There are times when I just don't want to nurse Chase. Nursing is hard work. It takes a lot of time; and space. He doesn't just fit in my lap in a chair anymore. We have to get up and move to the bed where its most comfortable for us. Chase is the kind of nursling that can get into moods where he regresses to the infant days. Before any action, must have milk. After any action, must have milk. It's tiring. And taxing on my body. Keeping up my water intake takes time and lots of mental checking of my physical state. Cotton mouth? Better drink some water. Stabbing pain in my head when nursing, better drink more water NOW. Add to this another toddler that wants milk every time his big brother has milk and you get a whole lot of uncoordinated flailing little hands, accompanied with ear splitting screams.
Why do it if it's such a hassle?
Because my kids need it. Simple as that. Would I give anything in the world to have Daddy nurse them for a while? ABSOLUTELY. But that's not the way nature intended. So I buck up and do the thing that only I can do. Sure, I can wean them both. They are beyond the minimum breast feeding ages that the various health organizations recommend. Contrary to what we all want to believe, weaning won't absolve me of any responsibility. It will only take away a very valuable tool for soothing just about any situation. They will still scream and resist diaper changes, cry when they get hurt, cry when they fight, have emotional break downs because the internet isn't working and we can't watch Umizoomi videos. And hugs don't work nearly as well as a good nursing session.
Do you enjoy torturing yourself?
Not exactly. When the words "can I have milk?" or the sound "eh, eh, miiilll" hit my ears there may be some tension, sure. But I'm careful to have a quick conversation with myself to resolve any issues. There are a couple of tactics I employ that help me keep a positive outlook and enjoy our nursing experience.
- Stay away from the "when are you going to wean" chatter. There are people that will only be interested in when breast feeding will stop. For whatever reason, once babies are no longer babies, that is they crawl, walk, and talk, those milestones signify a hard line in the sand that mark the end of breast feeding. At the slightest sign of frustration, they will start the barrage of "You should just stop. He's a big boy now and doesn't need to be breast feeding all the time. You've breastfed him long enough. If he asks to breastfeed, just say no." These thoughts are toxic. We might feel like they roll off our back, but in those tough moments, these thoughts come up and bang around our heads. It takes a lot of mental energy to fight these thoughts off. Toddlers are draining enough. Better to not have any negative thoughts that suck your energy away. The best way to do that is to avoid breastfeeding conversation with non-supporters.
- Take a moment and think about why your nurslings want to nurse, each time. This helps dispel any negative feelings we may attach to nursing. Nursing older kids tends to be more about soothing than it is about satisfying hunger or thirst. Which means many nursing sessions will be initiated during stressful moments. Rather than being annoyed that a kid can't handle putting on his shoes without nursing first (and after each shoe goes on) and attach that annoyance to nursing, think about why the nursing helps. He may be stressed, uncertain, upset, tired, overwhelmed, etc. Nursing makes him feel safe again. After a little milk he is calm, and reassured enough to go about his day. Think about the things that make you feel safe. What would happen if all of those things were one day marked as forbidden?
- Remember that the time to use the breast feeding trump card is limited. Chase is refusing milk during those hard moments more and more often. When he was younger, all it took was a couple of minutes nursing and everyone was good. Now in response to my nursing offer I get "NOOOO, I Don't Want Milk Momma!!" What in the world do I do now?!? Soothing an overwhelmed, panicky child without breast feeding is freakin' hard! Try reasoning with a little person that has learned enough to know he's super pissed but not able to articulate just what has sent him into a tizzy. It's maddening. Enjoy the trump card while it still works!