That was back in February. He’d come signing ‘milk, milk’ and then give a cheeky smile and run away, ‘Bleurgh!’
That was one night last week, snuggling before sleep.
And so it seems that my youngest is in the process of self-weaning. It’s slow, some days it feels like he still at least half lives off milk. But it’s real. He rarely wakes for milk in the night anymore. He sometimes rolls away as he falls asleep rather than lingering there. If we’re out and busy he’ll go all day without even thinking about milk.
He is 22 months, and at the stage where sometimes he’s gently chewing or hanging on more than drinking, and I am ready in many, many ways to reclaim my body. With the exception of 5 months, I have been breastfeeding for the last 4.5 years, and some of that time was tandem feeding my toddler and new baby. I am so ready.
But my youngest will also be our last birth child, at least as far as our plans go. Once he stops breastfeeding my babies will both be gone. Our slow baby days will become slow childhood days and I will slowly forget.
So I’m going to hold these moments as long as they last. Hold them now. Maybe impatiently at times, but always gratefully.
So Elly got flu at the end of last week, and simultaneously developed flu-feeding: he reverted to baby-style constant breastfeeding.
Which is great! And not so great.
It’s great because it’s the best thing he can be doing. He hasn’t been wanting to eat all that much, but breast milk (even at 19 months during extended breastfeeding) is packed full of all the nutrients he needs and is keeping him well hydrated. It’s also packed full of antibodies to support his immune system. And it ingeniously adapts itself to be even more perfect by recognising that he is sick and stuffing in even more good things.
But I also (aside from other life things to do) have an at-home 4 year old who is less than impressed at the amount of sitting around his brother currently wants to do, and even more unimpressed that it’s taking up lots of Mummy’s time too. Then there’s the way my body feels about it. Especially when flu-feeding goes something like this: sign ‘milk’ and start tugging on Mummy’s hand. Or leg. Or face, depending on which part is reachable during her current task. Cry a bit if she isn’t immediately available. Sit in Mummy’s lap and latch on. Chew for a bit. Run off and grab a big toy, or a book. Try to latch on again while standing holding said big toy or book, then try to twist into a sitting position without giving up the toy/book or the milk. Drink some milk, then chew, pull, twist and wriggle around a bit more. Start to fall asleep, still refusing to give up the milk and waking every time Mummy tries to make an escape. Hold on with teeth for extra grip. Finally let go of milk and sleep soundly for 10 minutes. Wake up. Repeat.
So this week I’ve been trying to get a balance between Elly getting enough rest and fluids, Zeph getting enough attention and excercise and me not going out of my mind.