In three days from now, I’ll celebrate a milestone with my wee Willow. We will have made it to 17 months breastfeeding. As I write that, I’m filled with a mix of emotions. I’m so proud of myself yet I’m also a little exhausted just thinking about it. Breastfeeding and practicing attachment parenting while running a company and maintaining an active social life is HARD WORK!
Over the past 17 months, I’ve nursed my child to sleep every single time (except for a handful of times when I was away from her), I’ve nursed her every single time she hurt herself, I’ve nursed her when she was sick, I’ve nursed her when she needed a little cuddle and I’ve nursed her when she first signed “more” and later asked for mama.
I’ve nursed her on a plane numerous times, in doctor’s offices, in parks, in a movie theatre, in the front and back seat of my car, in Wal-Mart, in a mall, while sitting at my desk working, in restaurants and anywhere else the need to feed my child arose.
I have slathered my nipples in Jack Newman’s breastfeeding ointment more times than I can count, I’ve suffered through “rusty pipe syndrome”, worried about foremilk/hindmilk imbalances, spent hours trying to wake my sleepy newborn to eat, dealt with growth spurts/cluster feeding, navigated through proper latches and different feeding positions, wore nipple shields, pumped for hours and dealt with opinions from strangers on the way I am feeding my child (mostly good, some not so good).
But now, at 17 months, I wonder if we’ve reached our end.
Willow, for the past week or so, has started biting me nearly every feeding. She seems way less interested in nursing and will only nurse for a few minutes before getting bored and moving on. The only nursing sessions that she actually does well with are those right before bed. Otherwise, she’s turned into an “angry nurser” and it’s killing both my spirits and my nipples.
I’ve done all kinds of things to get the biting to stop: I’ve tried removing her before she gets to the “done eating, play now” phase, I’ve unlatched her and told her no while setting her down, I’ve tried pushing her face (gently) into my breast when she bites so that she experiences something unpleasant after she bites but I’m seriously at a loss here.
It used to be that she’d nurse while we co-slept and those sessions were peaceful and always amongst my favourite. Now those sessions are horrendous for my nipples as she pulls back (with my nipple still in her mouth), bites and creates a super lazy latch, which causes problems for me.
So I’m not really sure what to do. Is it time to wean her? Is this her way of saying that she’s no longer interested in nursing? Or, is this just a passing phase? My goal was to nurse her until she was 2 years old but at this point, I don’t even want to nurse her one more time. I think I might be reaching my breaking point too (and I know this to be true because writing that phrase six months ago would have induced tears for me… now it almost induces relief).
The only thing I’m worried about is that if I do wean her, how the heck do I get her to sleep? We’ve only ever nursed her to sleep so I have no idea what I would do there.
Leave some advice, if you have any, in the comments! I really need to know if this is normal behavior, how to get through it or if you think that she might be ready to just wean from nursing. Thanks in advance!