Tandem Nursing – 3 Years and 2 Months

The theme of my life for the last few weeks has been “getting the hang of things.” This applies to all aspects of having two children, but especially so with tandem nursing. Things are just starting to fit.

Ask me a month ago, and I didn’t know if we’d get here. I was fixing to burst with annoyance for my toddler. She was asking to nurse All. The. Time. and I was tired of it. Not to mention it being painful when she did actually nurse. I was actually considering weaning and, I won’t lie to all of you, the thought crossed my mind of going cold turkey. I knew it wasn’t really an option because how devastated Peanut would have been, but for a moment I desperately wanted it all to just go away.

So rather than traumatize my first born, I decided to just decrease how often she nursed. We got things down to nursing before naps and bedtime and I told her it was a “rule” that we only nursed during those times. She still asked, but she seemed to accept it when I told her the rule. After about a week of that, I was feeling much better. So much so that I thought about maybe letting her the next time she asked. I did, and things have actually been great. I found that stepping back from the situation, I missed her nursing in the daytime. I missed both of them together sitting on my lap nursing. I missed the connection that I got with my toddler when she was wide awake and nursing rather than falling asleep and nursing. I’m sure that I would have found that connection another way and I know one day I will have to, but I’m very grateful I didn’t give in to my rash thoughts a month ago.

At a La Leche League meeting I was at a few days ago, a mother brought up how people who have never nursed an older child sometimes say that the only reason for the older child still nursing is because the mother wants to. There are obvious problems with that statement like trying to make the mother into a sexual deviant that gets erotic pleasure out of the child nursing or a helicopter mom who won’t cut the cord. I’ll admit though, I do enjoy nursing. There are certainly times that I don’t enjoy nursing, and I those of you in my blogging world often hear the most about those times, but I also enjoy it too. I love the bond that I gives me with my oldest.

Beyond that though, it’s more than just the nutritional and emotional benefits. It’s also about the fact that my preschooler is still a baby. From the moment of birth, we start trying to push our adult expectations onto our children. They should sleep through the night. They should have a schedule. And as they become toddlers, we continue to push our ideals onto them. They shouldn’t jump on the couch. They should sit quietly. We continue to try to make our children adults until they finally are and we’re left wondering where our babies went.

When I think about Peanut and the fact that, as of Tuesday, she’ll be 3 years old, a preschooler, I feel like it’s been an eternity. Not in a bad way, but rather because it is truly difficult for me to recollect my life in the time prior to her birth. She is my everything (well, part of my everything that involves Twig and daddy also) so much so that my mind seems to have written her backwards in my life. Like she’s always been there somehow, I just had to meet her. Sometimes I look at her and I’m in complete awe of the little person she’s become. In three short years, she’s formed opinions, she’s developed speech to the point where adults can understand most things she says, she has a favorite color for hope’s sake! Yet, it’s still just three short years. When she enters junior high, what she’s lived now will be just 1/4th of her life. When she starts a family, perhaps it’ll be 1/10th. When she dies, hopefully at a ripe old age, it could be as little as 1/30th.

So yes, my preschooler is still a baby. She’s still so young. One day I will look back and cry that I can’t cuddle her in my lap and nurse her one more time. So for as long as I can, I will let her stay my baby. I will give her comfort in the way she expects until she eventually finds new ways to be comforted. Then when she’s grown enough that she no longer wants to nurse, I will simultaneously mourn the loss in our nursing relationship and welcome the new chapter in our lives.

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5 thoughts on “Tandem Nursing – 3 Years and 2 Months

  1. “When I think about Peanut and the fact that, as of Tuesday, she’ll be 3 years old, a preschooler, I feel like it’s been an eternity. Not in a bad way, but rather because it is truly difficult for me to recollect my life in the time prior to her birth. She is my everything (well, part of my everything that involves Twig and daddy also) so much so that my mind seems to have written her backwards in my life. Like she’s always been there somehow, I just had to meet her.”

    I LOVE this! I have a 2.5 year old and a 10 month old and I really do find it difficult to remember a time without them. :-)

  2. Are there any actual benefits to nursing her at 3 years old? Is she potty trained? It seems more like you don’t like implementing any limits for your child. She isn’t really a baby anymore because she can walk, she can talk, and she should be able to go and use the bathroom herself. When exactly is she not a baby anymore then? I’m all for nursing, but 3 is just way too old and weird.

    • Actually, many of the benefits of breastfeeding continue on no matter how long you breastfeed. Of course it’s still the most nutritionally sound food you can provide, but also lowering risks of cancers and chances of higher IQ just keep getting better the longer you breastfeed.

      I don’t see why breastfeeding is considered something I need to limit my child on. Would you limit the amount of time you cuddle with your toddler? Or how many times you can hug them in a day? Breastfeeding is a way to show love. I don’t know when she’ll grow out of needing this type of reassurance just as I don’t know when she’ll decide she doesn’t want to cuddle while we watch a movie anymore.

      I understand your reservations. If you would have asked me while I was pregnant if I’d still be nursing at 3, I most certainly would have said no. It’s just not something you can understand if you haven’t been there, at least not in our society. I was convinced I’d stop nursing at a year, but when she turned 1 year old, I couldn’t figure out what was different from when she was .9999 years old. It’s not like she suddenly one day becomes not a baby anymore. It’s a gradual process. She’s less of a baby than my 2 month old, but she’s still not a small adult.

      Oh, and yes, she is potty trained. Has been for nearly a year now. :-D

  3. Nursing an “older” child can carry with it challenges that most people aren’t privy to. I remember when my daughter and I were experiencing some nursing challenges when she was 2.5 years old, even the most supportive of my friends offered only, “There’s nothing wrong if she weans now.” This would have been the support I’d needed if it had been the right time to wean, except that it clearly wasn’t the right time for us. We found our way through and stopped nursing entirely a year later. FWIW, it’s been easier with my second (now 2.5 years old himself and also “potty trained”) because we’re feeling the social pressures so much less (perhaps because people have grown tired of me ignoring them when the make comments about his “still” nursing).

    At any rate, I’m glad that you’ve been able to make your nursing relationship with Peanut work for you both in a way that respects the needs of everyone involved. That kind of respect will serve you well, I believe, long after nursing is part of your history rather than your present.

  4. Pingback: Gentle Weaning Means Knowing When to Stop « The Adventures of Lactating Girl

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