Honestly, I'm Not Ready To Stop Breastfeeding
My youngest daughter will be 2 years old in December, and she’s still nursing. I know that she doesn’t really need breast milk anymore, and she can pretty much eat whatever she wants, because she has a mouthful of teeth. But I’m currently breastfeeding my last baby and honestly, I’m not ready to stop.
I never intended to breastfeed past six months to a year. Somewhere along the way, however, those dates came and went, and my daughter and I continued our daily nursing sessions. I nursed her on demand while I was on maternity leave before I eventually started supplementing with formula and pumping breast milk. Then we moved on to nursing three times a day when I was back at work, and now she sometimes nurses right when I get home from work or before going to bed.
I've been asked a few times why I continue nursing my daughter, even though she's now more than capable of eating solids. But the real reason why I keep breastfeeding is because she is my last baby. After her, there will be no other chance to nurse again. And to be perfectly honest, I'm just not quite ready to accept that.
I would love to have another baby, but I know that I am only going to have two children. That is not by choice: I am not able to conceive naturally because I struggle with infertility. It was only after fertility treatments and two successful intrauterine inseminations (IUI) that I was able to get pregnant with my girls. The medication, doctor visits, the injections of hCG (ovidrel, novarel, profasi, pregnl) to trigger ovulation, and the actual procedure were not only costly, but also made for a highly emotional experience.
I am in no hurry to stop nursing my daughter, because I know it's most likely the last chance I'll ever get.
Pain-wise, the vaginal ultrasounds, blood tests, and nightly shots injected into my stomach were not the worst part of the fertility treatments. But every time I was probed or poked or shot full of medication, I hit an emotional breaking point. The mixture of hormones and coming to terms with the fact that I could not conceive naturally made me depressed, which resulted in me crying on the way home from the doctor's or constantly snapping at my husband when it was time for my daily shots.
I was just so disappointed in my body and could not understand why it refused to work the way it was supposed to. I know I can’t put myself through all of it again, even if it does mean adding another baby to our family. For that reason, I am in no hurry to stop nursing my daughter, because I know it's most likely the last chance I'll ever get.
With my first daughter, there were times when I wanted to give up on breastfeeding. I'd put so much pressure on myself to nurse exclusively for the first six months, yet being on call 24/7 to adhere to my daughter’s nursing demands was incredibly stressful. It was not until I started supplementing with formula and pumping breast milk that I finally relaxed and felt some semblance of myself return.
My daughter loves, loves, loves, the boob, to the point that she would nurse 10 times a day if I gave her the opportunity.
With my second daughter, I didn't put so much pressure on myself to breastfeed her exclusively, which made it that much easier to do so. Nursing by choice instead of nursing out of some misplaced sense of obligation has taken away many of the not-so-enjoyable aspects of breastfeeding, like constantly worrying about consuming too much caffeine or alcohol. If she wants to be nursed and I can’t do it right then and there, she can get nourishment from something else, like a piece of fruit or a cup of milk. The pressure is gone!
It also helped that my daughter loves, loves, loves, the boob, to the point that she would nurse 10 times a day if I gave her the opportunity, even now that she eats solids. There is something comforting about breastfeeding that we both enjoy, so we're not in a rush to give it up anytime soon.
Today, the majority of my nursing sessions with my daughter take place when I get home from work or when it’s time for bed. I can't even tell you how much I look forward to these little moments. Hearing her call "Mama, mama" when I walk through the door after a day at the office and bringing her in for a hug before she nuzzles my neck and asks for milk, is so comforting. And the feel of her warm little body in my arms as she dozes off right before bed is just everything.
These little moments make me sad, because I know that I’ll most likely lose them when she is weaned, and I’ll never get to experience them again with an infant or a 1-year-old or a nearly 2-year-old. Instead they will be memories captured in blog posts or a baby book. These memories of how close I feel to my daughter and how much she enjoys being held and comforted in my arms will be ones that I look back on when she decides it's time to stop nursing. Until then, I’ll hold her a little tighter to ensure these little moments are committed to memory.