This past November marked a year since my older daughter, Penny, weaned on her own. She was about 20 months old and I was halfway through my second pregnancy with her little sister, Ruby. Choosing to nurse through pregnancy was not a decision that was lightly made; but it was a pure conviction that this was right for my girl and I.
When I became pregnant with my second child in June of 2013, I realized I had a big decision to make. My daughter, Penny, was 16 months old, and I was no where close to being ready or willing to wean her. Was it possible, or even recommended, for me to continue nursing through my pregnancy?
My gut reaction was that yes; I can and should. My daughter still nursed 4-5 times a day and although she was nearing night weaning, I wasn't ever planning to make us quit cold-turkey. Even knowing in my heart that I wanted to continue to nurse, I knew I'd have a tough road ahead of me.
At the end of my first trimester I blogged about why continuing to breastfeed in the early part of my pregnancy was my saving grace. No, it wasn't always comfortable. Pregnancy hormones were coursing through my body, I was sore and nauseated. But for my toddler none of that made a difference. She had no idea why mama was so tired all the time. Some moms might think that breastfeeding during pregnancy is inconvenient, another worry on their plate on what to do when the new baby comes, but for me it was a break. It was a break throughout the day, several times, to just rest and relax with my daughter...because Lord knows there was little else to stop her!
In my second trimester the discomfort truly began to peak but I still pushed on. I purchased Adventures in Tandem Nursing to read up on what to expect and how to help cope. As my belly ballooned we started side nursing more often and she began to naturally cut back on frequency and duration. I began to suspect that I was drying up at around the 17-18 week mark, and there were many times where nursing was just plain painful. I put up a few boundaries to help keep the nursing relationship a beneficial and enjoyable one for the both of us and that worked for the following month.
At 23 weeks we took our planned babymoon. Because nursing had steadily decreased to only 1-2 times during the day and once at night time, I prepared myself that the night before we left may very well be the last time I nurse Penny. It's fairly common for that age to wean over night, especially because I had never spent a night away from her until that night. So I snuggled my Penny close, quietly reflected on the past 20 months that we shared this special bond, and let it go. My husband and I left her in the capable hands of her grandparents and took a refreshing break to prepare for our second child (that was due the day before Penny's 2nd birthday...but she had other plans!). When we returned, Penny wasn't terribly interested and I never offered again. Weaning her was an emotional time for me, it meant that after a 9 month pregnancy and 20 months of nursing, she no longer physically needed me for nourishment. But the excitement of the next baby coming eased my heart a little, and I wondered if she would regain interested once she saw her little sister nursing.
Ruby was born a week after her sister's 2nd birthday, and my oh my how my life has changed! Having 2 children just a hair over 2 years apart has not been easy, but also has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. As Ruby grows and gains more mobility, Penny has begun to interact with her more and I catch some of the sweetest moments that they share together. Though Penny never asked to nurse again, she understands the importance of it. Sometimes when Ruby is crying, she exasperatingly says "Mama, give Ruby MILK!"
This was originally published as a gust post on Mama Pure.