So I guess I'm officially nursing a toddler! My little man just turned one. I can't believe we've been nursing 12 months and I'm now looking ahead on what to expect with keeping going. I never really had a set plan when we started. I took a great BF class before giving birth that really got me excited about nursing. I guess starting out I probably thought I wanted to at least make it to six months, but as I learned more getting to one year made much more sense. For the most part, our experience has been an absolute dream. I was able to nurse DS pretty much right after delivery and although he was a peanut at 5lbs, 11oz, he took to it like a pro. When we left the hospital he weighed in at 5lbs, 4oz, and within four days at our first doctor visit, he had returned to birth weight and thensome, 6lbs, 2 oz! Amazing the power of breastmilk! Now that we've hit the one year mark, I have some questions/concerns going forward that I'm hoping you ladies can help me sort out.
As of right now, I'm a SAHM (wow, feels great to say that!). I work in education and am going into my second year of child-rearing leave. If I want to keep my job, I would have to return to work by September 2012. I actually put in to return this January, but have the option to extend my leave to the fall, which most likely is what I'm going to do. At this point, I'm not really looking to rush into weaning, but I guess I am thinking about having DS completely weaned by the time I return to work, and possibly before. I guess right now I am willing to go to 18 months, and am open to going further but not sure. Right now I'm just going with the flow and thinking about things, with no set plan. I guess to some extent, we have weaned quite a bit, since DS eats solids like a champ and we no longer nurse every two hours. In a way, we're kind of doing a "don't offer, don't refuse" thing during the day, but in all honesty my DS doesn't really "ask" too much. If he does I can usually distract him, but I usually just nurse him, since he really doesn't nurse too often during the day. I think it's usually when he's tired or just wants to reconnect, and he's so sweet and non-pushy about it, how can I deny him?! So we generally nurse right before wake-up (around 6am), then before morning nap, then sometimes after lunch or before afternoon nap (if he takes one), then before bed. Night time is a different story! DS still wakes pretty frequently. We go thru phases. He was giving me a good 3 to 4 hour stretch, but now we're back to every two hours waking up. We used to exclusively co-sleep, and now we co-sleep and crib sleep. He starts out in his crib and at some point usually ends up in our bed. I just can't commit to keeping him in the crib all night, when I'm tired it's usually so much easier to just go get him and bring him to bed. I would rather be awake horizontal in bed than sitting up in the rocker! But in the last few months, he's been a real PITA in our bed, rolling all around, climbing on me, ect., whereas in the past he used to just snuggle up and go to sleep. This behavior causes me to be wide awake, because although we have a guard rail I still feel I have to monitor him and it's like a battle sometimes; he sits up, I lay him down, he crawls to the end of the bed, I pull him back up. When he does this sometimes I just try to put him back in the crib. However, he has been and is still nursed to sleep, so I can't just put him down. He needs to be held and rocked. There are times that when he wakes at night I can just rock him and he doesn't request nursing, however, if he's fidgity I nurse him, especially if he's playing his rolling games in our bed. I really resort to the boob as a tool, even though to some extent I would like to night wean him in the hopes he would sleep for longer stretches. Again, I just can't commit or just am not ready. I guess I'm far too lazy, nursing is just too easy!
I guess what I'm worried about is, by not making more of an attempt to cut out the night nursing, am I prolonging it? And I guess an even bigger concern is, since he is nursed to sleep for naps and bedtime, how am I going to make the transition for him to fall asleep without nursing? I think this is the thought that concerns me the most. I would love to hear how some of you have made this transition. I'm not ready to stop nursing altogether, but don't necessarily see myself nursing past 18 months to 2 years, and kind of feel I need a plan. As of right now, I'm not ready to commit to more active weaning, as I think DS is not ready and it will be a struggle that just isn't worth it right now. But I do think I need to look ahead. DS will fall asleep without nursing if rocked in his stroller or carried in the ERGO. But at night, he only wants me. Gets all worked up when DH goes in to get him. DH gets upset because as soon as he hands DS over to me, he immediately stops crying.
If you've made it this far, thanks for reading and letting me get some of my thoughts out. Please share your experiences on where you are in this journey and any insights and advice.