I didn't start off deciding that it would be that way. I was nursed for six months, so I figured I would nurse her for six months. Well, six months came and went before I could even notice. All of a sudden she was eight months. I realized that I hadn't felt any reason to nurse her. I asked my mom why I was weaned at six months and she said it was because I had to go to the hospital for testing (I had really bad colic) and my mom dried up while I was there. I asked her how long she nursed my brother and she said she couldn't remember, maybe nine months.
So that is when I started researching nursing and weaning. I read "How Weaning Happens" and other books like that. I started reading about how some people nursed their kids past a year. I became a crazy expert about all the benefits of nursing past a year and all the different groups that recommend nursing at least two years. I then started wondering when a natural weaning age would be. I read Katherine Dettwyler's "Biocultural Perspective" that had all sorts of very in depth studies about nursing. I found out that the world average for child lead weaning is five years. I found out the world average for weaning in general is three to four years, and that includes the US average of only six months. Why then, if the average age for child led weaning is five, do we look at a picture on "Time" of a three year old nursing and call it extended nursing? Isn't is just average? (From a world perspective of course.)
This is how our weaning happened. I let her nurse whenever she wanted from the beginning. There weren't any limits until she got to be four. Before that I let her nurse in public under the recomendation of "at least two years." I continued when she was three because she was little for her age. Then she turned four and I realized she hadn't asked to nurse in public for a couple weeks so I started wearing a regular bra again and if she did ask I would just tell her we couldn't because I had the wrong bra on. She accepted this. All this time she was still nursing at night. When she was three months old we'd figured out how to sleep near each other in a way that she could roll over and nurse when she wanted without waking me up. We were still doing this. When she got to be around four and a half, she had gotten too big for me to do this comfortably. I would wake up sore from sleeping with my arm over my head so that she could be nestled in my arm put. We started talking about night weaning. She didn't want to do it. I suggested that at first we just wouldn't nurse between 12:00 and 4:00 in the morning. She agreed to this. The first night we woke up and asked to nurse at 1:00. I reminded her that it wasn't time. She sort of half cried and clung to my shirt, but fell back to sleep quickly. Still, it was a painful thing for me, feeling as though I was depriving her of something she needed. I decided I would try another day or two, but if it didn't work out, we'd go back to how it was before. The next night she went to bed at bed time and for the first time ever in life, she slept until morning. It was the first time. She was four and a half. At that point we were nursing first thing at night and first thing in the morning. Some days we had to get up in a hurry and we skipped the morning nurse. But something else huge happened when she night weaned. Her latch changed. It was starting to be not comfortable. Sometimes I had to unlatch her and fix it. Sometimes I would let her nurse for a couple minutes and ask for a break.
As her fifth birthday approached we started to talk about weaning. She didn't want to. I told her that a birthday was a good time to do it. She suggested her sixth birthday. I explained to her that her latch was changing and that was her body's way of letting her know that she doesn't need to nurse anymore. This she understood. The month up to her birthday, nursing was difficult. Her latch was bad and I often had to ask her to stop. Finally, her birthday came. It had been a busy day. She latched and it was wonderful. At one point she said something about how good mom milk is. She actually fell asleep latched on, something she hadn't done in months. It was the weaning I wanted. Then the next day she wanted to nurse again. I reminded her of her birthday weaning, but she really wanted to nurse. It lasted ony a minute if that. Her latch was all wrong and I had to ask her to stop. She never asked to nurse again.
She is aproaching six and I can hardly believe that its been almost a year since she weaned. I am proud of our family choice. Nursing for five years was wonderful and absolutely what she needed. I am writing this all now because I know there are other moms who feel like they should nurse past a year or two years or more and don't know anyone else who has done it. I want you to know, there are lots of us out there.