It was a busy, sunny day in the narrow streets of Luxembourg City. We were browsing around a small shop when our son woke up crying.
Uh oh, somebody’s hungry!
These shops are tiny, crowded, and hot. Definitely not enough room to sit and nurse. I took our 14 month old and sat on a large cement block just outside the storefront. He latched on immediately, snuggled up, and nursed away. As I sat there enjoying the scenery, an older gentleman smiled as he walked by, tipped his hat, and declared, “Bon Appetite!”
I couldn’t help but smile back. I never imagined I would still be breastfeeding, and was truly enjoying it!
I wish I could say it was like this from the start, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Breastfeeding, for me, was a painful journey.
I went through months of trying breast shields, creams, and alternating between pumping and nursing. Getting that “perfect latch” was nearly my undoing; and for a long time, that “perfect latch” was between me and a pump, and my baby and his bottle…and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
(Side note, here is an AMAZING article for all you pumping mamas, pumping IS breastfeeding!)
But finally, at five months old, we were there! I could, at last, nurse him confidently and pain free! HALLELUJAH!
My original plan, to nurse until he was at least six months old, went straight out the window. I was loving it! It was a new way to bond with him, and let’s face it, it was easy. We were living in Germany and traveling quite a bit. I never had to worry about bringing bottles, packing formula, pumps, etc. He ate his own meals at restaurants and at home, and nursed in between. Mommy and baby were happy.
So six months turned into a year, and a year into two.
Don’t get me wrong, there were downsides. With my husband being deployed for a combined year before our son turned two, my breast wasn’t just a source of food, it was his comfort blanket and his constant. If he bumped his head, he wanted to nurse. If he fell down, he wanted to nurse. If it was Wednesday, well, you get it.
I tried weaning him a few times when he was just over 12 and 18 months, and he was not having it. Which is probably another reason why I breastfed so long. He was attached and frankly, it wasn’t worth the battle. Until he was a little over two years old. It was time, I was ready to have my body back.
He still has moments where he wants to “snuggle boobie”, but in the end, it was all worth it. Despite the frustration, tears, and even some odd looks towards the end, I will forever cherish the sweet memories. Especially when he would reach out with his adorable, chubby, itty bitty hands and look up at me. My heart just melts thinking about it.
Children, and mothers, have their own wants, needs, and personalities. What works for some, may not work for others, and that is OK!
So, to all you mamas out there who aren’t sure how long you should breastfeed, or when the “appropriate” weaning age is, I’m here to say, “do you, mama, do you!”