My youngest son is just a year old. He’s an avid nursling and I quite enjoy this special relationship we share. The nursing experience I’ve had with him has been  different than I had with his older brother. The differences have been subtle, but different nonetheless.
From the beginning both took to it well and eagerly. I had few issues, and those I did were easily resolved with the support of my midwives and husband. It was a comfortable, easy experience from very early on. The learning curve with both boys was short and we settled nicely into a routine within weeks. I was fortunate and I’m thankful for it.
My first son self-weaned by the time he was 12 months. He had reduced his nursings to just once a day before bed and then one night he decided he didn’t want it. He was an independent little man, busy and eager to seize the day. I suspect nursing slowed him down. For a time he enjoyed the comfort of it at bedtime, but soon he was ready to move on and I was content to let him. We’d had a wonderful experience and I had no reservations when he weaned.
My second son’s nursing experience has been different. I would describe him as a voracious nurser who at 12 months shows no signs of slowing down. Whereas my oldest had dropped to just one nursing session a day by 11 months, this little one is content to nurse as often as five times a day. He asks for it in a way I never experienced with his older brother. He nestles his head down and shows me what he wants and, of course, I can’t deny him. Why would I? Nursing offers him comfort and security. It’s an amazing gift I’m happy to give him and a special bond we share just the two of us.
The problem is, we are apart most of the day while I work. Often I leave in the morning before he’s up and we aren’t reunited until later in the day. This means he makes up for all the daytime nursings at night and I’m exhausted. I’m struggling to keep it up, but I’m not sure I can. A few weeks in and it’s affecting me physically, which in turn means it’s affecting my milk supply. I’m so tired I’m not producing milk as quickly. It’s a vicious cycle, because he gets frustrated and I get frustrated and we just go round and round. Some nights he nurses and nurses and I don’t have a let down. He’ll roll over and go back to sleep only to waken an hour or two later to try again. Even though I WANT to, I don’t think I CAN keep it up.
It’s a difficult impasse. I’m not sure what to do. It’s entirely possible that this will be my last baby. I’m reluctant for this time to end, but in my heart I feel it might best if I gently encourage him to wean. We both need our rest. I’m not an effective mother to either of my boys, as a wife to my husband, or as an employee when I’m this exhausted. I can hardly think straight most days and I’m starting to dread nights once again. I don’t want this to become bitter. I want to end it positively, lovingly, and without feeling like it was because I couldn’t do it.