To wean or not to wean

Anyone who has ever breastfed a child knows how challenging it can be. Anyone who has ever breastfed more than one child at a time understands how downright grueling the process is. I will be the first to say that whether you breastfed for a day, a week, a month, or a year… you deserve a medal for the sacrifices and hard work you put in to nurture your child!

I knew before they were born that I would breastfeed Ben and Alex. I also knew how hard it was going to be, thanks to all of the trials and tribulations that came along with breastfeeding Connor for 16 months. Long story short, I quit breastfeeding with Connor when he was about 3 weeks old, then I re-lactated and began breastfeeding again when he was 3 months old. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but completely worthwhile. I am proud of myself for all of the hard work and sacrifices I made to make sure Connor got my breastmilk for as long as possible. And I knew I couldn’t live with myself if I did any less for the twins.

In the beginning with Ben and Alex, it was all about survival. It would take me an hour to feed them both and an hour later we would start all over again. I was exhausted and in pain, but I was determined. So I set small goals for myself: take it day to day at first, then week by week, then one month and then the next… We fought bad latches, recurring thrush infections, colic, dairy intolerances, excess lipase. But we never gave up because in my mind, giving up was not an option. In the beginning we did supplement with a little formula, maybe an ounce a day per child. It was more for my own peace of mind than anything else. But by the time they were 8 weeks old, I threw the rest of the formula out and never looked back. The boys kept growing and gaining weight, and before I knew it, breastfeeding had become easy, even enjoyable for us all. We had made it through the hardest part!

My ultimate goal was always to breastfeed the twins until their 2nd birthday (as recommended by the WHO and AAP), unless they chose to wean themselves earlier than that. Well here we are, with just two more months to go, and the breastfeeding is still going strong. And I am at a loss as to what I should do. If these are my last babies, there is a part of me that argues I shouldn’t rush it; I should let them keep going until they are ready to wean (within reason of course, I don’t plan on showing up at Kindergarten to offer a “snack”).

But the other part of me is tired of breastfeeding… very, very tired. I was still breastfeeding Connor when I got pregnant, so my body has not been my own for about 4.5 years now. I want to be able to diet and exercise and get back in shape, I want to wear normal clothing again, I want to be able to take cold medicine when I’m sick, I want to be able to walk downstairs in the morning and enjoy a few sips of coffee without being hounded for “booboo time” (that’s what they call it).

But am I just being selfish here? All of those things I want to do, they don’t really matter that much in the big picture. What matters most is meeting my children’s needs, and if they still need the comfort of breastfeeding, am I wrong to deny them? I know, I know, I will blink my eyes and my babies won’t be small anymore. Will I have regrets if I bring this phase of our lives to an end too quickly?

I honestly don’t know what I should do at this point. This morning, I held Alexander off from nursing for about an hour, and it was a miserable hour of him crying, begging, pleading with me. I can’t do that to my boys. Not now at least…. maybe when they are a little older, and no longer teething… maybe then I can be the tough guy.

If anyone has any advice for this process, I am all ears. I had to force Connor to wean when I found out I was pregnant with the twins, and it was horrible. He literally gave me the cold shoulder for a week, he would have nothing to do with me. It broke my already overly-hormonal, pregnant heart. I can’t do that again…

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