. So it’s safe to say that at 39 months, N is still breastfeeding and doesn’t look like she’s going to wean anytime soon.
Let me start with the challenges with nursing a toddler. My biggest challenge actually results from my environment – dealing the comments from people around me, particularly from colleagues at work. It’s no big secret that I’m a breastfeeding/pumping mom since along with my colleague Claire, we spearheaded the establishment of a breastfeeding awareness festival and lactation rooms in our organization. And most of my colleagues are amazed that N is still breastfeeding until today. What I dislike most is the comment “She’s still nursing until now?!” with raised eyebrows and an incredulous voice.
I know I shouldn’t feel defensive but I really feel irritated by the need to justify that I’m not harming my daughter by allowing extended nursing. But sometimes the comments do get to me and I wonder if nursing has already become a habit for my daughter and whether we both will have difficulty breaking this habit later on.
As a toddler, N is the little acrobat when nursing – standing, sitting, in the bathtub, while reading a book (her favorite nursing position). Plus she never learned not to grope! She also has this weird habit of wiping my breasts before latching on.
Nursing is also no longer a cure-all for her troubles. There was one instance when she got upset because her nanny threw away a tissue paper she saved and she sobbed, howled, ran out of breath and no amount of nursing could sooth or distract her. But it is still a cure for some things. Just recently, she got some itchy issues with her privates and to prevent her from scratching, I just let her nurse – still works perfectly!
Why do I still allow her to nurse as a toddler? I’m holding off actively weaning her because of our vacation which started last week. We are thousands of miles away from home and she will be sleeping in new places and meeting new faces. I want her to have a comfort zone and nursing is currently her favorite comfort zone. Also, as a working mom, I really treasure our nursing moments – the bonding moments. She is really quite busy and active and nursing is our quiet time. Plus, when I’m tired from the day, nothing comforts her faster during the night than popping my breast in her mouth!
Nursing a toddler definitely has its plus and minuses. N promises that she will stop when she goes to big school this June so I will most likely start actively weaning her when we get home from our vacation this May. Wishful thinking?