One of my biggest goals when I was pregnant, and then when I was managing life as a working mother to an itty bitty infant, was maintaining my (crazy abundant) milk supply for a full year. I took a breastfeeding class, had regular phone convos with my lactation consultant, and pumped more often than he latched on -- even (gasp!) pumping while drivingon the rare oh-crap-I-don't-have-enough-milk-stored-and-I'm-late-for-work occasion. It wasn't fun and it wasn't always easy, but I did it. I survived the pumping-every-two-hour beginnings (thanks to my super understanding job.) I survived lugging that pump everywhere I went, including jobs in New York City where I had to sneak into public bathrooms and even got caught boob-in-suction a couple of times. I survived the freezing and thawing, the4 am pumping sessions when he started sleeping through the night, the engorgement when I missed a scheduled pump time.
A year came and went, whizzing by like a missed train. Oh shit, was that it?
I started to panic. The celebrated time where I could have my body back, buy bras that weren't stretched or stained, dye my hair, drink more alcohol than I should -- it was here. Finally. But instead of relief and excitement, I felt myself clinging to every day that neared the 12-month mark. Every day that my baby was still an infant, not a toddler. An infant that needed nourishment from my body, and for which I was happy to oblige. I wasn't ready to stop. I couldn't.
He didn't need it from me, but I needed it from him -- the closeness, the infancy.
And then as soon as I made the decision to continue for a few more months (only once in the morning, once at night I told myself), he went into crazy gimme-gimme mode. Tearing at my shirt, whining and crying, and then throwing himself on the floor when he didn't get his milk. I tried to substitute with bottles -- didn't always work. I tried to distract him with toys -- nice try, his eyes would say mockingly. And just like that, I wanted it to be over.
But it's not.
Not even close.
Nearing the 15-month mark...
I do have my life and my body back to a degree, considering I'm only feeding him a couple of times a day. But now I'm entering this iffy zone where it's starting to get weird. He's a fully walking, mouth-full-of-teeth toddler who still crawls into his mom's lap and latches on for milk. If I don't stop it now, when will I? When he's two? When he gets enrolled in preschool? Kindergarten?
What started as his need turned into my need, which turned into his want and my convenience. Now when I give in to an extra feeding, I feel defeated. I can't imagine mustering through the tantrums and cranky moods, putting him to bed without the sleep-inducing nursing, or losing that sure-fire comfort option when he's sick or teething or needy.
But more than that, I can't imagine passing that stage and losing a piece of my baby.
But at the same time, I'm ready.
Or am I?
At this point I'm just waiting for my breaking point, where I put my foot down and that's that. And until that time, think what you'll think about the "weirdness" and "ickiness" of breastfeeding a toddler. One day it will stop...I hope.
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