Pumpkin is 15 months old now, and we're still nursing. Not only that, I'm still pumping, albeit only one time a day. Pumpkin gets five ounces of breastmilk in a sippy cup at day care, and probably drinks another 5-8 ounces of cow's milk throughout the day.
I fully expected to stop pumping when Pumpkin was one year old. But then she was eating so poorly, and we were stressing about getting her onto finger food and drinking from a sippy cup instead of a bottle so that she could move up to the toddler room at day care... so I kept pumping. I didn't want to change any more of her routine than necessary. About a month ago, I dropped one of the two daytime pumpings, and started spending down some of the accumulated frozen breastmilk in my freezer. I thought I would drop the other pumping after a few weeks. But I didn't.
I can't really say why I am not actively weaning Pumpkin. Maybe it is that contented look she gets when she latches on and starts nursing. Maybe it is the fact that when I pick her up from day care and hand her the blue sippy cup with cow's milk, she reaches instead for the now empty red sippy cup that had breastmilk (we color code to make it easier for the day care workers to remember to give her the breastmilk first). How can I take away something she clearly likes? She still seems so little.
And yet, the weaning has clearly started. We don't nurse in public much anymore- when we are out and about, she drinks cow's milk from her sippy cup. Pumpkin has remodeled her nursing schedule and may be slowly dropping feedings. We just added a pre-bedtime snack (with cow's milk), because she kept signing that she wanted a cracker after her bath. However, if I'm home, she still also likes to nurse before falling asleep. If I'm not home, she's not too interested in a sippy cup or bottle of breastmilk, but then wakes up earlier for her middle of the night nursing. (Yes, she is still nursing once in the middle of the night. We had mostly nightweaned her fairly painlessly when she was about 10 months old. She un-nightweaned herself quite stubbornly when she was about a year old and now screams like her little world is ending if I don't come in and nurse her when she is ready for it.)
I can't figure out how I feel about all of this. On the one hand, I think it is a good thing to nurse a bit longer. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding (with "complementary foods") for "up to two years or beyond". As long as I'm breastfeeding, I don't worry about the nutritional quality (or lack thereof) of Pumpkin's solid food diet, which still relies heavily on crackers. Pumpkin's clearly still enjoying nursing, and I enjoy nursing her. So why stop?
On the other hand, I'd like to drink a margarita (or two!) without calculating the number of hours before I'm likely to nurse again. I also suspect that Pumpkin won't sleep through the night until she's weaned, and I'd really, really like to sleep through the night with regularity again. Pumpkin's solid food diet may not be great, but it is clearly within the realm of normal toddler eating habits, so I don't really think she will suffer nutritionally if I stopped nursing her. So why don't I stop?
I don't know what I'll eventually decide to do. I'm sort of hoping Pumpkin will decide for me, by dropping more nursings. I know that there is even a school of parenting thought that says that waiting for Pumpkin to decide to wean is precisely what I should do. However, I also know that this school of parenting thought isn't the reason I'm not weaning. I'm not weaning because I can't quite bring myself to decide to do it.