I don’t broadcast the fact that I am still breastfeeding. While breastfeeding your newborn is the hip, socially conscious even, thing to do that sexy buzz dies down quite a bit by age one.  Sure, there are plenty of supporters of “extended breastfeeding”…I guess?  I just don’t know any personally.  The support that I receive, when I come out of the closet enough to talk about it, comes mainly from online sources: “alternative” parent list serves.  But as I’ve become braver with this topic, I wanted to share my thoughts here in hopes that someone else might feel reassured and supported.

In case we’ve never met, I’m the farthest thing from a “crunchy” mom there is. Comfortable makes me shudder a bit.   Sneakers and shapeless clothes will occasionally induce anxiety.  And I’m definitely not one of those moms who is crazy-wild about breastfeeding.  I enjoy the closeness of being next to Elisabeth, yes, however it’s not always convenient and it definitely puts a kink into our schedules.  But yes, I still wear Elisabeth in a Bjorn and yes, I’m breastfeeding a baby toddler. This wasn’t the intention.

My goal was to breastfeed a year, then…what, exactly?  Transition her to cow milk?  I didn’t really have much of a plan honestly just that I knew that I didn’t want to wean her while we were in Germany.  That felt unfair and a little mean too, knowing that she’d be out of our element for almost two months.  I knew breastfeeding would provide comfort and stability at a time where Elisabeth needed it most.  I almost waffled on this as we went through a round of biting.  That was tough!  But research always helps calm my worries and it worked here too.  I decided that I would let Elisabeth take the lead on when she wanted to wean.  And why not?  This is what we’ve been doing with baby led weaning anyway.

Oh, the “why not” is big though!  Hundreds of reasons come to mind (greater control over one’s own schedule is one of the biggies) but honestly, all of it seems like pretty small potatoes when I do a basic cost/benefit analysis.  The benefits, for us, far outweigh the costs to my own time and comfort.  And this is coming from someone who loves her own space and independence like she loves vintage clothes: a lot.

"When I'm not breastfeeding, I enjoy having my mom push me on my trike."

“When I’m not breastfeeding, I enjoy riding my trike.”

I didn’t know that the fat content of breastmilk increases over the duration of lactation.  Awesome!  Elisabeth could use a little extra fat.  [That has actually been a huge worry for me: how light she is.  She’s tall but not heavy at all and now finally, confirmation of what I had suspected: there’s still good fat and plenty of it flowing her way.] I also didn’t know that extended breastfeeding is said to promote independence (even though that seems counter-intuitive) or that I didn’t need to introduce cow milk at all actually.  And of course, there’s the continued health benefits to both of us but the biggest reason is never very far from me: my own bright-eyed, healthy, happy little girl.  She loves it.

That’s where the story ends.  Elisabeth will be the one to dictate when we stop.  And while I know my needs are as important as hers, I’m okay with not being more than a few hours from her right now.  She may no longer be an infant but now is still more her time then my own.  How do I know this?  Because I spend the bulk of my days with her, not in an office.  That’s, fortunately for me, by our own choice.  We’re lucky enough to have that choice.  I know that many are not.  This is a time – perhaps the only, maybe ever in her life – where our world revolves around her, not the other way around.

What are your weaning plans?  Or what did you do with an older child that you are doing differently now?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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