I am very conflicted about weaning my DS who is 20 months. I've had a love-hate relationship with our nursing since he was born; he has always been a demanding nurser. Due to situational reasons (me working FTOH, putting limits on it, etc) he has tapered off quite a bit over time, but it has not been on his own will. He still nurses probably 6-8 times a day.
I am 10 weeks pregnant and have already nursed through what was hopefully the worst of the pain, and I'm seeing a major dip in my supply. DS doesn't seem to care if he gets milk or not, and will dry-suck away. Lately, probably due to his developmental age and maybe b/c he senses that nursing is turning into a power struggle, his demands have increased to the point where it is the topic of a tantrum (or several) every day. After months of trying, he has been very resistant to nightwean, but I am usually able to get 8 hours of nurse-free time..it is a battle though. He still wakes up every 3 hours and will ask to nurse in order to sleep, but with enough rocking, walking, and singing he will go back to sleep. So despite nearly nightweaning, I am not getting solid sleep during that time.
I am trying to do the gradual approach to weaning but sometimes I wonder if it is just confusing him and making the process more difficult for both of us. I try to be consistent and give him warnings (like counting to 10 and then we stop, or singing a song and then we stop- he does pretty well with those cues). But sometimes he will nurse and nurse and then still want to nurse and I can't stand the thought of him dry-sucking anymore and I'll tell him all done and he won't have it. Or I'll nurse him at 5:30 am, he'll fall back to sleep, then he'll wake up 15 min. later and want to nurse again and I'll tell him no, then he'll scream and kick and hit.
Ideally I'd like to nurse him until he turns 2 and then he would magically self-wean (ha!) but at this point I'm seeing tandem nursing in my future and my fear is that once baby #2 is born his demands to nurse will increase even more.
When I'm away from DS, my family and DH tell me he is angelic, and as soon as I walk in the door, he throws a temper tantrum if I don't drop everything and nurse him right away (which I usually do, but in those few times I don't, he has a meltdown). He has thrown hour-long tantrums and refused to sleep even after I've nursed him, because I won't give him any more.
I've tried to take the gentle approach to cutting back, but it just seems like a constant battle. I'd love to hear advice, other ideas on maybe where to go from here, etc. If I truly felt that DS needed to nurse for emotional/caloric reasons, I'd be able to easily swallow the resentment and discomfort I often feel when I nurse him. However, it seems to me to be more out of habit, like he doesn't know how to connect with me in any other way but the boob. It was always a clear comfort need in the past, but at this point, I find it hard to believe that he absolutely needs it when he is getting along just fine until I walk in the room.
I nursed DS through pregnancy. He was 3 at the time and our situation was similar to what you are currently going through. In the first months of pregnancy it was very irritating because it was painful and because he was SO demanding and wanting to nurse more than he had before I had gotten pregnant. I suspect the increased need was due to my milk supply dropping and because he sensed at some level that I was now being "shared" with another human being.
As my pregnancy progressed I really appreciated his desire to nurse because that meant I got to sit or lie down and he would be still and quiet. I looked forward to plopping down on the couch and doing nothing while he nursed.
After DD was born I tandem nursed for about 3 months before I decided I needed to wean DS . Tandem nursing was a little tricky and I'll be truthful, it made me want to pull my hair out most of the time BUT it really helped me stay connected with DS when the baby was born and it played a very big role in the bonding between both children.
I don't have any good advice to share, just hang in there and be good to yourself.
That went well and I then tackled daytime. I picked 4 times per day which worked for me to nurse her. To her, I think, it stopped feeling arbitrary and personal and was simply "what is". It all went so well I wished I had done it a little earlier. We gradually went to 3,2,1 and she pretty much self-weaned the last one. She was 2 3/4.
Good luck with whatever you decide to do!