And the Breastfeeding Goes On

Our mattress hit the floor when my first son, Jack, was about 9 months old. Our journey toward bedsharing mirrored our overall journey as parents toward what is popularly referred to as Attachment Parenting. We struggled with just about every decision during those early months. We were fed misinformation from supposed trusted sources, we were confused and felt alone.

I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but that turned out to be the biggest struggle of my life. I fought tooth and nail every moment of every day and was able to be successful. So once Jack and I had an established breastfeeding relationship I just couldn’t see how I would wean him because of some arbitrary date. I wanted breastfeeding to continue to be a source of safety, security and attachment for him for as long as he needed it.

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And yet again, we found ourselves parenting against the grain.

After going through countless variations of co-sleeping we finally decided that we would put our bedframe in storage and place the mattress on the floor so that we could share a sleep space with our child without having to worry about him falling out of the bed. When my second son, Exley, arrived we were a full on proud bedsharing family. So a twin mattress was pushed up against the queen and we had a massively beautiful family bed.

Now Jack is 5 years old and Exley is 2 years old. I recently told my husband that I thought we were ready to put our beds back on their frames. I felt excited. It felt like a new phase was starting where our kids were becoming a less fragile. It seemed to symbolize that we were starting to come out of that Baby Blur. I started to imagine nightstands with little reading lamps, a fancy comforter and someday a bed for just my husband and me.

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And then I felt sad too. How did this happen? Just one day things are different now? I have no babies anymore? What would this next phase bring? What other changes are coming? Am I ready? Are my kids ready?

I don’t believe that my kids are anywhere near sleeping in their own beds. (They don’t even have their own beds yet!) But it made me stop and reflect on my current life. I noticed that the cloth diaper drawer hardly ever gets used anymore. The baby swing was put in storage. The carriers get used less and less. I gave away my Moby, the bassinette and the baby clothes. I have parted with just about everything that would signal there is a small baby here. Because there is no small baby here.

But do you know what struck me the most? The kicker of this whole story?

Both of my kids still breastfeed.

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We have gone through endless transitions in this family. We have barely had 1 whole month of consistency in 5 years. But breastfeeding goes on. Breastfeeding itself has evolved in more ways than mammals themselves, but it is still a major part of our lives.

Breastfeeding is not contingent upon any life circumstance, any date or developmental milestone. Breastfeeding is a relationship, a coping skill, a part of the very fabric of a human’s life experience. It does not end just because a child learns to walk or talk. It does not end just because mom or child celebrated a certain birthday. It does not end when the beds get put back on the frames. It’s a normal part of our children’s experience as young people and it will end when they are ready for it to end.

We do not need to stop our children from breastfeeding. We will not have a 14-year-old suckling from our teet if we don’t put a stop to this madness. Our 18-year-olds will not be sleeping in our beds if we don’t kick them out soon. If you want to end any of these things at any time that’s totally cool, but don’t ever believe any bullshit that what you are doing is not natural, weird, gross or leading to some future problem. It’s normal and you are doing great.

Things change fast when you have tiny ones. For every moment of torture that seems to last an eternity there are a million others that zip by without is even noticing. Until one day you put your bed on a bedframe and your 5-year-old in jeans walks into the room and asks how the planets were formed. But then later he snuggles in next to you to nurse to sleep just as he always has. And you realize all the changes aren’t that big after all.

About Abby Theuring

Abby Theuring
The Badass Breastfeeder is a mother, writer, social worker, attachment parent, proud breastfeeder and advocate. Her career as a social worker has shown her that gentle and connected parenting is vital for life-long emotional health.You can find her blog at www.thebadassbreastfeeder.com and Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TheBadassBreastfeeder.

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6 comments

  1. This is great, the amount of looks I get as if its wierd as he is coming up 2 2&1/2 years old. I feel like its the most normal thing in the world. He started nursery 3 weeks ago, just. 3 hours but he is so secure and has just gone in no problem and part of this I’m sure is because we r still breastfeeding so he gets all the comfort he needs whenever he needs

  2. Hi! Really enjoyed the article as I’ve been surfing the net trying to find an answer to my recent nursing drama. My 13 month old had all the sudden refused to nurse! We were nursing throughout the day before naps and about three times at night. She won’t even look at
    It when I offer it, which has been like usual because I desperately want her to nurse again. It’s been about two long days and I’m desperate to know what to do. Why has she refused? And so sudden? There were no sign previously of weaning. She doesn’t have a pacifier and I’ve never supplemented with a bottle. Please let me know what you think. Teething? Ear? She’s getting over a cold, is something bothering her? Thanks a lot!
    Jenna

  3. The tiny human I made is 14months and is still breastfeeding 3ish times a night and on call during the day. I can have the sitter bring baby to work as needed and only work weekends. As a single mom in a small space having one bed not only fits better but also lets us both stay half asleep during night feeding. Kido eats ton of different foods throughout the day, so I think night eattiing is more snack and comfort.
    I’m 30yo And still have midnight snacks from time to time.

  4. well i breastfed until my child was almost 3 years old.She still sometime wants to breastfeed…but she knows that baby my 9 months old need it more…so she does not ask for it frequently….also i totally agree it help ease temper tantrum …whenever she has the inconsolable tantrum…breastfeeding her really helps to calm her instantly

    • Love this comment! My son is 13 months and still breastfeeds. I’m also back at work though, so it’s mostly just mornings, evenings, and nighttime. But I’m in no rush to stop it, and see no reason to. I love this article!!!
      *We are also co-sleeping and I love it! People (my mom being one) have basically implied or said outright that our son needs to be in his own room, that co-sleeping is just convenient for ME. Lol! In my gut though, I know it’s the right thing for us – my son first and foremost!
      Always glad to hear I’m not alone! :)

  5. Wow! Good on you to keep breastfeeding. Not everyone’s brave enough to continue and thank you for saying that breastfeeding is natural and should not be deemed as gross.

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