I just found this thread. I am pregnant with my sixth. My oldest is 8 and I have been nursing since the day he was born. All of my kids have been nursed until around three, so far, give or take a few months. They are close enough together that I have actually begun each of the last four pregnancies while still nursing two babies. Right now I am nursing my 2 1/2 year old and my 15 month old and I am two months pregnant. Looking back on all of it I am glad that I have done this and I will certainly continue. That said, it has not been without it's challenges!!
I can certainly relate to all the complaints of nipple pain and ickiness. I certainly do get this. I think it is greater with the older nursers. I think their suckle is different. Also, how much milk there is also seems to affect it for me. My 2yo nursing on a breast that is pretty empty is much harder to deal with than when it is quite full. And i have a much easier time with my 1yo than with my 2yo. And that seems to always have been the case. There have been quite a few times with various babies where I we have had to compromise somewhat. I did not want to totally wean them, but I needed some reduction in nursing times in order to function and not be a bear. With some babies this has been an easy process, with others more difficult. But eventually we always did find that happy medium.
So for those mothers who in the middle of this and feeling quite guilty, don't despair! It IS important to find a place where you can both meet. And that will mean that your nursing babe will have to adjust somewhat. But it is NOT impossible to find that place (usually!). And when it is more balanced to where you can nurse them without the anger and resentment, they will calm down a bit and respond to that as well. Sometimes that means finding a way to limit the length of a nursing. For instance, I have had a lot of luck with a happy go-lucky "Mommy has to get up (or mommy needs a break or whatever they seem to respond to) so 10 more seconds (slight pause) 5 seconds, 1-2-3-4-FIVE!)" make the counting silly somewhat and then break the suction and pull them off with a cuddle and a kiss. Of course, this works best for older kids. My 2yo can also understand right now,"No, I'm not doing that right now, but I can hold you for a bit if you would like." Little things like that that can help you control the situation a little better so you can handle it. Also, looking for times when you really feel like you CAN nurse right now and then offering that to them, has been helpful for me. I also find for myself that nursing at night is harder than nursing during the day, so that is usually where I push the most for some relief. The younger babies (like the 1yo) aren't so hard as the closer to 2 and older babies for me. There were at least two children who really had a hard time with limiting the night nursings. I tried so many things, but much had to do with just perseverence and time.
Also, one thing helped very much to keep in mind. I believe the one of the greates gifts my parents gave me were my siblings. We all did have to adjust and make room for each other in many ways while growing up, and I think this process was one of the blessings about having them, and certainly was worth it anyway, for the people who are now in my life. This is just an inherent part of being in a family -- a certain amount of self-sacrifice and constant adjustment to the needs of those around you. Even though new siblings definitely meant a shorter nursing time or more limited nursing for some of my kids, I think that is just part of the adjustment that needed to be made in welcoming this new member, and that the sacrifice is well worth the gains. Just like my kids are working with me and we are all working around the morning sickness right now. Fewer park trips (ok, pretty much no park trips until another couple weeks from now, really), a few more chores, and a greater amount of creativity in occupying themselves around the house are a few of the adjustments they are making because mommy is so tired and not feeling well. The older ones definitely know this is temporary and they are excited for the baby. In fact, I have heard no complaints at all about any of the adjustments that have been needed. They are just taking it as a matter of course. And I do believe that they have a sense, too, of how important they are because they see the kind of sacrifice it takes to bring a new baby into the family... and they know those same sacrifices were made for them. I don't know on what level the younger kids understand any of this, but their attitudes seem to be the same.
Oh, and just a heads up to those mothers who have 15mo, after five kids and lots of friends with babies, something goes on around this age that makes most mommies very tired. I can't remember whether or not I ever read in a book or not, but I have observed that they seem to go through some kind of gowth spurt or other development and it seems like suddenly they start waking up a million times at night no matter how much you nurse and feed them during the day. In any case, if you have a 15mo, try to hang on for the next week or few weeks, and things should calm back down again soon.
Anyway, I'm sorry for rambling so much, it was just fun to happen upon a group of women nursing through pregnancy after having done it myself for so long.
Thanks for starting this thread!