Monday, February 17, 2014

Bye Bye, Milks.

I finally decided that I am done with the journey of breastfeeding my son. He has reached an age when he is simply using me as a comfort for when he hurts himself playing, or is over tired and wants some snuggle. I am just a pacifier. I am not resentful or frustrated, and I feel good about my choice. Leif is almost 2 1/2 yr old. I am proud of myself for the stamina it takes to keep going as long as I did.

"Extended" breastfeeding isn't easy. I will admit I wanted to give up several times. When Leif hit 9 months, he went through a bit where he slacked off a lot, and I almost let him. When he got teeth, it was excruciating for months as his teeth grew. There were times his sharp little finger nails on my skin felt horrible. I kept going because I knew that what I was doing was right for us. Leif is very healthy. He doesn't get colds. He doesn't get ear infections. His skin is flawless. He has never had a stomach ache. These benefits made being a mom an easier job. I considered it a fair trade, his amazing health for having to sacrifice some personal freedom while breastfeeding.

The benefits aren't just for him, too. I have managed to keep from getting pregnant again simply by breastfeeding. I wanted at least 2 years before trying again. I have significantly reduced my risk of breast, uterine, ovarian and endometrial cancer, as well as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

The benefits to Leif are incredible, too. On top of providing him with needed vitamins and minerals, he gets a super load of antibodies. Children who breastfeed past 2 have a lower risk of illness, as well as shorter duration of colds and lower mortality rates. Children who are breastfed longer show to have higher IQ scores, as well as be better socially adjusted and better overall mental health. According to some medical professionals, breastfed babies and toddlers are easier to discipline and have better ways of coping. The list goes on and on.

Yesterday was our first day. I expected it to be a lot harder, but it really wasn't. I have taken to telling him I have no more milk, and giving him options as an alternative. Most of the time it is an emotional need, so we give hugs, snuggles or quiet time. He is a very smart little guy, and understands when something is "all gone", and so he understands my explanation. He hasn't been tugging on me, but has accepted a cup of honey milk, or taken a long hug and some singing as acceptable alternatives.

What I was the most worried about was bed time. He would always ask for milk at bedtime, and I always obliged. Last night we did a longer rough house and book reading time, and then just went to bed. He wanted water, but then he just went to sleep! I was shocked. It was amazing. I think that if he was putting up a big fight, I would reconsider weaning at this point, but the fact that he seems completely fine makes me think I picked the perfect time.

Day Two is today, and I have my fingers crossed that by the end of the week, we can be completely past the urges! I am optimistic, thanks to my very happy little man. I got lucky!

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