I knew it was going to happen eventually. My baby has turned into a toddler. It is awesome to see her walking around and exploring; her curiosity growing as she learns more and more. I can see the little wheels turning in her head and she figures something out for the first time. It is incredible what just one little year can do.
Something I never expected to feel during this time is sadness. As exciting as it is to watch her develop and grow and learn, this small part of me yearns for her to remain my little baby forever.
Which is why when I realized that I will have to wean her in order to start trying for baby Numero Dos, my heart sank a little. I guess I’ve always said I will breastfeed until she is “at least a year old.” Now she is a year old and it seems like everyone around me is asking the question: “When are you going to wean her?” She has been a year old for less than a month and I am already feeling the pressure to have my little baby plow full steam ahead into toddlerhood, leaving me (and my breasts) behind.
I mean that literally. Now that she is walking, she rarely sits still. She constantly is toddling around, chasing the cat, opening cabinets, pulling things off bookshelves, playing with toys, crawling under chairs and a million other things that are new to her each day. This is one of the reasons why nursing her is wonderful for me; for those fifteen minutes or so, twice a day, she sits still in my arms and is my cuddly little baby again. And this makes me happy. Not to mention the growing research showing that breastfeeding a baby into his or her second (or even third) year has long-term health, social, emotional and cognitive benefits.
So why not just continue to nurse, you ask? It’s complicated. I need my “system” to become regular again in order to try for a sibling, and apparently this isn’t happening for me while nursing (which is quite common, I’ve learned). So right now I feel like I am being forced to choose between having my current baby remain a “baby” and starting the “process” of creating a new baby. While there are plenty of fertility drugs out there that help “reset” the system or even bypass it and go straight to baby making magic, I’m not sure I trust that they are safe to ingest while breastfeeding. While my fertility doctor assures me that drugs like Clomid are harmless to take while nursing, apparently there actually haven’t been any studies done to back this up, (or to contradict it, to be fair).
If I take a step back and ponder the advice I would give a friend, I would say that continuing to nurse isn’t going to keep your little one from growing up. Time doesn’t stand still and there is nothing we can do about it. There are lots of other ways to “cuddle” your baby and your baby will always need you, as her mommy, long after she weans from the breast.
But for me, this advice is easier in theory than in practice. However, my desire for my daughter to have a sibling close in age is strong and if the past is any indication of how long it will take me to become pregnant again, I am already off to a late start. So, my daughter and I are about to begin a journey into the next stage of our relationship. I hope the old saying is true – that it is harder on the mom than it is on the baby…uh, I mean toddler!