29 Months

***This post is about nursing toddlers.  If you are uncomfortable in any way with this topic, please do not read.  I don’t mind thought provoking comments and friendly discussion, but I WILL NOT tolerate hurtful or rude people on this post.  It means a lot to me.***

Sadly, this is the closest thing to a nursing picture I have with my daughter.  I always tried really hard to be discreet with her, and didn’t like to show my breasts at all.  She is about 5 days old in this picture, and if I remember correctly, we had figured out the latch but she wasn’t interested in nursing because she still had her feeding tube.

I did so many things with her I regret.  Not only the birth, but with breastfeeding and starting solids.  Thinking about all of it just makes me hurt for our lost breastfeeding relationship because I took the advice of others instead of going with my gut.

She was a month early, but when her actual age was 4 months old, we were told to start rice cereal.  Her adjusted age was 3 months.  Saying that makes me cringe.  She was so young, so basically we sat her in her carrier and dripped rice cereal filled with breastmilk down her throat.

At 5 months (4 months adjusted) we started orange vegetables.  ONLY orange, just like her doctor said.  She was yellow for the first three months of her life because her jaundice level had gotten so high and it was taking a long time to work out of the system, and then we started the orange foods.  My baby was actually orange for a few months.  Looking back I see how completely ridiculous it all is.

At 6 months (5 months adjusted) we started green vegetables.  Her orange slowly faded out as we added more foods, but even then, she never really liked food that much.  We used the baby food jars, and if you have tasted them (besides some of the fruits) you know how truly disgusting they are.

I went back to work when she was almost six months old, and when she was about eight months she started nursing constantly.  She was eating three solid meals a day, and we wouldn’t ever really nurse during the day, but she would nurse ALL NIGHT LONG.  At the time I had no idea it was normal and she was just reverse cycling and comfort nursing, so I thought something was wrong, and at nine months, I weaned her.

She went straight to cows milk.

I heard it was fine, since that’s what I did when I was a baby and weaned at nine months, so I figured it was okay and she didn’t need to nurse anymore.

After we stopped, she got sick more than she ever had been in her life.  My milk never truly dried up, but there was no way I would be able to get my supply back, so I sucked it up, and realized that our nursing relationship was over.

When we had issues getting pregnant, I craved that missed relationship.  I wasn’t able to comfort her like I used to, and it felt like I had been replaced since the one thing only I could do for my daughter I had willingly given up.  In place of a gallon of milk from a cow.

Fast forward to August.

I had started learning earlier this year about the benefits of nursing toddlers, and even though I loved the idea, I had been raised thinking that toddlers did not need to be nursed and that it was “creepy”.  I was slowly coming around, but even now, sometimes the thought creeps into my head and I feel guilty for thinking about it.

I lost Tyrion and started pumping.  Glade, who had been weaned at nine months, 28 months ago, started becoming very interested in my breasts and the milk.  I had little jars in my freezer and I would fill them with milk and she would eat them like popsicles.  She was healthier, and it made me feel good that I could do something for her.

Then, about the end of August, she wanted to drink from my breast directly.

I was amazed.  I had wanted to do this for so long, and I thought it would be as easy as pulling my shirt down and she would latch and go to town.

I was so so so wrong.

No matter what we did, neither of us could figure out how to get her to latch.  When I weaned her she didn’t have teeth, so that was one struggle on its own.  Plus, she is very active, so she didn’t like lying still for that long, since the easiest way for us to practice was side lying.  We tried watching movies, having her suck on my finger, me showing her how to suck with my finger, I tried talking her through it, and all it did was end with me in tears and her wanting to go play.

She became disinterested, and I kept giving her my milk in cups or in her popsicles, and I thought we were done trying.  It was like I had failed at nursing her all over again.

Last week, I was finishing pumping, and so my breast was still hanging out of my shirt, and Glade dove.  She looked so excited that she just went for it.

And she latched!!

She was so thrilled that she popped off, looked at me completely shocked and said, “Mom, there’s milk in my mouth!” and went back to nursing.  I couldn’t believe it!

My three year old, after 29 months off the breast, had successfully latched and nursed!

Even now, after nursing again for a week, I cry thinking of how good that first time felt.

She doesn’t nurse very often, once or twice a day and sometimes if she gets hurt or upset, but even then, I know she is getting nutrition from me again, and hopefully it will keep her healthy this winter.

I know a lot of people would think I’m crazy for being so excited about nursing a three year old, but to me, this is one gift that my body knows how to give.  I have never had a problem with breastmilk supply, and it feels like even if my body sucks at other things, it can sustain life through its milk.

My three year old is now also getting that gift, along with the two babies I donated to.

And for me, right now, this is something that I also needed.  I am unable to give her a living sibling that she so desperately craves.  I felt like a complete failure when I let her down and ended our relationship early.  It shouldn’t have been my place to decide that.

This time, I am doing it different.  This time, we will do this as long as she wants.  This time, it is her choice.

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10 Responses

  1. That is such an incredible story! I’m so glad you have that bond again, and that you’ve learned so much that will help you the next time.

  2. Wow! What an interesting story of relactation! Thanks for sharing!

  3. You have had so many ups and downs lately! I’m so impressed with your story. You should write up Glade’s nursing story for LLL’s magazine or Mothering or something!

  4. Beautiful. I also am currently nursing a 3 year old. Its nice to have my feelings validated by someone in the same situation.

  5. This is so amazing. I’m in shock that she was able to figure out how to latch after all that time! So happy for both of you!

  6. I don’t know if I’d be comfortable nursing a toddler. Mainly because, unfortunately, I was not able to breastfeed my kids. I got tears in my eyes when I read this, I am so happy for you. I’m so glad that you got this experience back for yourself and your daughter!

  7. Oh, Kayce, that’s so moving! How wonderful for you two. My 4yo sometimes asks to pretend nurse. I snuggle her close, and she purses her lips and pretends. It it so sweet, and a little heartbreaking, because I still nurse her 2yo sis once a day. It doesn’t seem to cause any jealousy between them, thankfully, but I do sometimes feel sad for having weaned my 4yo at 14mos, when I got pregnant with the little one. It was the right thing at the time, but there is such a sense of nostalgia. Also, your post makes me think to get the camera out more often, to capture a few nursing moments! thank u! xoxox

  8. That’s wonderful! My son is almost 2 1/2 and still nurses probably 4-5x/day. It’s such a special relationship and I’m glad you’re getting to experience it and that you’ve been able to salvage so much good out of your pain.

  9. such a beautiful story, have you thought about sending it to Mothering.com?

    It made me cry.

  10. My 27mo DD was weaned at 11 months when I became pregnant with DS (now 8mo). At the time I was relieved, she was starting to get teeth, and no one else I knew BFed their baby that long. Now I wish I had kept nursing until DS was born, possibly even tandem nursing until DD chose to wean, instead of me choosing for her. I can see there are times in our day where she needs comfort that I just can’t provide – and I’m tempted to try to nurse her again. I have thought about it for 3 months before even vocalizing it, and now I’m worried about how to hide it from my DH who I don’t think would understand. *sigh*
    Your post was beautiful.

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