Re: Nursing and return of fertility
The answer to question #1 is yes. Children really will wean on their own if you let them. The main issue with self-weaning is when it will happen. A lot of kids will happily nurse for 4-5 years, and a few would even go longer than that. So the child's timetable and the mom's timetable... They just might not match all that well.
The answer to question #2 is also yes. There are women for whom fertility does not return for years, and some won't get it back until their children are nearly or completely weaned.
Speaking as an older mom myself, I think it might benefit you to take a very hard look at your goals and your feelings. I see 4 possible scenarios for you.
1. You don't wean, but your fertility returns and you get pregnant and have another child.
2. You don't wean and your fertility doesn't return and you don't have another child.
3. You wean, your fertility returns, and you have another child.
4. You wean, your fertility doesn't return, and you don't have another child.
The way I see it, scenario #1 is ideal. Everything works out without you having to do anything or make any tough choices! It's the other 3 scenarios that are difficult. If you wean, will you feel sad/guilty/angry/whatever about it? Would weaning be a worthwhile price to pay if it meant your current baby got a sibling? Will you feel worse if another baby doesn't come along even though you weaned your first baby? If you don't wean and there's no second baby, will you feel like you made the wrong choice? There's no right answer to any of these questions- it's all about how you feel.
If it were me, I would start examining my feelings, and I would also take some practical steps to determine what my body was up to. I'd go and see my midwife or obstetrician and start a discussion about what you should expect, possible steps to take. I'd start charting- if you haven't read Toni Weschler's book "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" I really recommend it as a primer on all things related to fertility and charting. It's possible that charting could reveal a problem, or it could also reveal that you're already well on your way to getting your fertility back.
Are you using any birth control at all at this point? And if so, what are you using? I know this is a long shot, but some moms don't realize that hormonal contraception can prevent a woman from having a period. So if you were using, for example, Mirena or the minipill or something, that could be preventing you not only from ovulating and conceiving, but also from menstruating. And I get the feeling that you'd welcome evidence of your cycle at this point.
Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"