Diary of an Extended Breastfeeding Mom: Month 13

Medela's own Kate takes us first-hand through the challenges & successes of her extended breastfeeding journey. See her post on making it to Month 13.

Call it "extended breastfeeding", "full-term breastfeeding", or "natural-term breastfeeding", nursing beyond one year is the norm throughout the world and recommended by experts to maximize the amazing benefits of breast milk. In this series, third-time working and breastfeeding mom, Kate, shares her experiences with nursing after 12 months in her own words. Kate is part of Medela's marketing team, working as the senior manager of communications and public relations. She is happy to share her journey with you all - including her challenges and flaws - as a real glimpse into the perfectly imperfect experience of breastfeeding. If you missed the first post in the series, click to read about making it to the first year

Month 13 - Is it nearly over?

It’s 9:15 p.m. in the middle of a long week and I’m ready for this day to be over. But here I am, mid nursing session, trying to put this babe to sleep. (Yes, I nurse her to sleep. Yes, I know the experts tell me not to. Yes, I’ve tried all the things. No, they didn’t work. Let’s move on.)

I look at her, amazed at all she can do and impressed by all we’ve overcome these past 12 months – bad latches, cranial sacral therapy to improve digestive issues, reverse cycling, mastitis, teething, transitioning to solid food, and more. Should I be sentimental that this breastfeeding bond is nearing its end? Because, right now, I’m really not.  

Baby laying on a bed

My Top 5 Reasons Why I’m Excited About Being at the End of this Breastfeeding Thing:

  1. The sleep. She wakes up 2 to 4 (maybe 6) times a night to nurse. Still. I dream about how magical it will be to sleep through the night consistently, without her star-fishing me out of bed, though I will miss the way she snuggles into my arm. 
Mom with baby's hand in her mouth
  1. The poking. She regularly digs her fingers into my gums and picks my nose. Why? I have no idea. It does make me think about how I was going to give up at 3 months, then 4 months, and again at 6 months. I hate that she digs into my gums, but I love that we made it past all that. 
  1. The nipple whiplash. This little lady has been on her feet since she was 9 months, and since then every nursing session has become more and more like gymnastics. When she thrashes back and forth, unable to settle on one side, yanking on my nipple with full force whenever there’s a distraction in earshot, I am reminded how well my body has handled this brunt force every day for the past 12 months - and I am hopeful it will recover.  Until then, I’m grateful for Bounce Patrol as a distraction that settles her down, and I’m saying a prayer that my boob skin holds up a bit longer. 
  1. The biting. When she bites me for her own amusement, laughing at me as I scream, I realize we are now in this stage of nursing for comfort more than nutrients. She thinks I am so funny right now – even when I yelp in pain. Though she is now eating solid food, I know she still needs the one-on-one time that these nursing sessions provide – the comfort, the quiet (aside from me screaming), the snuggling. Though I vehemently hate this biting stage, I do love these little moments where she shows off her blossoming personality — and I’m probably the first to see it, and be victim to it.
  1. The pinching. I think I hate this worse than biting. When she pinches my boob, I instantly am reminded that it’s not necessary to feel sad about her growing up. When I inspect all the tiny bluish-purple bruises she’s inflicted on me these past few months, I realize: this is going to end (insert hallelujah hands) and I couldn’t be more ready.

It’s funny –when reading my Top 5 over again, I can’t believe I’m still breastfeeding her and dealing with all the poking, acrobatics, biting, pinching, and sleeplessness… and yet, if I could go back and do it again I would. No question.