Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tandem Nursing, a labor of love

this is my family. I'm the baby, held by my mother, sitting in front of her mother, standing beside her mother, standing behind her mother.
     Nursing  isn't something that is "out of the norm" or something that was an original idea for me to do. I come from a long line of breastfeeding mommies. I'm proud to say that my mom nursed me, her mom nursed her, her mom nursed my grandmother and you can go back to the beginning of time that makes me very proud.

 I remember when Isaiah was born i couldn't wait to nurse him. I dreamt of it all the time while pregnant. Breastfeeding was something i was robbed of with my 3rd child, so i could not wait for the chance to nurse again. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR!! Isaiah was a born boob-aholic! So for 2 years solid i nursed that boy every time he wanted ( which was a lot of all nighters and all day too ). I knew that he was not in any way going to be ready to wean when the new baby came along. So, i decided that i would nurse both of my babies. As i talked about this with my friends who had tandem nursed i heard and read  mixed  reviews. Some hated it, some didn't mind, and others liked it. I still remember the first time i saw a woman nursing 2 children at one time, that were obviously not twins. I couldn't stop staring, watching her like she was some sort of freakshow. I wasn't gonna ever do that....lol now I'm the freak show!

I couldn't wait to nurse both my babies. I thought about it alot. As my belly got bigger and Isaiah had to adjust his nursing style accordingly I kept thinking " This is good! he's making room for baby!"

 The day baby came nursing was a huge part of them meeting for the first time. Isaiah was so confused when he woke up with all the action going on around him in our room. He just screamed...and screamed...and screamed...James brought him to me when i was ready and i nursed him in the quiet while he looked at his new brother.  As he nursed he looked at this tiny person his mommy was holding and was able to take his time while being comforted and feeling secure.  It was a wonderful way to introduce the baby into our lives.

When the morning came hours later, i got a chance to nurse them both for the first time! It took a few minutes to figure it out. But, we got the hang of it pretty quick! For the first few weeks while daddy was off of work it was pretty easy to handle.  most of the time i would nurse one, then the other. only at nap or bed time did i nurse both at the same time.


I haven't had any trouble with milk supply at all.  Having Isaiah around when my milk came in was so great. I was making so much milk because of nursing 2 babies full time ( and yes, Isaiah has pretty much gone back to full time nursing ) that i was more milk filled boobs then anything else! They took over my body! I know in the picture they may not look that big to others but for me they were huge!  One night, probably when Gideon was about a week old, i woke up in a river of milk and i still felt like i was going to explode. If you have never felt this before, it hurts. I knew there was no way Gideon was going to be able to take care of this, so, i woke up Isaiah. He nursed till he was full and i was STILL way to full, so, it was time to wake up daddy. He happily helped out. I know for some that may sound really weird, but, i didn't want to end up with blocked ducts or mastitis. The few times i have had a blocked duct my secret weapon has been James.  He doesn't mind taking one for the team ;) and its pretty much the only time he gets to touch my boobs in those first few weeks. All in all i was really enjoying nursing both baby boys a lot. I loved that it forced me to still hold Isaiah and see him for the baby he still is. I love watching him look at his little brother nursing, touching him and getting to know him over a great shared meal :) I was really riding the birth high and i couldn't figure out why anyone really wouldn't like tandem nursing.....
                                        Then Daddy went back to work.

 After Daddy was back at work it got a lot harder. If Isaiah wanted to nurse or comfort, i had to nurse him. If he had to wait, he cried. And not a " wah wah give me what i want" kind of cry, but a cry that said " INEED YOU! Why are you doing this to me?? Cant you understand i need you?" it was heart breaking. It was hard. Gideon is not the type of nursling that wants to nurse all.the.time. Isaiah was/is. If i try to nurse Gideon when he doesn't want it, he yells and screams" GET YOUR BOOB OUT OF MY FACE!" Gideon likes to eat and then for me to put him on my shoulder and bounce him till he falls asleep. Isaiah hates this because it means that i have to stop Isaiah while he is nursing so i can stand up and bounce Gideon. Most of the time Isaiah pouts a bit and then gets over it, and sometimes, on very bad days, he screams. I have put Isaiah in the sling and nursed him on one side while bouncing Gideon on the other side, i have stood next to the couch with Isaiah standing on the couch nursing while i bounce Gideon. I spend most nights rolling from side to side nursing the boys.  to be honest, Isaiah nurses more at night then Gideon does. Most nights Gideon is happy to just touch his lips to my chest and he falls right back to sleep. There have been a few nights both wanted to nurse at the same time and i have felt very spent and tired and frustrated. There have been days where i have been able to do nothing but feed children. I'm so thankful i can call James on those days and he will either bring dinner home or take everyone else( minus the new baby ) out and go eat so i can have some quiet ( because if i have had a hard day there is no way i want to leave the house ).

  So why don't i quit. Why don't i wean Isaiah? Because he needs me still. He needs his nu-nu's desperately. and Yes it is draining. No, i do not always enjoy it. But, he's worth it. I see soo many positives to still nursing him. He has no digestive issues. When he eats, he is a good eater. He is so healthy. And, he loves his little brother. He doesn't mind sharing. I love watching the boys look at each other. My favorite time of the day is nap time. On most days i take both little boys upstairs to bed. I sit on the bed and nurse them both to sleep. Gideon is now old enough that he is starting to use his hands just a little bit to explore the world around him, and Isaiah's hair is his favorite thing to explore :) though Isaiah isn't such a fan of this. I love watching them both fall asleep. Sometimes they hold hands or Isaiah will rub Gideons head. Its very sweet. Those are the moments that make it all worth it for me. Last week we celebrated World Breastfeeding Week. Our local breastfeeding group put on a fantastic photo shoot of nursing Mommies. Here are my photos.

 Nursing one baby makes me feel special, nursing 2 babies makes me feel so blessed. I have been able to nurse both boys without any issue. My supply is plenty for both boys. I love that i can meet their needs both nutritionally and emotionally! Yes sometimes it feels like a little ( okay a LOT ) much when Isaiah wants to nurse all day ( some days i wish the word "nu-nus" would disappear!! ). But i know in my heart I'm doing the right thing for him. Its not easy. Its not always fun. But i know its best for my boys.....
            and i enjoy being a freak show :)