I never meant to breast feed a toddler. I started breastfeeding a baby, my third baby at that.
My first, I weaned at 13 months, because I knew I wanted to get pregnant again, and being a sufferer of hyperemesis gravidarum, I didn’t want to be nursing and pregnant at the same time, so I dropped a feed at a time from 12 months, by 13 months we were down to mornings and nights only, and then we stopped. It was relatively painless, he was already sleeping through the night and, after a few days, stopped expecting to be nursed in the morning.
My second weaned herself at 12 months, or so it seemed. I went away with work and missed two bedtimes (she too was only feeding twice a day and sleeping through by then). The night after I got back, I sat down to feed her as normal and she turned her nose up at it. In fact, she screamed, until I got a bottle of milk out of the fridge, which she took from me and downed. Oh well, I thought, if that’s what she wants, it means I don’t have to “wean” her and never offered again.
My third, well, my third is my third. He is a wonderful little boy, but as a baby he was such hard work! He didn’t sleep for more than 2 hours at a time, and the only thing that would settle him was breastfeeding. He turned 1, and the thought of weaning went through my head. But if I weaned him, how much sleep would we get, if I couldn’t just roll over, give him some milk and go back to sleep, what would my nights be like? I envisioned nights of walking the hallway trying to persuade him to go back to sleep, spending most of the night awake, and then having school runs and work and a preschooler and a home to deal with in my waking hours. So I continued.
Time past. His wakings got less frequent. He stopped feeding to sleep (in fact most nights he prefers a cup of cow’s milk before bed, like his big brother and sister). But time has past, and the little boy who likes some milk in the morning, before his breakfast in not a baby. He is 18 months. He is walking, not quite talking, climbing and growing.
I never meant to nurse a toddler. But I nursed the baby I had and I parented him the way he needed me to. I never meant to nurse a toddler, but my baby grew and still needed me.
How long will I nurse him for? I don’t know. Probably not much longer – he doesn’t seem to need me to, so we’ll see.