My son is 4 and still nursing. I have got to be the world's biggest proponent of natural weaning ever. But right now I think I just need to vent/seek understanding.
I seem to have had an outlier-type experience breastfeeding. It's been the most difficult thing I've ever done, physically. I'm flashing back to my lactation consultant (one of three I eventually hired) saying, “Well, you probably don't have thrush AND oversupply AND Raynaud's.” Well, guess what, in fact I did. The first year was hell. I had plugged ducts all the time and raging thrush that didn't respond to anything. (And I mean ANYTHING.) When my son was 11 months old I had my first pain-free days of nursing (9 of them, after 19 weeks on fluconazole—and then the thrush came raging back).
My son nursed all the time. A friend of mine who belongs, with me, to the 38AA club and also happens to be an OB/GYN said she thought women with small boobs have to nurse more frequently. I don't know if there are any data to support that but he also woke up every three hours on a good night (bad nights, every 45 minutes) and I ended up getting tendonitis in my shoulder from all that side-lying.
Mercifully, when his 2nd-year molars came in at 2 ½ yrs, he dropped from all the time to just once at bedtime and once upon waking up in the morning. (The tendonitis happened right after the molars, and I night-weaned.) The thrush suddenly, magically, got a lot better. (Now it's okay as long as I eat no sugar.) However, about a month later, I entered a hormonal purgatory. My doctors don't see any connection but all at once I started having weird cycles and spotting 7-10 days before my period and I gained 20 pounds (practically overnight). Then I started having hormonally-related sinusy migraine headaches.
I think the most difficult things now are 1. not having doctors validate my experiences, 2. having people assume I must eat like crap and therefore everything that's happening to me is somehow my fault, and 3. not seeing myself reflected ANYWHERE. All the books for breastfeeding moms make it seem like everyone else is blissfully enjoying this easy, joyous experience. Like they can hardly keep from singing, it's just the greatest thing they've ever done. Obviously I have enjoyed some of my breastfeeding moments, but mostly it's been hard even when it's been sweet.
I definitely am not seeking medical advice. I am certain I have already tried whatever remedies would be suggested. Currently things are under control if I eat no sugar, caffeine, dairy, alcohol, or other fun thing. (Well, I have figured out some possible fun foods...carob, bananas, peanut butter, stevia, and coconut milk are all Good Things—and they can even be eaten together!) And if I do choose to eat a small amount of any forbidden substance, I have methods that at this point can manage it (massive amounts of external and internal probiotics, irrigating my nose, ibuprofen....)
I am also not seeking to be advised that I wean. I have been thus advised many times. It is so clearly so important to my son though. I recently mentioned reading that Katherine Dettwyler thought most mammals weaned after their last molars came in at 5 or 6 and my son got a deer-in-the-headlights look in his eyes (he's recently been chewing on his fingers so we've talked about those molars) until I told him I didn't think his were all the way in yet. I also attribute the fact that his only allergy-related problem thus far is an apparent tree pollen allergy, despite the fact that my husband is super-allergic and suffered from debilitating asthma as a kid, to our extended nursing. It just doesn't feel like a choice to wean unilaterally.
And honestly, this is NOTHING compared to my first year. It is a walk in the park. Even my husband, who has had to be HEROICALLY supportive, can tolerate where we are now. The hardest part right now is not knowing if something resembling my old body will ever come back or if this is my new, unfortunate body forevermore.
I would just like to know that other mothers have hard times and had weird things happen to their bodies. Thanks if you can help.