Monday, December 13, 2010

MY adventures in tandem nursing.

December 9, 2010- First time nursing both girls at the same time.
Lucy at 15 months, June at 2 days old.
(Sorry for the crappy editing, but I didn't want to give everyone an eyeful!)

For those who read my blog regularly, you already knowing the following. For those who don't, a little background:
I became pregnant with June when Lucy was six months old and just starting solids. I was very proud of the fact that she was a breastmilk-only baby, and I both knew with my brain and felt with my heart that we were not ready (physically or emotionally) to wean. With the go-ahead from my midwife, Lucy continued to nurse throughout my pregnancy. We managed to avoid formula altogether until she was over 10 months old, at which point both my supply and my freezer stash had dwindled and we needed to supplement. It was incredibly difficult for me and gave me a new understanding for moms who desire to breastfeed but struggle with it.

To make a long story short, we fought through supply issues related to pregnancy, morning sickness so bad I lost almost 15 lbs., the "creepy crawlies" that are impossible for anyone other than a pregnant breastfeeding mom to understand, and overall tenderness that had me struggling to let her latch. By the morning before June's birth, Lucy was still nursing twice a day (morning and night), but my patience was wearing thin. I desperately wanted to at least offer Lucy the chance to continue breastfeeding, but didn't know if she would even want to once my milk came in.

So I was very, very nervous after June was born to see how Lucy would react. On Wednesday morning (about 16 hours after June was born), my mom brought Lucy to the hospital to visit, where Lucy saw me nursing her little sister and immediately wanted to be held. I handed June to my mom, Lucy was put on my bed, and I hesitantly offered Lucy my breast. She latched on, and was so surprised to get milk! She nursed for a few minutes, stopped, and looked up and smiled at me before getting back to business. That smile meant the world to me, and made all those months of uncomfortable nursing worth it.

Since then, I have nursed the girls simultaneously several times- not something I planned to do, but it's so beautiful to me to see them together like that. Lucy is going down for naps (and sometimes bed) without a pre-sleep bottle, and I definitely think it is helping her to feel secure in her role in our family. She's not being replaced- there is room for both my girls at mama's breast.

And in case anyone is wondering, my body is definitely responding as though I was nursing twins (that's what all the books I read and lactation consultants I talked to predicted). Unlike most newborns, June didn't have to wait for my milk to come in- it came in immediately. That really helped in making those early days of breastfeeding a lot easier. Even with nursing both girls I have to pump several times a day- I'm stocking the freezer already, and as a full-time working mom, that makes me feel so much better about going back to work! So if you're currently pregnant and nursing, take heart- it may very well be worth it in the end, and I'm definitely grateful that I stuck with it.


Kacie said...

I'm so glad that it's working well for you all! My son weaned at 18m because my supply tanked (pregnant related no doubt) and it hurt because of the hormones. I was quickly getting resentful.

Emily said...

I totally understand, Kacie. Had Lucy been older, I would have likely let it go. I think it's important to note that the breastfeeding relationship is about TWO people: mama and baby. If it's not working for one of them, something needs to change.

Jenny said...

Glad to read that it's going well for you, because right now I'm trying to keep Ivey nursing at least once a day until the baby is born. There's very little milk, it hurts, and for some reason she (and Suzi did this too) leaves teeth prints in me. I guess they do that just trying to get more milk out, but it's aggravating! I didn't tandem nurse with Suzi, but she was older, and this time I really want to.

Denise said...

Emily, I am SOSOSO happy it's been so wonderful so far! This is what I was hoping and praying for you. I know this pregnaancy was not expected, but was very welcomed by you, and yet I know your mother's heart did not want Lucy to suffer any loss from it. It sounds like you have been able to redeem it all and MORE with the joy of nursing her again and her delighting in it. The picture brought tears to my eyes!

You know, even though I know Elyana and I were both ready to finish breastfeeding at 18 months (well, I was a little more than her, but she quickly was ready), I still was always sorry I was done. Sorry, and glad. Isn't that weird? I am thinking with the next one to try to aim a little longer (perhaps 20 months) and then reevaluate, of course. I never know what will happen, but it's always good I think to aim high.

I wish I could see June, smell her sweet baby skin, and hold her. I'll just suffice with your pictures so post A LOT!

Megan said...

How wonderful, Emily! I'm so happy that tandem nursing is working for you and your girls. This is such a sweet account of your experience as well. That big smile Lucy gave you when she first nursed after June was born made me tear up. Too sweet. And what a relief. I know this post will bring comfort to other women who are struggling with breastfeeding and pregnancy.