I am irritated more than I would ever have imagined! Sometimes to the point that I just want to cringe and throw him off of me.(sounds bad, but true...eek.) It does hurt a little bit, but I can get over that. I just seem to be more irritated more than ever since I have been pregnant and nursing my toddler. I always thought that I would let Will self-wean when he as ready. Some days I get really sad at the thought of not nursing him anymore and other days I think it would be nice to prepare emotionally and physically for the next child. I know that some mothers would say," oh just tough it out for your child. He needs you"...and others would say," What?! He is still nursing?"
Well, after nursing Will for 2 1/2 years I can honestly say it has been so worth it!! It has been such a rewarding journey. Of course there have been a few struggles, mainly about what others in our culture say about extended breastfeeding, but I could not have imagined it any other way. Nursing Will has been the absolute best way to comfort him, give him nutrition and nourishment (especially with a dairy intolerance), it has been the best way to get him to sleep and a wonderful way to bond and provide security for him. But when does it end? It has to end sometime right?
There is not a timeline or a book or a person who can put a weaning date on the calendar. I have learned that nursing Will has become about a relationship and is not just something we do on a daily basis. And in relationships it takes two. My feelings matter just like his do, and at this point since I am pregnant I also have a second child to think about. I know many mothers who have successfully breastfed two or more children at a time. It is a beautiful thing!
Personally I have analyzed my situation...
-I sometimes think that my readiness to give it quits out weighs his. I just want to scream really loud, and he is not irritated, in pain, or uncomfortable. He is just doing what he has always done. This irritation is a result of tender nipples and being pregnant- not Will nursing. This is not something that I want to push on him if he may not be ready. Is this feeling just short lived? Will I mother better if I wean him? There would be less irritation and negative feelings.
When I think about it we have already naturally started the weaning process. At 10 months old he started eating a little bit of solid food. That is actually the first step in weaning. And right around when he turned two we made the decision to stop nursing him at night because it was making the bed (where we all slept together) very uncomfortable at night with him moving all over the place and waking up way to much with persistence to nurse when really all he needed at that point was comfort and love and knowing we were still there. That was actually pretty easy. I just told him that I would nurse him to sleep and then if he wakes up in the middle of the night I would cuddle him and not nurse him until the sun came up. After we moved and got settled last fall we also set up his own bed in him own room. We have always welcomed him into our bed when he woke up in the night, but stayed firm about not nursing him until the sun came up. Of course some nights he was more persistent than others, but usually telling him a story and giving him water and sometimes a few crackers would settle him back to sleep. We did this up until about 3 months ago when he randomly just started sleeping all night! wow! I did not think that day would ever come. He was one who would never sleep longer than 3-4 hours ever. Once he started sleeping all night it was kind of scary for me because I realized how big he was getting!
Also for a while now he has accepted other ways of being comforted and has realized that if we were in a place where nursing was not easy, grocery store, etc., he would be able to wait until we were in a convenient place. And then sometimes he would forget about it later and it left nursing for naps and bedtime and sometimes in the morning when he woke up. He really didn't ask to often other than those times...so back to recently while being pregnant and irritated. What we decided to do was to limit nursings. To distract him when he asked or to keep him busy so he would not ask. Thad started putting him to bed almost every night and in the morning we would get out of bed and say how about breakfast?! He is always ready to go down for breakfast and play with his cars and animals. So that really just leaves nap time. With out even realizing it weaning has really come along way. At that point I really had no other plan and the hurt and irritation started to go away! We just took it day by day.
Of course I would do anything for my children no matter what it took out of me, but does my son need a little nudge? As a parent I feel like guiding my child to the next face of life is one of my biggest jobs. Maybe this is time and all he needs is a little encouragement and then maybe then I will know if he is truly ready to wean or not. That was the case with having him sleep in his own bed and with giving him solid food. It brings lots of tears to my eyes thinking about never bonding with Will again in this way. He is growing up so fast! sniff. sniff. My midwife who tandem nursed her children gave me some really good advice. Along with reading "Adventures in Tandem Nursing" by Hilary Flower.- To look at my child's needs, to carefully consider my own needs, get lots of support from others, and just start somewhere. Very simple.
I thought to myself that if he is ready to wean then looking ahead there is a new relationship for him and I to develop. Showing him love and security in new ways. And, well in the last 3 weeks things have been a little different. Will decided to stop nursing correctly. If you know anything about breastfeeding you know that your child must open his mouth wide...Will refused to do this. He was sucking on my nipple like a straw. This hurt soooo bad!!!! I made him stop right away. He instantly left me with sores and cracks. I am assuming that maybe the taste of my milk changed and he didn't want to taste it anymore, he just wanted to suck for comfort. :) This was so disappointing to me! I had to make a decision, but I didn't want it to be my own. Well he is old enough to understand, so I told him that it hurt mommy really bad when he nurses that way and he needed to nurse right or he could not nurse anymore. sad. :( He has not nursed in almost 3 weeks. I am assuming that he may be weaned. This has been an emotionally hard time for us, but also a time to look forward and grow and learn. I am glad I got to nurse him for 2 1/2 wonderful and challenging years. But I now look forward to having a new nursing relationship with the new little one coming at the end of the summer. For now Will and I have lots of cuddle time. :)