This was my sister’s not-so-subtle (and slightly sarcastic) way of asking me how long I plan to continue breastfeeding my daughter. It was in response to something like, “Ow, baby! Watch those teeth!” during a nursing session she witnessed via Skype. The answer I gave her was along the lines of “wait til she’s two and then see what happens.” But the reality is so much more complicated than that.
First of all, night weaning is still sort of a new and precarious thing. Like, I feel any small hiccup could easily land us back in waking-every-90-minutes-demanding-milk territory. As it is, I’m lucky if she sleeps four or five hours straight. All too often, it’s even less than that. The plan was to master this stage before moving on to the transition back to her crib, but at this point, we might as well forget the crib in favor of a single bed. That isn’t going to happen as long as I’m nursing her to sleep. And if she ever goes all night without nursing, I have no idea what that will do to daytime feedings, which are still very much on-demand and very frequent. I still haven’t had a period, and at this point, I’m worried that’s not going to happen until she’s completely weaned, which delays any chance at giving her a sibling.
Those are the logistics. But the emotions are even messier. After all the struggles Missy and I had in the beginning, I’m proud of how strong our breastfeeding relationship is now. Obviously, I’m more than just a pair of boobs to her, but those boobs sure can work miracles. I’m almost afraid to lose some of that magic to weaning. But I do worry sometimes about her not having many other coping strategies.
Even before she started talking, she’s been able to tell me that’s what she wants, no matter where we are. Another child got too close to her at the playground? “Miwk.” She’s bored of the smorgasbord of toys and books strewn all over the floor? “Mo’ miwk.” I can’t give her my undivided attention because I’m attempting to put together some semblance of a nutritious meal? “Mo’ miwk!” She’s hungry, hurt, or tired? “Miwk! Mommy! Mo’ miwk!” And most of the time, I’m happy to give it to her.
But sometimes…I just can’t. Or I’m tired or hungry or cranky, too, and I just want her to figure out another solution. At those times, I feel like the boobs have made me lazy, like I’ve taken the easy way out instead of helping my daughter communicate boundaries with other children or better entertain herself or self-soothe.
And then I remember none of it has been easy. Sleep deprivation, silent reflux, wounded nipples, tongue tie, moving–twice–to a place where we know no one, starting over, losing Saba, doing all of it on our own. So I’ll take anything that makes my life simpler, be it magic boobs, peanut butter sandwiches–again, or a few minutes of mindless TV.
As it happens, this “easy” thing comes with the added bonus of sweet snuggles with my not-so-baby girl. She’s growing up in so many ways, I’m happy to hang on to this last bit of babyhood for as long as we can. Maybe not until she’s seven, but for a while. I know I may not get another chance.