Monday, September 22, 2008

Of nipples and nursies

Nursing does not diminish the beauty of a woman's breasts; it enhances their charm by making them look lived in and happy. ~Robert A. Heinlein


These lived in beauties have been feeding my heartsong for near on two years. As he lingers on the cusp of his second birthday, I felt that I should supplement Hayden’s newfound joy in independence by finally weaning. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, nor one that I wanted to rush into. Though I never thought I would breastfeed a toddler, it has been a wonderful and beautiful experience.

Hayden will now look at me with bottom lip fully extended and eyelashes in full flutter to ask for his “sisi’s.” While he nurses, he usually allows his hands to roam my bare belly, often searching for the other breast to hold and pinch. He sometimes lies quite still and snuggles right into the warmth of my body, his serenity a portrait of the joys of breastfeeding. Other times, he performs advanced yoga and nurses upside down, balancing on one foot and one hand. Always, he revels in his nursing and smiles at me lovingly whenever he catches my eye.

I came to the realization this summer that Hayden would never relinquish his hold on my breasts on his own accord. He has always loved nursing. He uses it for comfort, for thirst, for hunger, for undivided affection, for entertainment, for love. I wasn’t looking forward to weaning a spirited toddler from his favourite pleasure. I anticipated many tantrums and I stressed over heartsong’s possible feelings of abandonment or deprivation. Thanks to the plethora of mummy bloggers and some toddler-nursing friends, I can happily report that it’s been quite painless so far.

For a full week now, Hayden has been nursing only once per day. We easily cut out all other nursing sessions using distraction and cuddles. He soon became accustomed to the fact that we only nurse when we first wake up. Last Wednesday, he even forgot his morning nurse and we went a full 48 hours! Surprisingly, my milk lingers, even with these long distances between feedings. I’m taking my time in removing this final breastfeeding time together. It’s very much his favourite time together and is as much about comfort and waking up to the day in a soothing manner as it is about breaking the fast of night time with a sweet snack.

And so, the countdown is on. I have a goal that we will be fully weaned by Hayden’s second birthday. This leaves us with six weeks to ease gradually out of our final nursing session. I’m completely torn about the whole process; my selfish side wanting to keep nursing him to retain his infancy and my wise mummy side telling me it’s time to let go.

Despite the warnings and opinions of many in my life, I don’t regret our extended nursing for even a second. It’s been such a wonderful experience and we’re both happier and healthier for the extra time we’ve spent in our nursing relationship.

I think Marni Jackson said it best: Breastfeeding is an unsentimental metaphor for how love works. You don't decide how much and how deeply to love - you respond to the beloved, and give with joy exactly as much as they want.


Nick and Ce said...

I think Ce came to the same decision at the same time with Dan, who was still happily sipping away as he approached 2yrs. We expected wild protestations too. In the event, when he toddled through to our room early one morning, Ce just told him that he didn't need it now he was two. He just said "ok", and toddled back to his room, and never mentioned it again!

The W.O.W. factor said...

I think the decision is completely up to your heart, not what 'society' thinks is proper. You and Hayden know when it's time to end.
I do believe that nursing creates a lasting bond! For a life time!

cinnamon gurl said...

I love that quote.