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I never thought my son and I would be here: our breastfeeding relationship still going strong with his first birthday just days away. I honestly didn't know if we'd make it a full day, or a week, let alone a month – let alone a year. Because breastfeeding had not been easy for me in the past.
I struggled to nurse my first three kids, and ended up formula-feeding them. Then my youngest and I figured out how to make breastfeeding work. And now, incredibly, I guess we are experiencing the extended-breastfeeding phenomenon.
He hasn't shown any signs of being ready to wean. Instead, he makes it easy for us to keep going because he loves, loves, loves to breastfeed, and we have our little routine down pat. Plus, my milk supply is still coming in strong, so why stop?
I admit that breastfeeding a toddler is different from breastfeeding an infant. At the age of 1, he can communicate that the boob is what he wants, which takes the guesswork out of it. He's not very subtle about his cues, either – unless you call ripping my shirt off in public or doing a dive-bomb for my chest subtle.
At this point, I'm over any weirdness I used to feel about extended breastfeeding, although I'm not sure when people will start giving me side-eye if we're out and about. And I'm not sure I really care. I'm far more focused on the special time breastfeeding my toddler affords us. This is the only time he stops moving for even a second, cuddles into me, and takes a much-needed time out from his busy schedule of tearing my house apart.
I especially love our wind-down breastfeeding ritual at the end of the day. I pet his hair, and reflect on how darn sweet he is. Oh yes, I've been bitten a few times, which hurts like nothing else. Still, it's sad to think we're coming to the end of our breastfeeding journey. I know it won't last forever, maybe only a few more months. He's already starting to look a teeny bit too big to sit on my lap and nurse. And he's so over hiding out under the breastfeeding cover. So hello, World! There's my boob!
Even with the accidental flashing incidents, just the other day I had a mom tell me I was a champ for sticking with breastfeeding this long. It felt good to hear that message of support. I know there are other mamas out there like me, loving every second our growing babies still want to nurse. I hope we can connect with one another and keep spreading that support. I'm over here, raising a boob to all of you.
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.