Before I had children, I had a clear and strong idea of what kind of perfect parent I was going to be. Though Andy and are not extreme on the 'hippie spectrum' most of our pre-baby parenting ideas leaned more towards hippie than nazi and they still do, but let's just say, we're now cutting ourselves some slack. Ha.
I think to the outside world, I would be considered a more tolerant, attachment parenting, hippie-esque parent, and yes, we practise something called NVC (non-violent communication) with our babies (though NVC doesn't have a direct link to AP), we also don't use punishment as a method to discipline, nor do we dominate, shout or hit our children in any way, but still, we are by no means extreme on the spectrum of tolerant parenting.
Breastfeeding and co-sleeping were something that seemed obvious to me before I had children. I couldn't fathom putting a newborn far away from me in another room. It just didn't feel safe. And the breastfeeding thing seemed obvious: nutritionally it was healthier for the baby and also for me plus there was the whole bonding thing. Also, I have a great fear of cancer so when they say: breastfeeding reduces the chances of cancer I'm like: keep sucking on them boobies baby! Ha. But, I am getting to the point via a different route than I wanted, let me back track.
So, I never formally ascribed to the attachment parenting approach even though co-sleeping and extended breastfeeding seem two of the 3 pillars of attachment parenting.
Dylan was born, we started breastfeeding, it went great. I never gave 'when to stop' a huge amount of thought at first and was aiming for at least a year I think. Then as time went by, it became obvious that breastfeeding had become an integral part of my relationship with Dylan and it was an awesome tool to: help him go to sleep, calm him down when in pain & support his health (and mine). It also created a close connection and bond with Dylan that I still cherish today.
There were times that I started to really dislike breastfeeding though. Particularly when he was around 10 months old and he started to pinch the skin of my breasts and sometimes he'd 'clamp down' on the nipple leaving me in excruciating pain.
And here comes the kicker: I didn't not stop, because I am a holy selfless angel mother faithfully following the 'sacrifice all your own needs for child' rules. Nope. It was simply easier to keep breastfeeding. It avoided major drama. And when you are sleep deprived and weary and deeply tired of drama. You do everything you can to avoid drama. It's similar to offering your child that candy or cookie so that he won't have a tantrum.
Basically, for me, it's like this:
I'm trying to make our lives as easy as possible while doing the least emotional damage to all family members involved. It's that simple.
If that means I breastfeed Dylan some more, then I will.
It's all about ease people.
After the first year; we naturally progressed on, he loved breastfeeding, he still does and we just kept going. There was no reason not to (apart from perhaps people being freaked out by the idea of it, but you know what: I'd rather have less cancer risk, a drama free life and a happy baby while freaking out people than; more cancer risk, more drama an unhappy baby and gaining the approval of other people. When I look at what I prefer, it's a no-brainer.)
So, we continued on after the first year: he loved it, I didn't mind, healthier for both of us, easy choice. Then I became pregnant with Elliot. Breastfeeding while pregnant is less comfortable and less easy, so we lessened the feeds, but still continued. I think by that time, it was twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.
I was told that if you want to stop breastfeeding before a new baby comes, do so a good 3 months before, otherwise it's very painful for the toddler to see the new baby breastfeed and so I decided not to stop before Elliot as at that time he still loved the feeds so much.
Dylan is now 2 years and 9 months old and has an occasional feed. Perhaps one feed every 2-3 days. He gets sad and frustrated when he sees Elliot feed though he's getting better. I don't imagine he'll be feeding for much longer. I think he'll finish before he's 3 years old. We'll be doing whatever is comfortable for the both of us.
I hold no judgement of people who breastfeed their children beyond 3, though I can understand that some people may find it awkward or unusual as it's not a common thing here in the Western world. But I don't understand -like for instance with gay marriage- while people even care. I am a generally chilled person though when it comes to other people's life styles. If your life style doesn't hurt anyone involved or others, then I'm so very cool with it. Anyhoo ... :)
So, that's my/ our breastfeeding story.
Love from a tandem-feeding mum who still breastfeeds her 2.9 year old toddler. :-)
(Dylan circa 1.5 years old)