I'm the sort of person who makes big decisions based on my innermost feelings about a topic. I like to call it "moving with inspiration." This sort of living is not usually based on logic or rational thinking but rather, asking myself the question: "Am I being moved to do this now?" If the answer is no, I usually stay still, and wait. I've gotten better at waiting over the years, and trusting that process.
The last time I wrote about the weaning journey, four months ago, I was experimenting with a ritual to wean my two and a half year old gently. I tried it for a week or so and Liam indeed started nursing less. However, it never sat entirely right with me because I did not like the thought that I was orchestrating the process in any way. Nursing is a relationship with so many benefits for my son, and one that I still loved, deep down. The reason I was considering weaning was not because I was positively attracted to it, but rather because I was trying to increase my fertility to avoid miscarrying again.
I don't remember the exact moment that I abandoned the "weaning plan," but it may have been around the time that I got pregnant again. Simultaneous to cutting back on breastfeeding, I was pursuing acupuncture for fertility with an acupuncturist who I trusted and who had treated me successfully for a recurring infection a few years back. Acupuncture, with its Eastern roots, is a healing art that I find mysterious. I usually turn to it for situations where home remedies and conventional medicine have nothing else to say; in this case, to balance fertility hormones that seemed out of whack in me.
After eight acupuncture treatments, I felt that the pregnancy was well-established -- I had gotten farther along than the last one. My acupuncturist agreed, wishing me heartfelt congratulations and good luck. In the meantime, we were still in the depths of a Virginia winter, and Liam in his first year of preschool, picking up a new virus every week or so. I didn't hesitate to let him pick up again and breastfeed more when he needed the immunities, or closeness. These days, he nurses once every 1-2 days, usually in the morning. I can tell that natural weaning may be approaching; the quality of his latch is changing, he gets distracted more easily. I have a loose goal in my mind of nursing him until at least his 3rd birthday (approaching quickly, in March) -- maybe because I was impacted by research I read that cultural factors aside, the natural weaning age for humans is around 3 years old on average.
But you know what? That's a goal I'll keep open as well. Baby #2 is scheduled for a summer arrival, so I'll pay close attention to the impact of occasional toddler nursing on my body, energy, and mood, especially as the birth is approaching.
The good news is that experimenting with weaning is reversible, so if you are like me, you can stay present, trust your instincts, and see what works for you and your child. And enjoy, deeply, those extra warm, reclined snuggles with your little one which you never imagined you would still be having.
I am thrilled to share that my board book celebrating breastfeeding through the ages and stages, A Nursing Love Poem, is now available for purchase! You can find it on Amazon or purchase it from me directly for a 20% discount over the Amazon price. Just send me a note at michelle (at) findmybalance.org.