There have been some strange goings on in the world of breastfeeding my two year old son these past few days. Since I’ve never breastfed a toddler before, I don’t know for sure what weaning looks like but I’m wondering if that’s what is going on. I know I sure benefited from reading about other mamas’ experience breastfeeding toddlers since I didn’t have too many role models to ask.
Sometimes in the evening when we get home from school and work, Hugo forgets to ask to nurse until close to bedtime. That seems perfectly natural as he’s not very hungry and happy to be back playing with trains. But when he does ask, I’ve noticed that he almost seems to be doing it more out of habit than desire. I can tell because his latch deteriorates and gets painful as he pulls back, looks around, kicks his legs. He’s also a twiddler, which can make me insane. I didn’t stop him from creating that habit because it appeared to help him get to sleep when he was 9 or 10 months old and he gets very upset if I try to stop him now. But now he seems to be trying to get a reaction out of me by pinching my nipple or arm, and even better, using his short but sharp nails.
I didn’t mean to complain in this post – I’m generally happy to breastfeed and content with my decision not to wean Hugo before he’s ready, but it’s not always easy and pleasant. I should keep a journal of some sort, because it seems like breastfeeding makes me want to jump out of my skin at certain times of the month. That would be very interesting from an anthropological standpoint, if mom can’t stand breastfeeding mid-cycle when she’s fertile. Fascinating!
Anyway, I read about the love/hate relationship that moms can feel breastfeeding a toddler when Hugo was very young over at The Leaky Boob and it really stayed with me. I’m grateful that she shared that. Sometimes I run out of patience and cut him off before he was done and he’ll cry or whine, but it strikes me that he cries because breastfeeding wasn’t providing him with the comfort or result he was expecting.
I’ve been working on night weaning Hugo very slowly. I stopped nursing him to sleep a couple of weeks ago, and was amazed that it didn’t seem to upset him too much. That was the only way he went to sleep with me for more than two years! But suddenly it seemed to take a lot longer for him to fall asleep than when his dad or teacher would pat him on the back as he lay in bed.
This is also the case when he wakes up in the middle of the night. I bring him into bed with us and nurse him back to sleep; except it seems like nursing wakes him up lately. I had this idea that he’s been waking and actively nursing around 4:00 am in recent days (weeks?) because he’s actually hungry. I concluded this because he becomes active and then stays awake for a while, more than a few minutes.
Last night he woke from his bed around midnight. I remember him waking up and actively nursing at 3:00. It was uncomfortable (maybe the time of the month thing) and I got frustrated. I said “Hugo, it’s not time for boob boob!” and pulled away from him. I expected a wail of protest, or certainly that he would wake up all the way and ask to nurse again. Instead he rolled over and slept deeply until after 6:00. It seemed significant to me for some reason but maybe it’s just exhaustion talking.
I thought I got plenty of sleep last night but I’m feeling really dopey today. I don’t regret that I haven’t slept through the night since Hugo was born because I usually feel well rested, but I do look forward to it some day!