When I started breastfeeding, my initial goal was "until he grows teeth." The thought of putting my nipple in a mouth with sharp pointies just wasn't appealing.
Thatbaby didn't get his first tooth until 10 months. At that point, I seemed too close to the "finish line" of 12 months to stop. And I was lucky to not have a biter.
Part of it was my own stubborn pride. I worked REALLY hard to breastfeed for those first 10 months. Being a working mom and breastfeeding is much harder than being home and being able to feed on demand. Pumping sucks. Pumping at work sucks even more - taking up every "free moment" I had (no going out to lunch, no working out during the work day, and having to stop in the middle of a workflow because I needed to pump.) And I was one of the "lucky" ones whose kid ate more than she pumped during the workday. Which meant I got to add in pumping sessions at home, on the weekend, in the middle of the night, just to keep up with him. With all that hard work, I just couldn't throw in the towel with 2 short months in front of me.
And then 12 months rolled around all too quickly. October. The start of flu season. And I just wasn't ready to quit yet. There were so many benefits to "extending" breastfeeding:
* The added immunity - so far (knock on wood), Thatbaby has managed to not catch the RSV that went around his daycare as well as the out-all-week sicknesses that have plagued many of his classmates. And with the flu season rolling around, I feel good about giving him a little something extra to fight it off.
* The added healing - Thatbaby has been sick this year, but it's been very minor and seems to pass quickly. When his coughing wakes him up in the middle of the night, I nurse him. And his doctor has noted that probably helps the illness pass faster.
* The nutrition - I don't believe in "picky babies" at this age. I think they all go through phases. Phases where they eat a ton, phases where they hardly eat. Phases where they don't eat vegetables, phases where they only eat fruit. This is especially true during times of teething. I don't have to worry how much (or little) Thatbaby eats, because I know he's getting the nutrients he needs in my breastmilk.
* The added sleep! Thatbaby sleeps through the night now, usually waking between 5 and 6:00. However, I nurse him at that time, and he knocks right back to sleep. On the weekends, we usually get to sleep till almost 7:30! Which is such a blessing. Because my friends that don't nurse? They're up long before 6am.
So at 12 months, I stopped pumping, but kept up with breastfeeding. I dropped one pumping session a week until I wasn't pumping any more - which was perfect in terms of "weaning" since I never had any engorgement, clogged ducts, mastitis or other painful weaning symptoms. At first, it seemed like Thatbaby nursed more than before. He was nursing almost every time we were together. And still getting breastmilk at daycare - I had enough in my freezer to last him till he was 13 months.
At 13 months, I started sending cow's milk in to daycare for him. But he was still nursing at home.
And now, at 16 months, he nurses twice a day - first thing in the morning, and right before bed. Of course, when he wakes up in pain - from teething or illness, I nurse him then too. And this "night nursing" is strongly encouraged by Thatbaby's doctor.
Nursing for over a year isn't exactly common, but it has given me a wealth of knowledge - so please feel free to shoot any breastfeeding questions my way and I'll do the best to answer based on my experience.
At this point, I plan to start weaning in April, after flu season - stay tuned for those adventures!!!!!