A Letter to my Breastfeeding, Bed-Sharing Toddler

Today you are 18 months old.

You woke up giggling.  I felt you move beside me and knew you had positioned your face inches from mine, before I opened my eyes.  I let go of the last remnants of sleep and slowly stretched as I peeled my eyelids back.  Peekaboo.  Your mouth, full of 16 little teeth, grinning.

You flopped back down next to me and signed for milk.  As I pulled back the covers, to draw you close, Daddy sighed.  You popped back up again, peering over my side.  “Dada”.

You always seem to be surprised he’s here in bed too.

Every morning of your 18 months you have woken up beside me.  You know nothing else.  We share our sleep as we share our days.

toddler breastfeeding to sleep  toddler sleeping  

We didn’t set out to bed-share.  I didn’t even know what natural parenting was before you were born.  We fully expected to parent like everyone else did – you had a cot, a bedroom, bottles and a dummy all lined up.  But that wasn’t our reality.  Everything modern day parenting told us to expect and do was not what you were telling us you needed.  It wasn’t what my instinct was telling me you needed.  Either the expectations around us were wrong, or you and I were.  Tentatively we trusted our gut feeling and followed your lead.

Throughout the day your little hands sign for milk as and when you want or need it.  Somedays you ask for it more than others.  You ask when you’re hungry and you ask when you’re thirsty.  You also ask for solid food and water in your cup depending on your fancy.

Often you ask for milk to connect with me, to reassure you in uncertain situations, or remind me to pay you a little more attention.  The other day you asked me for milk because I was holding another baby.  You nurse when you’re upset or hurt and you nurse when you’re sleepy.  Breastmilk is so many things to you.

I never imagined I’d breastfeed for this long.  Before you were born, I was completely unaware that anyone did.  But our beginning was difficult.  You’re entrance earthside a little hurried and overwhelming.  I stubbornly clung to breastfeeding.  I felt like I was failing in every other way as a mother, and this was all I had to give you.  It was a struggle, but we succeeded together.  Six months came and went.  You breastfed alongside baby-led weaning, soothing my anxieties about you eating enough.  You breastfed through illness when you could keep no solid food down.  You breastfed on holiday, when all around you was different and new.  One year arrived and by then I knew the benefits.  There were no good reasons to stop.

Everyday you amaze me by doing something new.  I can’t keep up with how fast you are growing, changing before my very eyes.  Words tumble out of you like a waterfall, strange little insights into the way we live our lives.  I’m learning how you see the world, the connections you make, the things you experience and decide are important.  Tea, shoes, balloons and bears.  Ducks, stairs and spoons.  You are everywhere and you are right beside me.

toddler walking down street

We are barely ever apart.  Sometimes its hard, sometimes I forget to look after myself properly because my heart is so full of you.  Sometimes I lose my patience and have to take a step away.  But not for very long.  

You are confident, sociable and secure.  You have no reason to think I wouldn’t be there for you.  No reason to worry, or to cling.  You trust me so openly, and so absolutely. 

You are my baby Bee.

A letter To My Breastfeeding, Bedsharing Toddler

 

3 Little Buttons
Dear Bear and Beany
Mummy Times Two
Follow:

55 Comments

  1. Mary
    January 29, 2017 / 10:57 pm

    Beautiful x

    • catherine
      January 29, 2017 / 11:11 pm

      Thank you xx

  2. January 30, 2017 / 12:47 pm

    Came across this on #PostsFromTheHeart … lovely post and one I can relate too as I bf my 3rd boy till he was 17mths and now my little girl is soon to be 8mths old and we are bf..she is in a cot beside me but comes into my bed whenever she wants fed and that is a lot through the night!! Hubby always sighs and grunts but as soon as our girl gives him her toothless grin he cant stay grumpy for long!!

    • catherine
      January 31, 2017 / 10:08 pm

      We have a kingsize bed next to a raised toddler bed. I usually end up sleeping in the crack so Daddy has three quarters of a kingsize all to himself.

  3. January 30, 2017 / 12:54 pm

    What a lovely post! Those early years when it’s just the two of you are so worth treasuring. You sound like a lovely mummy with great instincts.

    • catherine
      January 31, 2017 / 10:07 pm

      Thank you lovely.

  4. January 30, 2017 / 1:29 pm

    Aw so lovely. It never is how you imagine it is it?! Lovely letter and a lucky little one to have a mama like you xxx #PostsFromTheHeart

    • catherine
      January 31, 2017 / 10:07 pm

      Aw thanks Rachel.

  5. Emma Price
    January 30, 2017 / 6:32 pm

    My story and yours are so similar. Beautifully put. 💗

    • catherine
      January 31, 2017 / 10:06 pm

      Thank you Emma x

  6. January 30, 2017 / 11:01 pm

    This really touched me. I breastfed for just over 18 months when it had to stop because of my work and other problems but I loved that closeness and the connection and the comfort when I was breastfeeding. Lily is 2 and a half now and although she (I don’t think remembers) me breastfeeding her I still feel like we have an amazing connection because I carried on longer than I thought I would and we had so much closeness. We bed share as well. She starts in her bed but comes in to our room about midnight every night. Sometimes I just want to stretch out, but I also love the cuddles and she is just so content in the middle of me and her Daddy. A beautiful post. #postsfromtheheart

    • catherine
      January 31, 2017 / 10:06 pm

      Thank you. I love the closeness and connection that breastfeeding fosters, and you really can’t beat sleepy snuggles.

  7. January 31, 2017 / 10:57 am

    I can relate to all of this – we did exactly the same with Little B, who is 26 months old. I breastfed him until he was 21 months and only stopped because I was pregnant again. He was in our bed until about a month ago, again we’ve only moved him because the new baby is due. Can’t wait to do it all again! #postsfromtheheart

    • catherine
      January 31, 2017 / 10:05 pm

      It’s lovely to find like-minded mamas out there, especially when what you do isn’t considered ‘normal’. Good luck x

  8. January 31, 2017 / 12:48 pm

    This is such a sweet post! I’m still breastfeeding my 19-month-old too – only once a day before bedtime, and like you, I don’t see any reason to stop. It comforts her before bed, so why take that away? We tried bedsharing briefly but she actually sleeps better on her own – which is fine, because so do I! #DreamTeam

    • catherine
      January 31, 2017 / 10:02 pm

      That before bed feed is so calming and grounding – it often sends me off too!

  9. January 31, 2017 / 1:30 pm

    aww this is so sweet. I agree that sometimes you can have an image of how you want to parent but reality sets in and takes hold.
    I wanted to breastfeed but after only 3 months my milk dried up and my PND made me not want to do it through exhaustion of a gutsy baby.
    At 8 months he is still in our room and I dont want him to leave. He has his own space though so maybe in a month or two I’ll transition him haha! #PostsFromTheHeart

    • catherine
      January 31, 2017 / 9:59 pm

      It will feel very strange when Bee moves to her own room – although I don’t see it being any time soon. It’s so nice knowing they’re close and safe.

  10. January 31, 2017 / 3:01 pm

    I love this so much. I can feel my eyes filling with tears (happy and sad). My breastfeeding journey was cut short (at 15mths) when my older daughter was suddenly rushed into hospital for an emergency operation. There was no gentle weaning for my baby because suddenly I could not be around for her, and we’d had no chance to start stock-piling breastmilk. But I am grateful for the 15mths we had. She took the sudden change completely in her stride because, just as you describe, we had spent 15mths completely unseparated and she had learnt to trust me in everything. I am still sad that it was such an abrupt end, but I am proud of how she dealt with it (and my eldest’s operation went well too). A really lovely, heartfelt post #DreamTeam

    • catherine
      January 31, 2017 / 9:57 pm

      That must have been hard, but you had the groundwork done, which gave her the resilience to cope with it. I’m glad it all turned out okay, sometimes you can’t prepare for what life throws at you.

  11. January 31, 2017 / 4:46 pm

    This is so touching and it is lovely that as a family you have found such a lovely way to bond and connect. It sounds as though you have found a perfect balance that works for you and that makes both of you happy. Beautifully captured. Thanks for sharing with #DreamTeam x

    • catherine
      January 31, 2017 / 9:54 pm

      Thank you x

  12. January 31, 2017 / 7:48 pm

    This is beautiful! Breastfeeding is such a bonding experience, I only managed a few months with my eldest and however hard it was, it was so special to have that time. #postsfromtheheart

    • catherine
      January 31, 2017 / 9:54 pm

      Thank you. It’s different for everyone but special in its own unique way.

  13. January 31, 2017 / 8:28 pm

    So beautiful. Reminds me so much of my early days with my little girls. I know it’s cliche, but it’s just so true: the time goes so fast! #postsfromtheheart

    • catherine
      January 31, 2017 / 9:53 pm

      So so fast.

  14. February 2, 2017 / 12:03 pm

    Beautiful. Bed sharing is so lovely and feels so natural to us too. I LOVE waking up to my beautiful daughter’s smile every morning. #DreamTeam

    • catherine
      February 4, 2017 / 9:40 am

      You can’t beat it can you?

  15. February 2, 2017 / 9:17 pm

    This is beautiful. Breastfeeding is definitely something that was far more beautiful than I thought it was going to be. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be for me, but I loved it. It was a sad day when it stopped with both my girls. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove x

    • catherine
      February 4, 2017 / 9:41 am

      I’m so thankful for my breastfeeding relationship with Bee, it will be a sad day when she nurses for the last time.

  16. February 3, 2017 / 5:06 pm

    This is such a beautiful post! Breastfeeding definitely brings such a close connection – I used to love those feeds in our bed in the morning, all snuggled up together. Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

    • catherine
      February 4, 2017 / 9:45 am

      Thank you lovely. You can’t beat lazy morning snuggles.

  17. February 3, 2017 / 5:06 pm

    This is a lovely post. I totally forget to look after myself just because I a man so full of my two, and mostly I don’t care a bit! X #Sharingthebloglove

    • catherine
      February 4, 2017 / 9:46 am

      Thank you. You’re priorities completely shift when you become a mum don’t they?

  18. Marie
    February 4, 2017 / 4:49 pm

    This post brought me to tears, I am also a breast feeding mama 🙂 thank you for sharing.

    • catherine
      February 5, 2017 / 3:19 pm

      Thank you lovely.

  19. February 5, 2017 / 2:36 am

    Beautifully written! I have weird nipples (apparently….who knew?) so I was unable to breastfeed without smacking on these bizarre plastic tips which barely stayed on. I pumped exclusively for 8 months, and was so glad that my kids were able to get breast milk, but I missed out on that lovely closeness that you describe. Enjoy these times and appreciate them, as I can tell you do! #DreamTeam

    • catherine
      February 5, 2017 / 3:20 pm

      Well done for pumping. I pumped a little before I went back to work. I hated it and don’t think I could have done it exclusively for 8 months.

    • catherine
      February 5, 2017 / 3:20 pm

      Well done for pumping. I pumped a little before I went back to work. I hated it and don’t think I could have done it exclusively for 8 months.

  20. February 5, 2017 / 7:33 pm

    Awwww. My mummy misses breastfeeding 🙁 she stopped with me around 6 months when she went back to work full time and I started nursery. I’ve always been independent and sleep on my own, my mummy would love to share a bed once in a while, but that never happens…and daddy is glad of that! Her heart bursts with love too, so totally relate to that x lovely post x #DreamTeam #SharingtheBlogLove

    • catherine
      February 6, 2017 / 10:11 pm

      Thank you sweetie.

  21. February 6, 2017 / 5:16 am

    Beautiful.We all have to follow our own path whether it’s the norm or carving our own way. Thanks for thinking up to #Postsromtheheart

    • catherine
      February 6, 2017 / 10:12 pm

      Thank you.

  22. February 6, 2017 / 10:08 am

    This is a lovely post. I never co-slept with my two as when both were first born I used to dream I’d rolled onto them and so I had a massive fear. As for breast feeding, both of mine were born with tongue tie and couldn’t latch on properly so I could only manage a couple of weeks before having to give up. When I read about people who do co sleep and still BF my heart fills with warmth for that situation, it’s an absolute joy to be able to do those things so keep on doing them! #postsfromtheheart

    • catherine
      February 6, 2017 / 10:13 pm

      Thank you, I cherish them every day. Tongue-tie is tough, and there just isn’t enough support for dealing with it.

  23. February 6, 2017 / 1:21 pm

    What a lovely beautiful post! My little boy, my youngest out of three, co-sleeps with me every night. He’s starting to sleep in his crib for longer periods but he is still in bed with me every single night. It’s amazing feeling. We just have to do what’s best for us and the child.
    #postsfromtheheart

    • catherine
      February 6, 2017 / 10:14 pm

      We will miss it when they are gone.

  24. February 7, 2017 / 11:58 pm

    This is lovely.

    We didn’t manage to breastfeed for more than a couple of months, but just having her nearby in the bedside cot was lovely. She’ll be moving into her own room soon, and I’m missing her already. 🙁

  25. February 14, 2017 / 1:54 am

    This is honestly so lovely, and something I think more new mums need to read. It’s ok to follow your instincts, even if it does go a little against “the norm”. Love the Mama of a bed sharing three year old who self weaned last Christmas 🙂

    • catherine
      February 15, 2017 / 4:52 pm

      Thank you lovely. It’s something I wish I’d known before having Bee. I couldn’t be happier in our “hippy” set-up now.

  26. February 21, 2017 / 9:58 am

    This is such a beautiful post! Well done for breast feeding for so long!
    And I would definitely say you’re not failing as you said you had felt it- you’ve raised a bright independent baby! That’s a definite win!

    • catherine
      February 23, 2017 / 3:35 pm

      Thank you lovely.

  27. Paula
    February 22, 2017 / 9:40 pm

    I love this so much, so lovely to hear from like minded mama’s when so many people ask me when I’m going to transistion my little boy into his own cot, or say I shouldn’t cuddle him so much cause I’ll spoil him! Reading your blog makes me really happy xxx

    • catherine
      February 23, 2017 / 3:37 pm

      Thank you. Its one of the reasons I started writing, to be a voice for like-minded mamas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *