Breastfeeding is a Journey

Breastfeeding is a Journey

(pictured above my current nursling and my daughter Heidi)

I am a mom. I have 4 children, all of whom were (some currently) breastfed.  I am the oldest of 5 children that were breastfed. In the end, you really don’t know what you think you know about breastfeeding. And this is my journey.

I exclusively breastfed my first baby, Graeme, for 7 months, and then I weaned him. I was working full time and I was having a hard time pumping and neither my husband or I had the knowledge or support system to continue any longer. My husband thought he shouldn’t be nursed to sleep, and I wasn’t knowledgable enough to defend my case. So I stopped. Graeme was rattled with ear infections after that and ended up with tubes in his ears at 18 months. Ouch. Lesson learned, and hindsight is 20/20.

My next baby came along when my son was 2.5 years old. This little girl was my pivot point, and just as spirited then as she is 5 years later. I exclusively breastfed Heidi and when the time came at 3 months to go back to work, I sent her to day care for 9 hours every day with several bottles of breastmilk. She refused the bottle. She refused the bottle forever. Sooo, she made me work. I did research. And lo and behold, there is this thing called reverse cycling. I fed her when she woke, I fed her when I dropped her off at day care, when I could get away, I would come and feed her at lunch, I would pump during the day, I would feed her when I picked her up, and then we would nurse LOTS during the night. We did this until I quit working 9 months later. We did add some solids around 7-8 months as her weight had hit a plateau, but she was only moderately interested in them. Her doctor was very supportive and not worried. Eventually weight began to increase slowly. I am thankful to my stubborn, bottle refusing girl, because she made me her only source of food, and I rose to the tiring, very inconvenient challenge. She taught me that I am enough, and we CAN work out our challenges. She continued nursing until she was 25 months – I was pregnant with my 3rd and my milk had pretty much dried up.

I had my third baby 2 months after Heidi weaned. I was a little sad about her weaning because we had made it so long and I was hoping she would help with those early weeks of engorgement. I even offered to nurse Heidi after the baby came, but she didn’t remember how.  So much for tandem nursing. I exclusively nursed #3 (Kaatje) until she was about 12 months. Until that point, she just didn’t have any interest in foods. I would make her a plate with the rest of the family, but she preferred to nurse.

I had my 4th son when Kaatje was 34 months old and she was still nursing. My milk dried up a lot towards the end of my pregnancy, so we were only nursing for a few minutes a couple times a day. I was excited to be able to embark on the tandem nursing experience, even if I felt like Kaatje was almost weaned. Oh boy, was I wrong…my milk came in and Kaatje turned into a newborn!! Whenever the baby was being fed, Kaatje decided that she should be too. “Why is baby having milkies? I want milkies too!” So, thankfully I have two breasts that produce ample milk, as Kaatje claimed one to herself and the baby got the other one.  For the first few weeks, Kaatje went on a total food strike and started coming in at midnight to nurse. At first, I nursed her, thinking that this wouldn’t continue, but after a month, this double newborn thing really took its toll. My husband was not supportive of this (neither was I), but thankfully he put his foot down and started putting her back to bed. She stopped waking up so early and doesn’t come in now until around 6 am. That, I can handle as the baby sleeps with us and I don’t like being sandwich in between two nursers…it’s too tiring. Mamas of twins (+) I commend you!!

So, here we are 6 months into tandem nursing, and the baby is doing great. He was my best latcher! With all the others I had cracked, bleeding nipples, but not so with him (sooo thankful!). However, Kaatje would prefer to nurse than eat and still wants to nurse whenever she sees the baby nursing. She has a good relationship with the baby as long as the nursing is equitable, so I am continuing to let her self-wean. There are many times that I enjoy our nursing time, and I like to cuddle her. She has beautiful brown eyes that always appear very thankful when she is being held in my arms.  I struggle.  She asks to nurse a lot and throws quite large fits when she can’t – like when I am trying to make a meal for everyone or the baby is asleep in a carrier on my back. I try to accommodate when I can, but to be honest, sometimes I don’t feel like nursing her. She isn’t ready to wean, but sometimes I am.  My husband’s support is there, but waning.

If Heidi taught me anything about breastfeeding it is that I shouldn’t give up. So, this is my ongoing journey. This is my new adventure….this is what tandem nursing looks like for me…sweetness.

My two nurslings

My two nurslings

 

 

 

 

 

 

~ Abbie

Tags: attachment parenting, attachment parenting international, baby, Breastfeeding, breastmilk, ear infections, reverse cycling, tandem nursing

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