I joyfully shout this inside my head.
I had already shifted my focus to being a tandem nurturer. I partially came up with this term for myself through processing my sadness and disappointment that I probably would not be tandem nursing my children. After realizing the probable source of my daughter’s nose obsession, forced weaning caused by my pregnant body’s refusal to make milk, I wondered “Am I still a breastfeeding mama?” I feared that my nursing relationship with my daughter was ended without me even knowing when.
How many weeks (months?) had gone by without her asking to nurse?
I found myself choosing clothes without having to consider if I could nurse in them or not. I knew I would be thinking about nursing clothes again because of the baby, but I wondered often if somehow I would be able to be a tandem nurser after the birth. I worried that when my milk came back that my daughter wouldn’t have interest, so I was hopeful when she started getting curious from watching all the birth videos. One time before the birth, she asked to nurse, and I found that my aversion was less intense. Despite these positive signs, I questioned whether she would remember how to latch. (She wasn’t that great to begin with.)
The day baby came, I happily nursed when she asked (and made sure to take pictures in case it never happened again), but my worst fears were realized — she couldn’t latch!
She didn’t seem to remember, and when I tried to help it made things worse. My milk didn’t really come in for a week, which didn’t help either. (I think that maybe happened because I wanted to leave baby in the light treatment for jaundice so I didn’t get to hold him much, which stimulates milk production.) She asked to nurse once or so a day, and I still felt a bit of agitation. I was also frustrated and fried (emotionally and literally) from the 24-hr light therapy and the strain of staying positive about baby’s health. I began to think maybe we were both trying, but it just wasn’t going to happen.
Enter the milk.
When my milk came in, I cried inside…again, for joy. I felt relief from worry that I wasn’t going to be able to feed my newborn baby well. Some of my joy came from renewed hope that with actual milk coming out (and forcefully) that my daughter would somehow begin nursing.
My daughter blessed me for my perpetual hope by nursing!
It happened over a few days. I had offered her those few times when there was no milk, so now I knew to just keep quiet and let her do her thing. The first time I offered her milkies when my milk had come in was after baby had nursed both sides pretty well. She latched a bit better than before and even swallowed once, where before she just left her open mouth on there or closed her teeth too much. The second time I offered her milk from one side after baby had nursed one side and I knew the other was full. She continued to latch decently, swallowed a few more times and even got a little lip/mouth motion going, but she wasn’t truly nursing.
The third time, the charm, my daughter latched well, sucked gently and swallowed regularly — she was nursing!
I had gone in and offered milkies when she woke from her nap, and she seemed glad to say yes. I was quietly ecstatic, practically holding my breath to make sure I didn’t break the spell and make her stop. We nursed for about 10 minutes. Such a long time for us! And I had to end it because she was beginning to lose her interest and latch. I decided setting limits were ok, since I felt confident we could build from here. I asked her, unable to contain my excitement, “did you get milkies?” My heart felt joy when she said yes. We got up to leave the bedroom soon after.
As we walked down the hall, holding hands because she wanted to, she said in a cheerful, little voice “I like milkies. I feel better.”
Crying ensued. I practically skipped with her down the hall. I am nursing my newborn son. I am now nursing my two year old daughter. I am grateful for however long this lasts.
I am a tandem nursing mama!
Resources (Of Course!)
- And Then There Were Two (On the verge of triandem nursing!)
- Tandem Nursing: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
- Surviving the Tandem Nursing Aversion (links to couple of updates on her journey)
- The Tandem Mommy (Mothering)
- Nursing Two (Kellymom+Hilary Flowers of Adventures in Tandem Nursing)
- Two Years of Tandem Nursing (links to updates at start, 13 and 18 months)
- Love, Limits and Tandem Nursing (LLL)
- Tandem Nursing for World Breastfeeding Week (BBH)
- My Tandem Adventure (from a mama who had weaned before pregnancy and made the decision after birth to begin nursing her older child again)