Toddler-hood can come with all sorts of challenges, there is one challenge however that I have found as the most challenging and have felt the most conflicted over. You see, my toddler has turned two seven months ago. I’ll explain further. Two has been a magical age in my mind, it’s when I am able to go back to wearing dresses. It’s when I can finally sleep at night peacefully. I no longer have stretched out necklines on every article of clothing I own. I can sit in peace. I can possibly go on a whimsical weekend excursion with my husband. At two my boobs might just fill up and stay plump-ish? But no, not only have all of those things not occurred something worse has happened. Now my two-year-old is equipped with self-service tactics, where whilst I am grocery shopping a swift chubby hand works to free a breast while the other pulls down the front of my shirt. The clever girl can request “two” or “the bigger one” in order to switch to her preferred side…which can be several times in a short period of feeding. Things have changed. The small amount of control I still pretended to have over nursing, over my breasts has vanished. So what did I do? I did what comes naturally to me; challenge accepted toddler. I began to refuse, a lot. I even contemplated an escape plan because although I was always a proponent of self-weaning she didn’t do it on my schedule upon turning two. I’d partially succeeded in teaching her some patience by having her ask and count to ten. This worked for a short while until even after counting I said no, there were times I said, “we just can’t even if you count.” The counting then became an angry, “ONE, TWO, SIX, SEVENTEEN, EIGHTEEN, NINETEEN, TWENTY!” She became so flustered she lost her count as she also lost confidence her counting will work this time. I’ll admit I’m impatient as well, I’ve tried to reason, tried a hug or snack or distraction but end up walking away or standing quickly to avoid the grabby hands. It makes me sad. I want to hope eventually my child will self-wean, but even so is this how I want it to be at the end? Sure, once she gets me to comply and we have our nursing session it’s usually sweet as ever. What’s the problem though? Other than feeling even less in control of my body than normal, I’ve also felt used. I don’t even know if that’s what I mean because I know my child loves me and enjoys being with me. It’s the busyness that came with becoming a toddler. She’d come to me to nurse them off she would go to play with her toys, get involved in an activity, seek out someone else. In retrospect I do the same, constantly, maybe even more than her. Nurse her, go do some house keeping. Nurse her to sleep, watch some television or catch up with friends on my phone. She is doing what I’ve always done but I have a problem with it. A more shameful admission is that I’m now breastfeeding longer than an age I’d, in my mind, said is ‘okay.’ Even the age of two was a stretch if you’d asked my teen self that would remark to my mother breastfeeding a three-plus years old sibling, “when do you think you’ll stop doing that?” I cringe. Now as I continue the breastfeeding journey I see how natural it is to continue, how it’s just part of our routine as we go through life together. As the time passed in my own breastfeeding I found myself not thinking anything of extended breastfeeding, I even admired it, but still told myself it’s not for me. I have to think there’s at least a small role of guilt as I continue to breastfeed since I admittedly judged my Mom for continuing her breastfeeding longer than I felt she should, as if had any place in that relationship with her breastfed child. And yet, here I am and if I ever had someone try and give there two cents on when I should be ending my breastfeeding relationship with my child it certainly wouldn’t go down as gracefully as my mother was in her response. Probably the biggest wedge I began to feel, as the time I’d dreamed breastfeeding would end for us came and passed, was I began to feel she ONLY wanted me for ‘milky.’ Thinking on it makes me feel silly because it’s so far from the truth. Honestly, yes, given the choice I would guarantee my toddler would choose to spend her time with me nursing over anything else. I’ve said it so many times, “She’s obsessed with my boobs!” But that’s me separating myself from my own breasts. When in actuality these breastfeeding sessions are full of giggles, kisses, tickling her toes, and sweet conversations just between us. We have each others undivided attention, even if not for the whole time she breastfeeds she can count on Mommy stopping whatever she’s wrapped up in and staring into her eyes. What do I do? What did I do? Are you also having this wedge in your breastfeeding relationship with your little one? I won’t lie, I still struggle. But I realized I’m the one that’s changed my mindset. I’ve decided I’m not part of breastfeeding when really I am my breasts to my child. Sounds odd, but I really am milky. When she wants to breastfeed, she’s asking for me. She’s asks a lot. But I know she wouldn’t be happy with an unattached breast, she wants that time with me. So declare who you are, whatever they call you ‘numies’ or ‘booby’ or ‘milky.’ They want you. They always will if you are there for them. It’s okay to be unavailable at times. Have patience and enjoy this time of breastfeeding because it will end. I’m saying this all to myself too.
Author: Rebekah Moore
Rebekah Moore is a work-from-home Mother of one adorable toddler. She has a background in mental health counseling and has worked to repair broken homes. Rebekah and her husband hope to provide a caring, supportive, and nurturing environment to raise their children. With this goal Rebekah has chosen to follow a Holistic approach to parenting and home life.