This is not a squeamish post. In fact, there is no blood involved at all.
Now, before you start accusing me of click-bait headlines, let me explain.
Let’s start with the fact that I was still nursing my toddler…at 2.5 years old.
This was so far past what I expected or wanted. But I was at a loss of what to do.
I nursed my firstborn for a year and then he basically weaned himself as I don’t recall it being a big deal. He used a pacifier and took bottles fine, so that was that.
Fast forward to my second child and he was totally different. He flat-out refused to take a pacifier from anyone around four months old. And he would only accept bottles at daycare.
So what did that mean? Mama was his full-time feeding machine and pacifier when I was around.
His first birthday came and went and I foolishly believed he would just lose interest in nursing. But without a pacifier to give him the comfort he sought, that left me and my boobs.
It wasn’t long before I started to get anxious about people finding out I was still nursing him well after he was a year old. I didn’t even want his pediatrician to know. Mostly because he was still waking up a couple times during the night which meant night nursing, which he obviously didn’t “need.”
I knew a few women who also nursed longer than they wanted and ended up just quitting cold turkey and letting their child cry it out for a few days.
I just couldn’t do this. First off, my son has the LOUDEST blood-curdling scream I have ever heard – and still does. Second, I’ve come to learn that noises like that really trigger my anxiety and so I always give in just to calm my own nerves.
His second birthday came and went and we were still nursing a few times a day and night.
I started getting desperate. I was getting horrible sleep and it showed. I was angry and irritable. My mental health was in the toilet.
I sought out toddler weaning groups on Facebook and found one that seemed decent enough.
And there I found my miracle.
I had heard of the Band-aid trick before – putting bandages over your nipples and telling your kiddo you have “an ouchie.”
Well, the plain Band-aids didn’t work. He just looked at them and told me to take them off.
And then some genius mom decided to take it up a notch. She grabbed a bottle of red food coloring and put a drop on a Band-aid and then covered her nips with them. Her child seemed to understand that this meant serious business. Her boobs were bleeding!
I figured, what the hell, might as well give it a try. My last resort was trying a stick of Sucker Buster in hopes of deterring my son with a terrible stench and taste.
A little over a week ago, I tried out the “bloody Band-aid” trick, AND IT WORKED!
It was just before nap time and when I laid my son down, he asked to nurse. I told him I had ouchies and lifted my shirt.
And he was appalled. He saw the “blood” soaking through the bandage and told me to put my shirt down.
He didn’t even cry. I think he was too disturbed.
He woke up from his nap and carried on with his day, only asking if my ouchies were feeling better when it was bedtime.
From then on, he only asks about once a day if I’m feeling better. I still wear the Band-aids in case he wants proof, but he usually doesn’t ask.
I’m hoping within a month he will have forgotten completely and moved on.
Both of us are getting a better night’s sleep, which makes me so happy.
I wanted to write about this because in American culture, it’s so taboo to nurse children beyond a year. It bothered me how much shame I felt, like I was doing something wrong. And because of the taboo, moms are hesitant to talk about their experience. How are we supposed to get help when no one can talk about it?
So this is for the moms who are nursing toddlers well beyond their plans. And I want to remind you that it is your body and your child. You decide when it’s time to quit. If you and your toddler have a nice routine and nursing is a regarded bonding time for you both, then there is no rush to stop.
But if you are desperately looking for help, give this a try. The worst thing that can happen is you have bright-red stained nipples for a couple days.