SISTER STILL WANTS TO NURSE
My daughter is 3 1/2 and usually only asks to nurse at some bedtimes.
Sometimes I don't mind, but other times I feel resentful because
I have just finished nursing my 13 month old son and I feel like
she's manipulating me. I like the closeness with her, but at times
I feel so touched out and would rather just lay with her and cuddle.
But I don't want her to feel rebuffed. Do you think she'll outgrow
it and it will work itself out? I'm trying to be very patient
and understanding. Thanks!
Krista, I can totally relate to what you are going through. My
first three babies all weaned themselves by the time they were
a year old, and I wasn't ready for any of them to stop nursing
that early. I really wanted to continue nursing my toddlers, but
they all lost interest in nursing around the time they started
eating lots of solids and became mobile (around eight or nine
months). With my fourth child, it was a whole different story.
She loved to nurse, and since she didn't development any attachments
to thumbs or security blankets (unlike her older siblings), she
used the breast for a pacifier as well as a food source.
When she was
two, and still nursing up a storm both day and night, I became
pregnant with her sister Brea. My milk dried up almost immediately
after I became pregnant, but she didn't care if she was getting
anything when she nursed or not. She continued to nurse all during
the pregnancy, and it got to the point where I would grit my teeth
and let her nurse on my dry breast for five minutes at bedtime,
but I was not enjoying it and was really ready for her to wean.
She continued to nurse after the new baby came, but she was limited
to nursing for just a few minutes at bedtime, and she accepted
that. I continued to let her nurse in spite of my mixed feelings
because it was clearly still very important to her. I remember
one time when she was three and had asked to nurse at some point
during the day and I told her no, she had to wait till bedtime.
She didn't argue, but a few minutes later she came up to me and
said "Mommy, I know I can't nurse right now, but it is okay if
I just touch your Milkyside?" (That was her nickname for my breasts
- in fact, I have a license plate that says MLKYSIDE and I know
people who pass me on the highway are wondering what the heck
it means). When she said that, I just melted. I decided that if
nursing was really that important to her, then I could wait until
she was ready to give it up on her own, in spite of my mixed feeling.
She gently laid her little head on my breast and patted it for
a minute, and then she was fine until her five minute bedtime
stopped nursing completely when she was four. She is a teenager
now, but still has fond memories of nursing. I am so glad that
I didn't force the issue with her, and I have fond memories, too.
Babies really do grow up way too fast, and while you worry now
about whether your little one will ever sleep through the night
or stop nursing, all too soon you'll be worrying about watching
her get in the car with a teenage boy and driving away. If you
think about the 18 years that children spend at home as a big
pie chart, then the piece of the pie that represents the time
they spend nursing is really a small piece, even if they nurse
for several years. This time of intense need and attachment doesn't
last forever, and she will stop nursing when she's ready.
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