Nursing My Toddler

It’s one thirty in the afternoon and I’m nursing my toddler to sleep for his afternoon nap. Around 9 o’clock this evening he’ll crawl up into my lap and snuggle in the same position we’ve been using for the past 22 months and nurse himself to sleep again for the night. When he wakes up in the morning and stands up in his crib and yells with warm, raspy lungs “mamaaaa” the first thing he’ll say after good morning is “nurse in mama’s bed?” and that’s what we’ll do.

I remember telling my mom when my son Finn was born, “you can’t get mad at me if I don’t nurse him as long as you nursed us”. A mom who nursed my brothers and me well into our toddler years. She laughed and said we’ll nurse however long we want. And now here I am nursing my almost two year old.
I look at his body on my lap now. His legs stretching way across my stomach and hanging down to the floor. His long arms crossed in front of him hugging his blanket. His head with his hair that is getting longer and blonder every day. His hair that I said I am never cutting. Let it grow! Let him grow! Just not too fast.
I mentioned nursing Finn the other day when I was getting my hair done and I saw surprised looks from the women in the salon. “Isn’t he one?!” A woman said with astonishment. “Actually, he’s almost two” I responded.
The truth is, nursing has always been good to us. It’s been the sanctuary in crowded rooms when Finn gets overwhelmed or tired and needs to take a break. It’s been the savior of meltdowns and tantrums. It’s been the best band aid when he falls or bumps his head and wants love just from his mama. It’s been the best travel companion, nursing Finn to sleep on planes, on boats, on long car rides. Those car rides when I strain my neck and body and twist myself over his car seat so he can reach and nurse until he drifts to sleep. It has been those special bonding moments between him and I, him staring up at me with those big blue eyes. I talk to him and tell him stories and he watches and really, really listens. He has never had a pacifier. He has never had a binky or a bottle. He has just nursed.
And sometimes, I think,  it can be as simple as that if you let it. When you’re pregnant you receive all kinds of advice whether you asked for it or not. One moment I remember was mom who talked to me about nursing. “Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. The moms who stress about their milk and their pumping and their bodies have the hardest time. It’s the most beautiful time- go into it with ease”. Nursing Finn those first couple months during the challenges and adjustments I tried to keep those words in mind. I nursed him when he was hungry. I pumped when I needed to pump. Some days it felt like all we did was nurse. All day long. But throughout it all- I tried to stay calm. And I think Finn felt that.
The other Saturday Finn woke up and my husband went and got him. He was so distracted and happy dad was home he wanted to go downstairs and start playing. I was waiting in bed for him to come crawl up on my lap and nurse. Our morning ritual where I look into his eyes and rub his little feet before we get up and start moving through the day.
I thought to myself, “this is how it will be one day when Finn stops nursing for good”. Because one day there will be that last time he nurses. Will it be in the morning? Or maybe late at night? Whenever he decides to stop I know it will be the right time for us. I’ll know that nursing Finn for this long was what worked for our family. It’s what made me ache with happiness. It’s what made me feel like I was keeping my son safe, and warm, and close to my heart. It’s what gave me the memories of a newborn asleep in my arms, milk breathed and happy, dreaming on my lap. These memories will remind me of a time when my son needed me and just me. A time when once, I was delicious.
instagram / @finnandjane_

10 Responses

  • This is such a beautiful read. I totally relate. And the next time I am nursing my one-year old little girl I shall remember your words. Thanks for writing this.

  • Yes! I was cuddling my hand in the crook of my neck as I read this because it is so my life right now. I’m so thankful for this stage in our relationship. Thanks for posting.

  • I am so glad I read this. I have a 16 month old and I breastfed her for exactly one year. She would never take a bottle even when I stopped so pumping, I did with my premature son, was totally out of the question. People frowned upon me for breastfeeding her for as long as I did cuz she was getting “to old”. I was already starting to wean her off the breast she was eating baby food people food and drinking soy milk (regular milk has never mixed well in my family she wasnt reacting properly to it either) I didnt understand what the big deal was I mean In England ive heard they breastfeed their children till like 5. I asked my mom what she (thought my go to for everything) she said she stopped at about a year. I did a little more brainstorming formula fed babies are switched at a year and my docters told me one year. It made me second guess my decision to just let her naturally decide she was done so on her 1st birthday I stopped. I remember her falling asleep in my arms that night as I fed her. Her gentle soft hands holding me and big blue eyes staring at me with a half smile. I held her much longer than usual before putting her in her crib that night and stood there watching her even longer. As I walked away tears just came pouring out uncontrollably. The next morning she ate her breakfast and drank out of her big girl cup. I felt like the worst mother in the world when she would pull on my shirt. I knew what she wanted. I would even sometimes get so upset I would just pass her off to my husband and run off and cry. A few times we even held eachother and cried together for minute. Worst experience of my life I would have rather gave birth to her again. Night time was the worst! Unfortunately the binky(ughh I hate that thing) and comfort of my arms and my blanket became her security. And still is. Anyways back to the point. Im so glad I read this cuz I am now pregnant again and have been overwhelmed with the idea of going through this horrible feeling all over. Its so hard to find breastfeeding moms nowadays. Especially ones who stick to it the way you are. YAY YOU! You will most definitely be my inspiration to breastfeed my new baby princess (still stumped on a name at the moment. Lol)
    Thank you oh so much! 😀

    • Thank you so much for this comment. I’m happy you were able to read and relate on your own level and your experience with nursing. Also, congrats to you for nursing as long as what felt right to you and your daughter, even if it wasn’t the norm among your family and friends. Like you, I was definitely nervous about weaning. Luckily it happened naturally for us when I went away for work for four days. I brought a pump and only had to use it once. It was clear my milk was going away. When I got home and Finn asked if he could nurse I told him the milk was gone and he understood. He asked me a few times after, even one morning came into our bed and said, “I know. You can’t nurse me anymore.” It was the right time for both of us. There are times when I think of nursing him and the memory makes me ache a bit- I do miss it. Anyway good luck with the next babe and congratulations! Did she arrive yet?? xo

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