Wednesday, May 30, 2012

4 months in: the good/hard



Welcome to the Carnival of Tandem Nursing
This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Tandem Nursing hosted by Mommying My Way. Our participants have shared their personal stories of the highs the lows and information on what to expect if tandeming is in your future. Please read to the end of each post to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
 
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Many of you know that I currently have two nurselings:  one is a bubbly dark-haired 4 month old girl who coos and giggles and is just learning to roll over; one is a busy blonde haired 21 month old boy who talks and runs and jumps and climbs and can manoeuvre an ipad like he works for Apple.

There are moments when I am so glad to be nursing both of my children - love the closeness of all of us, mouths full of milk when my babies stop nursing to smile at each other, the luxury of caring for two little ones while sitting on the couch.

AND,

There are moments when I am pretty much done being touched for the day by noon, when Saf tries to slowly roll his body across his sister while he nurses next to her, or she won't stop grabbing his hair and concentrate on the task at hand - and I'm feeling insanely parched listening to them both glug liquids with no one serving me a beverage.

Like most worthwhile things in life, tandem nursing is good/hard.

A friend recently described my son as a weather system.  He has his own atmosphere, and he takes it wherever he goes.  He is tightly wound, energetic, emotional, bright, spirited, strong-willed, vocal.  He puts our gentle parenting desires to the test daily while simultaneously filling us with joy.  I knew when he was young that I would need our nursing relationship to parent him well when he was a toddler.  Saf does benefit from the immunological properties of the milk and he is generally quite healthy and robust.  But he also benefits from the connection, the 'reset' button that is us together, the way nursing brings a gentle amnesia to the tension that can build between a new mama and a frustrated little guy trying to figure out how the world goes 'round.

When we became pregnant, our Safran wasn't even nine months old, still such a baby.  He was nursing every two hours day and night, just barely eating solid food and relying on "nai-nai" for emotional needs as well.  Weaning sounded like a tougher road than tandem nursing.


I'm amazed at how easy the transition into "big brother" has been, even at just 17 months.  I had thought during the pregnancy he was understanding that there was a "baby in mama's tummy" but to this day everytime he sees a belly button he yells, "baby!!"  Mhm.  Regardless, he LOVES his little sister.  He was curious in their first moments together, sharing milk when she was 5 hours old and today he's enamored.  He heard her voice on the baby monitor, "Boobee up!  Me Me!!!" and he came with me to find her.  He wanted her unwrapped, but to stay on the bed with him while we read "The Cat in the Hat" again.  She giggles just seeing him, kicking her little legs. 



The first weeks after Jubilee's birth were spent on the couch.  If you asked me what I did that day I would have said, "I nursed my children."  But as Saf adjusted to Jubilee's presence he would insist less on simultaneously nursing every single time she had milk, although we still usually do a few times a day.  It's gotten easier as Jubilee has grown and we no longer need pillows to help us all stay comfortable. 

With one nurseling, my supply easily matched my child's need.  Occasionally Safran would need more and he'd nurse more and then there'd be the perfect amount again.  This time around my supply is having more difficulty figuring out what my children need.  Jubilee is only recently seeming like she can really handle the rate at which my milk flows, and the amount that I produce.  In the first months she was done feeding within a few minutes and unable to comfort suck because the milk kept coming she would struggle in the evenings with tummy pain.  If she succeeded at nursing for comfort she would often do massive vomits because of simply too much milk in her tummy.  I never had this problem with Saf, who could have nursed all day and all night without any trouble.  At 12 weeks I started to use a pacifier in the evenings to help her with tummy pain and she immediately relaxed.   Just now, at 4 1/2 months, she seems to have a handle on my supply and is starting to comfort nurse as she falls asleep. 

Sometimes I'm tired, touched-out and frustrated at the dishes and laundry that pile up while caring for two nurslings.  But then I watch the way she smiles at him as they nurse together.  She reaches out her hands to him and touches his hair and he always looks astonished, as if he's taking note of her changing and growing up.  There's an affection and trust present that I hope remains throughout their sibling-friendship, and I'm sure that when they are older they'll lovingly and joyfully work together on the dishes and laundry.

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  • My Tandem Nursing Journey: Jenny at I'm a full-time mummy is sharing her tandem nursing journey so far...
  • Built for Two: No matter how much you read and plan, things may not always go as you expect. A few things that Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy wished she knew when she was planning to tandem feed her toddler and newborn.
  • Tandem Nursing - Magic Cure?: Jorje of Momma Jorje had high expectations of tandem nursing easing her toddler daughter's transition from being the baby to being a big sister.
  • Mutually Desirable - Navigating a Tandem Nursing Experience: Amy Willa at www.amywilla.com talks about limit setting and meditations that help her navigate an intense tandem nursing experience.
  • My Adventure in Tandem Nursing: Alicia at Lactation Narration tells her story of nursing her daughter through pregnancy and then tandem nursing.
  • 4 months in: the good/hard: Becca at Exile Fertility writes about the joys and struggles of having two nurslings 17 months apart.
  • Tandem Nursing: One at a Time: When tandem nursing resulted in a nursing aversion, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children looked for ways to meet everyone's needs.
  • Why Nurse a 4 Year Old?: One of the questions Dionna at Code Name: Mama keeps getting is, "but why breastfeed a four year old? What are the benefits?" Today she answers that question.
  • My Hurt Feelings: Shannon at The Artful Mama shares how her first son reacted to nursing after the birth of his brother and the gift she received the last time he nursed.
  • Carnival of Tandem Nursing: A Letter To Myself 7 Years Ago: Dulce de leche shares the advice and reassurance that she would have given to herself if she could go back in time.
  • Nursing Both My Babies: Cassie at There’s a Pickle in my Lifeshares her experience with nursing and transitioning into tandem nursing. She also gives tips for struggles.
  • Our Tandem Nursing Journey: Kim at Life-is-Learning describes her journey into tandem nursing and why it is important to her.
  • Based on her own experience, Lauren at Hobo Mama dishes about the benefits and downsides to nursing multiple children.

7 comments:

  1. Hi Becca!
    Thanks for dropping by my blog! I agree with you that having support from family is important but for me, own mental strength is the key! Hope you'll have a wonderful journey in tandem nursing, just take it one day at a time!

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  2. "Like most worthwhile things in life, tandem nursing is good/hard." Such a good reminder for me that if I choose to tandem nurse, it could be hard, it will be good, but most of all it will be worthwhile! Thanks so much for sharing your story!

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    1. yes, i'm enjoying it more than i imagined, but it might be easier because both of mine are still quite young and i realy NEED to for my own survival. reading the other posts helped me to identify some other feelings as well though, which was helpful. thanks for hosting the carnival!

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  3. So beautifully expressed! I love the way you clearly showed the good/hard aspects of tandeming. You rock, mama! :)

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    1. thanks - loved your post! just left a comment!

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  4. And then there were 4February 6, 2013 at 7:15 AM

    I think I've read most of your posts that seem related to tandem nursing. I have a 10 month old and am expecting another in 8 months so your posts were helpful. One question, how did you handle the nursing through the pregnancy?

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    1. thanks for stopping by! congratulations on your new pregnancy! nursing through pregnancy had its ups and downs for me. A few things that helped me:
      1. taking it one day at a time, or even one nursing session at a time
      2. when my supply started to drop when my son requested to nurse I'd first offer water or a snack and often he was actually hungry/thirsty
      3. setting good boundaries around nursing times when it was uncomfortable, like shorter sessions and for a few months my husband did almost all of the night time care so that i could sleep
      It's tough when you're pregnant and still have a baby to take care but i did find nursing through pregnancy made taking care of the baby easier than if I had weaned him early on. At 2 1/2 and 13 months we are still going strong. I hope it goes well for you! Also, "Adventures in Tandem Nursing" is a great resource. Heaps of info and lots of other moms who make you feel normal! -becca

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