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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The journey of "Ta" and breastfeeding a toddler

Its time to write the post about “Ta” and how I find myself still breastfeeding our 28 month old son.

It’s so interesting really, to look back at the perspectives I held before motherhood. I mean, when I was a little girl I went against the norm of my family and pretended to breastfeed my dolls on occasion, but by my teens I was pretty convinced my babies would be bottlefed. Upon the birth of our first daughter I’d changed my mind and knew I wanted to breastfeed her, however lack of knowledge and support found me giving up too soon. Our second daughter was my breastfeeding motivation as I used my milk as medicine, using my diet as a way to get her the extra nutrients and sense of wellbeing she needed being premature. Suddenly I became breastfeeding savvy, pump in tow and loved the empowering feeling of helping her to become strong, rather than the helplessness I would have felt otherwise.

5 years later, our little boy came and there was no question that of course I would breastfeed. I ate my hempseeds, my kale, my potatoes and rice, my breastfeeding power food, and off we went. Our little boy was the breastfeeding champion of the family. He thrived in everyway.
I wrote my book, Who They Really Are during our son’s infancy and at one point I talk about weaning. He was about 10 months heading into his first interest into the subject and went through a time of turning away from me to go to sleep. However, soon a tooth started to come and he quickly latched back on.
He’s had a few stops and starts since then, each time having us all shrug our shoulders and saying he was done for good. But then something always came up. He would start teething, some change would occur, he would get scared, and then he’d latch back on again after a lovely plea of “Ta?”.
Over the last few months we fell into a nice routine. Our lad had quit naptime, so would use “ta” for going to sleep at night, maybe a couple more if he woke up and then first thing in the morning. It was basically our connection time and sometimes he would start but decide against it in order to slide under the blankets and go to sleep by himself.

However, it all shifted again when we moved to the place we’ve rented for the winter and we got him his own little toddler bed to be beside our bed where he he had been co-sleeping. He loves the bed (and the Thomas the Tank bedsheets), and refuses to come back in with us although I ask every night, but suddenly he’s become a little unfocused in his play and he’s back to asking for Ta throughout the day. (He always sounds lovely though, especially in the car when he knows I REALLY can’t, and he starts his song “mommy, Ta…. Mommy Ta… mommy Ta…” He also has started a few Ta games, like trying to pull away before unlatching and such, or offering it to his sisters!

I will admit it there are times that it feels off and there are times that I do tell him he has to wait, be it because I’m in the middle of doing something, or because I see that in his unfocusedness he’s become bored. Then, I will say that I turn to the Art of Distraction and try to get him focused by playing a game with him or shifting his attention onto something else to get him busy. He also knows that I won’t nurse too close to dinner or bed as I, selfishly, can’t let him fall asleep before then and I know he’ll be getting tired.
Now logically, by this point, a lot of people will be saying, its time to quit. He’s getting older and it’s not serving the same purpose, so wean him. But I’ve done a lot of thinking about this over the last year, and feeling about the matter from a stepped back position of Spiritually Aware Parenting and I’ve discovered something.
Whereas our little boy needed to breastfeed from a perspective of nutrition for the first year of his life, the role of it has shifted to a more emotional/spiritual one. When our boy is feeling secure in his vantage point and day to day living, he nurses less. When he’s feeling a little off, a little shaky in where his exploration and growth has taken him he runs to me for the grounding, connecting power of nursing in my arms. Hence why it’s such a nice way to go to sleep.
With that in mind to wean means having the patience to wait until our little boy has caught up with himself and has gotten use to his new perspective that’s he’s gained through experience. When he’s confident in the new house, the new bed… and the Thomas the tank engine sheets and feels good with who he is now.
When he feels secure again, there will be a window and then maybe he will be willing to take that leap and stop Ta. That will then lead to another growth and expansion which he will have to adjust to and I will have to find an alternative way to help him connect. Or if its not that growth spurt, than it will be the next one, or the next.
But for now, the idea that when our little boy is feeling off I can sometimes help him find connection again…well its as empowering as those early breastfeeding days when I was providing nutrients for our preemie little girl.

One last note... this is my story, this is what feels right to me and my connection to Who I Really am. Whether you breastfeed or not, and for how long is up to you and all your inner Re-sources. If I'm an advocate for anything it is purely this... Be true to yourself, breathe, listen, and trust your instincts and your true connection. Be well, happy and thrive.

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