Dear Daughter,

You are only three weeks old and so no one really asks yet about your weaning time.  Those questions will come later, along with the many and varied opinions about when you should be weaned. Having been through this twice before with your older brothers, I already know the answer to this.

Let me share a secret with you. Weaning is misunderstood. It views nursing as an act with a beginning and an end where the end is chosen and a hard drawn line in the sand. It’s not like that.

Nursing is a part of motherhood, of parenthood. It blends in with all of the other things and it fades in from the obligations of pregnancy and then fades out into the series of obligations of a parent to their growing child.

There was no hard drawn line for the start. Even before your birth you drew from my body. You grew within my womb. You were nourished from my placenta. I was your life support system and home while you prepared to be born. It was when you were ready to be born that you signaled to my body that it was time, and it was then that labor began.

Moments after you were born. You squinched your little eyes at me and bobbed your head around and fussed because you understood that there was something to be done, but not what to do.  Instead of sucking, you chomped down. Then you pulled your head back and mewled. We worked together and gradually you learned what to do. And a few days later you stopped biting and set into an easy pattern of nursing that allowed my cracked nipples to heal and my milk to flow.

I do not know the moment that you were conceived. I do not know the moment that your cord stopped pulsing. I do not know the moment that you stopped chomping down and began to nurse.

Some day you will no longer need the sustenance from my body, your suckling reflex will fade away, and instead of turning eagerly toward my breast you will do as your older brother does now as I am writing this. You’ll turn your back to me and curl into my arms in a different way, and you will comfort yourself to sleep with my proximity rather than my breast. And then on another day further into the future you will be even more independent still and instead of curling into my arm you will use my belly as a pillow while you talk to me about Kindergarten friends, as your oldest brother does. And then you will walk back to your own room and your own bed, and you will fall asleep on your own.

I do not know the moment that you will stop nursing. I do not know the moment that you will stop comforting yourself to sleep with the closeness of me. I do not know the moment that you will move off and be fully independent with a life of your own creation. I know that you will do each of these things when it is time for you to do them. And I know that I will smile with pride at your independence even if I want to hold on a little longer.

The commitment that I’ve made to you is life-long. There is no hard start, no hard ending, no fading away of obligation. There is no “weaning” that I plan on doing. There is you. There is your quest for independence. There are the needs that drive your little body and that will fade and change with time. And there is me. My job is simply to be here and meet your needs as you have them. I need neither to push you away nor hold onto you, as you will peel off or cling close according to your needs.

You already have that drive for independence and will take it eagerly at your own pace. Weaning is not something that I need to do. It is something that you will do as an inevitable part of growing up and of life.

I will not hold you back, and I will not push you away. I will not nurse you forever, but I will always be there for you and I will always love you.

<3 Mama

 

89 Responses to I Will Not Nurse You Forever

  1. jujumama says:

    Love it! Posted to Facebook. Thank you for this beautiful description of what we do. :)

  2. Deva says:

    Thank you! This made me cry, as I sense my time nursing my son are coming to a close. He is 18 months and only nurses about once a day anymore – so bittersweet!

  3. Sometimes it makes me sad to think that I will not nurse my daughter forever. This letter is a lovely reminder that nursing is just part of, and just the beginning, of the bond we form with our babies. Beautiful.

  4. Teli says:

    Thank you thank you thank you! I feel stronger after reading this. We will persevere. My son is 1 and my daughter will be three. When will it end, I don’t know, but I will follow her lead. Nature knows what she is doing.

  5. Melissa says:

    I. love. this. I’m nursing a 15 month old and getting the “comments” now :(

    • Katherine says:

      Pretty simple solution to that; don’t get mad, ignore them.

    • DragonMama says:

      I got snarky when people gave me those comments (my 3 sons all nursed past 18 months, my older two were about 30mo when they weaned, I lost my milk due to illness on my 3rd son when he was about 20mo but I’m pregnant again and hope he’ll come back to tandem with his sibling – the older two tandemed with their younger brothers occassionally). My response to “when are you going to wean him? Are you going to follow him to college so he can still breastfeed???” (yes, that was actually said to me, more than once, around when my eldest was 2) was “if he starts getting signs of puberty, he’s DEFINITELY cut off.”

      They stopped asking after that. ;)

  6. Gina says:

    This is wonderful, made me tear. I have a 15 month old nursing son, and he will wean when he is ready, I could never take it away from him.

  7. Larissa says:

    My son is almost 3, and loves to nurse still very much. This answers my question to go ahead and keep going as long as he needs. thank you.

  8. Krystal says:

    Beautifully written. <3 Thank you.

  9. LeeAnn says:

    Thank you for these beautiful, affirming words! I lie here next to my 13 month old son whom I have been angsting over weaning out of our bed when every instinct tells me to keep him close. This was lovely reassurance that our time here is short aand should be treasured, not rushed away. Thank you thank you!!

  10. nicole says:

    LOVE this! Thank you!

  11. Momma that enjoys nursing! says:

    Thank. You! I have a 28 month old daughter still going strong! I have no desire to stop until she’s ready! I get comments from my mil the most. She actually told my daughter to stop on their last visit! It’s no ones place to say but my daughter and I! We will stop when she is ready. Again, THANK YOU!

  12. Leslie says:

    You put into words, what I feel. Thank you for sharing! Nursing is so special and wonderful, I’m starting to wonder when it will stop. But know like you do; there is no set timeline.

  13. Jen says:

    So beautiful! As I nursed my 15 month old this morning he wanted to wear his daddy’s hat. I looked at him and laughed saying he looked like a 17 year old. Daddy laughed that he might still be nursing at 17. Of course he won’t. He ebbs and flows now as it is. Molars are coming in and he has been nursing more, but just a couple of weeks ago there were days he could take it or leave it. He will decide when he’s done, and I realize I will miss our 4am time together, him kicking me in the stomach and rubbing my arm, throwing his head back in sleep when he pops off.

  14. Erin says:

    Beautiful. I nursed 5 of my children, the last one weaned at about 15 months old. As they are getting older and changing so much, there are times I miss nursing, especially the intimate, relaxed time we spent together. I mourn that I won’t have that kind of experience with my new daughter who is coming to us as a toddler through adoption. We will have to create our own “nursing-like” bond.

  15. Lindsay says:

    Beautiful.

  16. Jessica says:

    thank you.

  17. Sarah says:

    Absolutely loved this! My 20 month old daughter only nurses at nighttime now, so no comments here, but even if there was, she and I know what works and when she is ready for the next stage, she will wean herself. No hurrying from me!

  18. This made me cry. Thank you for sharing.

  19. Laura says:

    My son is almost four and still nurses to go to sleep and when he gets up. In some ways I am hopeful he will stop soon and in other ways I wish he could be little for ever. In the end I just respond to him and his needs and I am thankful to do so. Thank you for the perfect read.

  20. Debbie says:

    I have nine children. The oldest almost 28 with two children of her own. My youngest is 9. It all happened as you said. You write beautifully.

  21. Confusion says:

    Ok, I understand holding off till 1 and a half MAYBE 2. But you crazy ones saying 3&4 wtf is wrong with you. Your children are going to be going to preschool soon. Seriously, you are what’s wrong with most crap when it comes to this nations children. Yes there is a thing called over nourishment and you are doing it. Just like soothers and blankies. My children let go of both of these at a young age. Your children are going to grow up needing to be nourished through each step in their life. And let’s not forget about the mental damage that you are doing to you children when they get old enough to understand that you are breast feeding them at such a old age. Past the age of two breast milk is not needed for children. My child right now is 17 months old, breast fed till he was one year old. He is talking, walking, feeding himself in all ways (ie with a spoon) is already learning to read. So please don’t tell me the longer you hold out the smarter they will be.

    If no one speaks the truth 90% of you will just go on like nothing matters.

    • sarah says:

      @Confusion, please provide a single study that backs up what you say and that there is a certain point where breast milk is somehow harmful for children. Because unless you can provide studies to back up what you are saying, I wouldn’t quite go so far as to call it “the truth”. Especially considering that it goes against the AAP and WHO’s position on breastfeeding.

      Speakers of the truth can provide studies or official viewpoints to back up their “truth”. That is my challenge to you. You’ve said it, now back it up.

      • J says:

        I don’t think that when she said “harmful”, that she meant harmful as in toxic. I think she meant more phsychological harm in a child remembering breast feeding as they grow up and the issues that can stem from that.

        • sarah says:

          Whether she meant harmful to the body or harmful to the mind, her beliefs have no basis in fact or in study. When someone accuses another parent of doing something blatantly wrong and harming their child for life and proclaims “I SPEAK THE TRUTH OTHERWISE NO ONE WILL!”, they have an obligation to be able to back it up with studies or other factual information.

          Plenty of studies show that popular parenting practices have ramifications. Crying it out, spanking, and even the practice of using rewards systems. NO study that I have ever been able to find shows any harm- physical or mental- to full term breastfeeding. Yet the terms that people so happily apply to full term breastfeeding would be considered quite rude if they were applied to people that use CIO or that spank.

    • Lindsay says:

      @Confusion:
      You are entitled to your opinion. However, 99% of us who comment on these beautifully written words about breastfeeding and bonding agree that there is no specific age for weaning or breastfeeding to be ‘wrong’. Please be informed of the facts before you make comments on such topics. Breastmilk is one of the purest, healthiest foods you could ever put into your child’s belly.

    • M says:

      There are actually studies out there that show if all mother’s nursed their children for at least a year trillions of dollars would be saved in health care in the United States. The reason being that nursing babies reduces risks of obesisty, diabetes, heart disease, some cancers…. yadda yadda yadda. If more mothers felt like they wouldn’t be judge no matter how long they nursed, maybe they would be more likely to do it. Society has some very negative thoughts on nursing, when they should be thanking mothers who do it!! This passage was beautiful. Thank you for sharing!!!

    • Marie says:

      Confused, you are just plain wrong. Nursing is supposed to be extended – as a culture we just don’t do it as long as we should. Speaking out against extended nursing is not helpful. Nursing for any lenghth of time is better than not at all but do not denigrate women who are doing what nature intended.

  22. Karie says:

    I’m so thankful I came across this. I am a first time mom and I have come to the weaning stage with my 11 month old. I have gotten the questions from very early on how long I will nurse. I wish I could keep her little so we could have this time a little longer. Nursing is truly the most amazing (and difficult at times) thing I have done.

  23. lo says:

    @confusion, You sound like a loving parent and proud of your kids.

    I find your comment confusing. And painful – this is what’s wrong with kids today? huh?

    This is what I hope for you: that you find a place in your heart to be less judgemental.

    Will you have a future daughter in law? Will you judge her choices? I hope you have some time to find your joy between now and then – a joy that comes from other than judging strangers anonymously.

  24. lex says:

    lo, you are very well-spoken, respectful and compassionate towards Confusion. Wonderfully put. I agree; I’m sure Confusion is a loving parent. Also, an incredibly ignorant one. Hopefully Confusion will inform herself more before making further ridiculous comments. :/
    This post was perfect. Thank you <3

  25. CS says:

    @ confusion: What’s wrong with this nations children is that we don’t strive to live naturally anymore. Everything is fast, processed, and unnatural. Tell me why we are ridden with disease, is it breastmilk past 1? the WHO must be very wrong then. Those paleolithic humans must have been super unhealthy and mentally damaged because of how long they were feeding from their mother’s breast. It is only attitudes like yours that lead to mental damage… IMO. But Im sure your children are superior to self weaned little ones.

  26. Natalie says:

    I love this!! Thank you. Currently nursing a 21 month old.

  27. Natalie says:

    @Confusion- Here is some truth for you!

    I have five children and I nursed all of them until they were 2 or 3. With the exception of my youngest who is only 4 months old, but I suspect I will be nursing her for the same period of time. My pediatrician’s (I have 5 of them in the group, and see them all equally), NONE and I repeat NONE of them have ever told me that there is an age limit to nursing or spoke of “OVER NOURISHMENT”. They encourage me to nurse as long as possible. In fact, I was told by one of these same doctors that a mother’s breast milk changes with the child as it ages to be able to provide it with the proper nutrients and nourishment.

    None of my children have ever gone to preschool, but what I can tell you is when they start their first day of Kindergarten they are ready to go…diaper free, bottle free, binky free, and breast free. You might want to think of your son, and worry about what he is going to think of you for taking his “infant-hood” away by forcing him to do UNNATURAL things like read at 17 months old. By-the-way, my sister is a DR. and she told me that it has been proven that children who read that young, do not any better than children who read at a normal age. Because, when they are that young they are not comprehending the words they are reading…they are just reading as robots…memorization…which can actually be educationally stunting. So, if I were you instead of calling NORMAL breastfeeding mothers names and accusing us of mentally damaging our children, maybe you should be worried about the damage you may be doing to your child. As far as mental damage goes…the 3 children of mine that are in school… excel. My eldest daughter who is in middle school, is high honors, which is similar to the “Deans List”. Her average is 99.3. Her principal even called me and wanted to put her in National Honor Society early. Oh, and that was accomplished with out me making her read at 17 months old, with her watching Spongebob cartoons, eating junk food, playing with useless toys and video games, and running around and getting dirty. I am sure all things you are also against. To each his own..live and let live. Who are you to say whatever works for somebody else is wrong? I think you are what is wrong with Society!

    • NoJudge says:

      I was lucky enough to get a pep talk from my cousin, when my oldest son was a baby. She was Head Cardiologist at a children’s hospital in Canada at the time. I told her I didn’t want to wean my then 6 month old, but was getting pressure from family. She told me she was TANDEM nursing; her 6 month old and her 4 year old! Not only that- but she also brought them to work with her! This knowledge empowered me, and gave me the strength to listen to my instincts and to do what was best for me and my kids. This is all you have to do. Listen to what your heart tells you and it will happen when the time is right.

      Mine were 3, 2 & 4. This is for @confusion:
      They are now 10, 13 & 16. They are all well rounded, A+ students with lots of friends and excel at sports. One is boarding at a top ballet school. All super strong. Mentally and physically. But the best part? They ALL talk to me. I KNOW my kids. MOMS, don’t underestimate those mommy-feel-good hormones running through your veins;they make good moms!

  28. Natalie says:

    Two different Natalie’s by the way! LOL!

  29. Natalie says:

    Yeah! We are different but I totally agree with that Natalie! :)

  30. Trish says:

    I have three kids. The first one mostly weaned herself by 13 months, and with my decision to ‘close the milk bar’, a few weeks later she was fully weaned. No regrets.

    I was traveling a lot with my second child, and he and I weaned at 9 months. Happily. And he was a real biter, so no regrets either.

    My third one didn’t wean himself at all. I was so drained by 18 months, and I decided to wean. He wasn’t totally on board with it, but wasn’t too upset about it and got on with life very fast. No regrets.

    Sure, it’s your right to keep on nursing for as long as you believe it’s in your child’s best interests. But it’s the mother’s body, too, and we shouldn’t feel guilty for following our own intuition, not just our baby’s instincts.

    By the way, I co-slept with my kids till two-three years old, and am very much attached to my kids.

    Nursing alone is just one way to nurture a baby. And ultimately it’s the mother’s right to choose if/when she will wean, without any guilt trips.

    • sarah says:

      My position on mother-led weaning is that it is mom’s body and only mom knows why she makes the choices that she makes. No one should have to justify why they chose to wean at one year, one month, one week, one day, one hour, or why they never chose to breastfeed in the first place.

      Simultaneously, it’s mom’s choice to allow her child to make the choice. This latter choice gets far more guilt trips and judgement than does the decision to wean early.

      Neither should get any guilt trips.

    • Natalie(the other one)-lol says:

      Trisha, I couldn’t agree with you more. I co-slept with all of mine including the new one. And I love every minute of it. That is something a lot of people will tell you not to do too. And, once again to each his own, but, personally I feel like to not do it would be missing out on a very special experience too.

  31. mookiemama says:

    this was written so beautifully. my daughter is eight months old and this describes our relationship truly. with her older brother i fretted and second guessed myself and made myself feel crazy because i couldn’t make him more self soothing. i spent countless hours trying to teach him to need me less when in fact he did so on his own time. this time around i am not fighting it, just enjoying it. it all happens so fast, i know that now.

    • Danieye says:

      @Mookiemama— I can totally relate! The second time around for me too and I’m not fighting it either :) will just go with the flow and enjoy my 3 month old baby girl!

  32. Stephanie says:

    I was only able to have one child and he came into this world a wee 3 pound preemie and had to stay in the hospital for his first month. At first he was too tiny to nurse and I had to pump. When we were finally able to start, it was the most beautiful time of my life. It helped me bond with my son as he had been fed via bottles by the nurses in the hospital. I nursed him until he was almost 3 years old and for the last 6 months, it was only at bedtime. I always heard the comments “are you STILL nursing him??” and chose to ignore the ignorance of others and go with what worked for my son and I. If I had caved to the pressure to wean, I would have missed out on one of life’s most beautiful experiences with my son. When he was ready to wean, it was a non-event. He is now a happy, extremely healthy, energetic, independent 6 year old in Kindergarten. I agree that 3 or 4 is too old to nurse in public, but in the privacy of your own home? That’s no one’s business but our own. It is the norm for other countries to nurse their children until 3 years old, but in North America where people are brainwashed to believe that formula is just as good as breast milk and that we Moms should be weaning our babies at 6 months to a year so we can go back to work is shameful. That mentality is only in North America! I went back to work after a year of maternity leave, but I STILL breastfed my son and we are both the better for it. No one can take that special time away from us and the incredible bond it created. He is a loving, affectionate little boy and loves to cuddle with his Mommy in our “nursing” chair. What could be better than that?? For all of you that are receiving the know it all comments… ignore them and go with what’s best for you and your child! Keep it to yourself if you need to, but please don’t stop nursing to satisfy others ignorance.

  33. Amazing. I have never seen this act captured in this way. Throughout I found myself sinking deeper and deeper into your beautiful words, and their accuracy.

    Well done, Nurshable. In fact, I’ve never seen it done better.

    Thank you.

  34. Stephanie says:

    BTW… my son doesn’t remember breastfeeding or that we used to do that in our cuddle chair. He never talked about it out loud once before he weaned and definitely not after. So “Confusion”… I think you’re confused. There is no mental damage and my child doesn’t resent me for breastfeeding him until 3. He is healthy, incredibly smart, and has a fantastic immune system. Plus, he and I have a close bond. All good, right? Just saying…

  35. jessica says:

    I don’t agree with nursing until 3 or 4 at all. It is my opinion. If anyone else chooses to do so, then so be it, its your choice. Everyone should respect someone else’s opinion. It doesn’t have to match yours. Good luck to all you breast feeding moms.

  36. Jane says:

    Remember, NORMAL worldwide averages for weaning are 4 to 6 years old! I have technically nursed my child to 4 years old. I say technically b/c he only nurses for a minute or two, at night or if he gets hurt. Sometimes he doesn’t nurse at all.

    It is child-led. If he asks in a situation and I don’t want to, I tell him no not right now and he is fine (he knows tantruming will not get his way and that he needs to respect my body’s boundaries. If he is genuinely upset and/or in need of comfort I can tell and do nurse at those times.)

    It is lightyears of difference from how he nursed when he was an infant or even a 1 year old. He is more confident than most children his age and very bright and happy.

    Follow your child’s schedule and your own instincts and work it out between the two of you. There are ebbs and flows but progress and change and independence do come along. :)

  37. Elzan says:

    Love the way you pouring it into a beautiful words..I’m still breast feeding my first 18 month’s lil’boy, and nursing is the best way that “WE” can serve for our next generation
    All I know…Nursing is fun..full of joy..passion..affection..unforgettable
    And the rest of it..let it be natural

  38. Kate says:

    Beautiful. Thanks for expressing so beautifully what many of us feel. <3

  39. alicia says:

    Beautifully written and so true!

  40. Melanie says:

    My daughter turned 2, two days ago. We generally only nurse at night now, but with all of the excitement, so seems to be feeling a little under the weather and has been wanting to nurse 3 times a day. I’ve been letting her. In general, I have chosen to refuse her in the mornings and afternoons for my own reasons. I approach it as a mutual decision. If one of us particularly needs it or doesn’t want it, I respect it. As to stopping overall, it no longer breaks my heart to think about it, so I will just watch for signs and we’ll see how it goes. I don’t know what those signs are exactly, but I figure ‘ll know it when I see it. And I imagine we might have some back and forth on it – no nursing and then reverting sometimes. But who knows. It makes me a little sad to think of stopping, but I have found that with every step of her development, when the real time to do something arrives, we are both ready for it, no matter how much I have been dreading it and crying over it. We both just know when we are ready to make the next step as a team. :-) I get a lot of comments and this is my first baby, but I am also 40 years old and could care less what other people think. It just mildly irritates me. :-) People have been asking how long I planned to bf since she was born! I always just say, “until we’re done.”

  41. Love this! I followed baby-led weaning with a tiny push and weaned my girl at just over the year mark, because it’s what worked best for us. But you can bet I heard all the questions as the year approached, as if she’d turn 1 and just stop! It’s crazy to me how people are so obsessed with a weaning date. Nursing into toddlerhood wasn’t for me, but who am I to judge and worry about for that matter what another mom chooses? I wish people would mind their own business. Why do they care so much? There are many other important things to obsess over!

  42. Charlotte says:

    I tried to nurse but my daughter just fell asleep and never took which did upset me but we have a lovely relationship and now at 2.5 she is eating proper food with the family snd she doesn’t seemed to have suffered from not nursing.

  43. OlliesMum says:

    Pure love…Thank you so much for writing such a beautiful reminder to us all. Happily enjoying my extended breastfeeding with my beautiful 17 month old son and in absolutely no rush to have him wean. Baby-led weaning is such a compassionate gift we can give to our children. Thank you again!

  44. Loved and shared it on my fb and twitter

  45. Brandi Michel says:

    I just wanted to post this as a reference:
    ■The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that “Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child… Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother… There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.” (AAP 2005)

  46. SNH says:

    I tried with my first child to nurse until a lactation consultant told me, “You need to supplement”. Your story stands for all mothers. Thank you. It is beautiful.

  47. Jenn says:

    I really enjoyed this post – thank you so much for sharing this with us. I think that you should change the title though to “I will nurse you forever” because as a mother, do you ever really stop “nursing” your child? This really hits home for me – as a working mom who has EBF her child for almost a whole year at this point, I’ve been struggling over the past few weeks with the idea of weaning because I hate being attached to the pump, but at the same time, I don’t want to cut her off before she’s ready.

  48. Natalie says:

    LOVE this, thank you so much, shared it on Facebook!

  49. Suzanne says:

    Beautifully written and so very true! I happy nursed two happy healthy boys into their second year and love to see all these loving mothers giving their children the best nutrient they will ever receive.

  50. Michelle says:

    Beautifully written, and I applaud the mothers that are able to nurse into toddlerhood. My son just recently weaned himself about 2 weeks ago at around 10 months old. I had been a very low supplier and given him what I could whenever I could, and I was sad to see it end. My MIL was constantly asking when I would stop nursing him, and at first it would bother me, but I finally got over it and finally one day told her to stop asking, I will nurse him as long as he needs me. I think nursing is highly misunderstood in North America as we are so work oriented. It is nice to hear so many success stories. Thanks for writing this!

  51. ashley says:

    lovely post. the pressure to wean is alive and flowing and it is great to see you posting about how unnecessary the whole thing is. what is the rush anyways.

  52. k says:

    i am also getting the “when are you going to stop” from the MIL and from my mom. for two different reasons i think – who can guess why from the MIL… but from my mom i think she’s actually just thinking of me, she nursed me and she knows it takes time, and commitment and i think she just wants to be sure that i’m not losing myself. it’s hard because some days i’m like “i’m done” i’m tired and you are kind of biting me cause you too are tired and no my other boob is not a dial made to occupy your other hand while you nurse…i said i would nurse until you were 14 months and now you are 15 months… but then i look down at her little face and feel the weight of her head on my arm and think ok we’ll keep going for another day. someday we’ll stop but not today.

  53. Isha says:

    This was absolutely beautiful. Soul stirring. I have tears in my eyes. Thank you for writing this.

  54. Julinda says:

    Add me to the list of moms who got a little teary reading this! My boys are 6 and 12 now, breastfeeding is a thing of our past (although I know some 6-year-olds are still nursing and there’s nothing wrong with that), and I will always treasure those moments with the boys. The older one was so adamant uf his baby brother cried – “NURSE him, Mom!” He knew. He remembers and some day I expect him to be saying, “NURSE him, honey” to his future wife! Both my boys, by the way, are well-adjusted and doing great academically!

  55. Erin says:

    So very beautifully said. Thank you!

  56. Beth says:

    Beautiful. I want to go scoop up the baby and nurse her, but we all know the rule about sleeping babies…

    I breastfed my two older kids a few months past a year, but I have this habit of getting pregnant again around that time and I just can’t manage nursing and being pregnant at the same time. It was still a gradual process for both of them.

    I can’t fathom believing that a child being able to walk into their mother’s open arms for any reason-at any age-could be considered damaging.

  57. Cornelia Slotiuk says:

    Wow, so many feelings….
    I have to believe that ALL mothers want what is best for their babies and kids.
    I also have to believe that EVERY mother has to look at her own life and situation to make big decisions affecting herself and her family.
    And I have to accept that our NA culture does not support new parents well enough.
    I was very lucky to afford to be a stay-at-home mom who nursed her 3 boys well into their second year but I know not all moms can afford that…
    So go on and follow your heart and your head and love your child. Whether you nurse or bottle feed formula or pump or whatever, LOVE YOUR CHILD! Bottom line!

    And by the way…the first bite of solid food at 6 months IS the start of weaning…

  58. Another time and place says:

    I just came from bed where my 2 year old and 4 year old is sleeping, after I got up my husband took a picture of them holding hands in their sleep after I got up from between them. I really do miss my breastfeeding days, My firstborn stopped by herself and my secondborn really started to hurt me and I made the decision to wean her and have been feeling a bit guilty about it. This post has been very valuable to me in that regard and also made me feel better about the co-sleeping =). So thank you very much.

  59. tara says:

    Love, love, love this. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you.

  60. kai n jay mom says:

    awww this is beautiful (tears)i am so not looking foward 2 the day that they dont need me i bf my son for 2 months and ive been bf my daughter for4 1/2 months .

  61. Elizabeth says:

    I nursed my oldest until he was 20 months and he weaned himself. My youngest nursed steadily until he was 27 months and we weaned together so that I could start medication. I regret it so much…he won’t be small forever and I so miss that time with him…

  62. LynZ says:

    I was unable to have children ONLY due to circumstances around my decision to marry an older man who had 2 of his own, and the fact that the timing was never right. But reading this helps me to understand why – from the time I was about 25 until my current age of 44… I’ve had and still occasionaly have dreams of having (my “dream” baby) nurse me. It always causes me to wake up feeling so emotional and both sad (for not having had children) and happy – for having had the experience from the dream. I’ve always wondered why I have “nursing” dreams. This letter AND ALL OF YOUR RESPONSES sort of helps explain it. Thank you!

  63. Debbi says:

    Thank you “<3 Mama" for your beautiful comments. I have two sons, 28 years old and 33 years old; both breastfed to 13 months and 9 months respectively. I will soon be 60 years old and very pleased I had that time, experience and pleasure of nursing and bonding with both of them. Both weaned on their own. Your comments "<3Mama" say it all…let's remember this is Mother's Day week…"we all did the best we could with the information and support we received at the time!" Happy Mothers Day and week to all of you mothers including mine who breastfed me, too! :-)

    • sarah says:

      Indeed, Debbi. :) I’m impressed by your nursing journey. 33 years and 28 years ago it was not an easy time to nurse. I’m 32 and my mom talks about how little support she had.

      • Debbi says:

        Yes, we had little support then. Thank God for the La Leche League. They were my saving grace. But, with that aside I am a registered nurse with a BSN and just recently finished a Lactation Consultant course in San Diego and plan to take the IBLCE Board July 2012 in Orlando. It will be OK! God has a plan for all of us! :-)

  64. Rae says:

    I was unable to nurse my firstborn, despite trying for several weeks. Maybe it was because I was young…but I never even had colostrum. I nursed my second for only 6weeks because he had such difficulty digesting my milk, too high in sugar for his liver we were told. This was weird because I don’t have a high sugar diet…but whatever. I did not have any social issues around nursing or not nursing with either child…meaning nobody told me I should be nursing rather than bottle feeding – or alternatively I have never been asked how long I planned to nurse. I bottle fed both my boys until they were ready to give it up…we had cuddle time just as if I were nursing and just as often. They both moved towards and away from me as they were preparing themselves to give up being rocked to sleep. My youngest threw out his own binky when he was ready, and my oldest never wanted one in the first place – nor did either suck their thumbs. I like to think that the nurturing I gave my sons is what provided the encouragement to do as well in their lives as they have. Both are intelligent and very sport oriented…confident, outgoing and kind young men. I don’t believe that they suffered in any way as a result of not being nursed for at least a year. Neither have allergies or other health issues, nor are they smaller than their counterparts who were nursed.
    This is a beautifully written work, and I believe it is intended to address the nurturing a mother does with her child just as much as the nursing.

  65. Wendy says:

    There is nothing I can say that hasn’t been said–such a beautiful post. I too struggled with breastfeeding initially and was sure I wouldn’t make it to six weeks, then three months, then six months, a year . . . Here I am at 14 months + and my daughter and I are still breastfeeding. Unfortunately, I am surrounded by people who look down on extended breastfeeding and so feel as if I’ve been relegated to the closet to avoid the looks and comments of disapproval. As it is, I only breastfeed my daughter in the evenings, mornings and on the weekends (since I work outside of the home). I got a lot of pressure at the year mark to stop. I was even told it was solely for me and I was being selfish–which I absolutely don’t agree with.

    Fortunately, I didn’t listen to those people. My husband, who wasn’t sure at first, only had to look at my daughter and see us together to realize this is right for us. My mom encourages me as well. I am so grateful to them.

    Everything you say is true. I love what that nurse told you. I am going to print your post and keep it handy when I start doubting myself. I don’t know how long I will continue breastfeeding, but I do know that I feel more sure that it is what is best for my daughter–for my family.

    I really like the idea of self-weaning and want her to go at her pace. It feels right, you know?

    It’s such a personal decision and we all have to decide what works best for us. I hate the judgements and negativity being spewed when someone doesn’t agree with someone else’s choice. We are all mothers who love our children and want what is best for them. That should be enough.

  66. OneMomma says:

    Beautiful work. Thank you. I’m going to put this in with the writings I have made for my daughter, with credit to you of course.

  67. [...] An article about breastfeeding that brought tears to my eyes. —Nurshable [...]

  68. Amanda W says:

    Thank you for this lovely post. My sons self-weaned, my older son at age 2 and my younger son was four years and a few months. I thought my son who nursed until age 4 would remember since he told me my milk tasted like “M & M ice cream” but he doesn’t remember nursing.
    Every mom needs to listen to their heart and do what’s right for them and their baby.

    • sarah says:

      I nursed to 4.5, and my brother nursed to 2.5. I don’t remember it. My brother remembers being weaned. I self weaned, so breastfeeding was just normal. There was no trauma. No more reason to remember it than to remember every meal I ever ate as a child.

  69. [...] as he has been lately on a mix of milk and other foods and after nursing him to sleep I read this article and cried full tears that surprised me with their intensity and resonance. [...]

  70. Emma Burridge says:

    Thank you for writing such a beautiful letter to your daughter. I first read it a couple of months ago, and just re-read it, and I’m crying like a baby just like the first time I read it!! I am 21 weeks pregnant and still BF my 16.5 month old daughter. Woudn’t change the BF experience for the world. Will continue to share this on FB. And print it off for my little girl so that one day she will know exactly what I would have written to her, if only I could have put it as eloquently as you! Thank you, health & happiness to you all and all your babies, xx

  71. What a beautiful post, it expresses perfectly how I feel towards my children. I just found your site and am really looking forward to reading more.

    My 6yo self-weaned around 5yo, my 2nd is still tandem nursing at 4yo with my youngest who is 18mo. They are happy and healthy without any signs of mental damage so far! One of the best things about self-led weaning for my eldest was the joy she had in the decision process. I also feel tandem nursing helped a lot in creating a close bond between the kids. That’s just my experience though, every mother and family is different.

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