Saturday, January 18

The Land of Crazy

When I was 32 weeks pregnant and TT was 32 months old I thought I had entered The Land of the Crazy.

I was (am) a member of a tandem breastfeeding on-line support group and I remember shortly after I had the above thought someone posted asking if they were crazy for wanting to tandem nurse.  Being a support group the overwhelming response was "no"; but it was so reassuring to see someone else expressing feelings about being crazy to want to tandem nurse.

Technically tandem nursing starts when you are breastfeeding while pregnant; and carries on as long as you are nursing more than one child.

So it's out there now.  I am still nursing TT.  Yes, at nearly 3 years old; 42-inches and 50 pounds TT is still nursing.  I think many people who know me assume this; but unless you are in my inner circle you didn't know this as a fact.

When I started out nursing TT I had no idea how long we would nurse.  At first I set small milestones - 6 months, 12 months, 18 months.  Then I thought it would be cool if we made it to two years.

Shortly after TT turned two we found out we were expecting our next bundle of baby joy; and we let nature take her course, knowing that tandem nursing promotes sibling bonding while reducing sibling rivalry.  It seemed like a win-win situation.

Nursing during pregnancy was interesting; there were times I was certain TT was going to wean - only to be proven wrong.  While I was pregnant, I was away from him on several multi-night occasions; and seeing he was only nursing morning and night then each time I was away was an opportunity for him to decide he was done nursing.  (Clearly, we are following child-lead weaning.)  Once I was gone for a weekend camping trip for Cub Scouts with RR and once I was on a business trip.  Neither time did I feel like I was loosing my milk supply and neither time did I get engorged.  The business trip was so far along in my pregnancy; I actually did not have a milk supply.

Yes, you can nurse when you have no milk.  It's called comfort nursing and it is very typical for this to occur when you're pregnant.  For most women, their milk supply dries up around 20 weeks; as it did for me.  And then a few weeks later your colostrum comes in; again  as it did for me.

Dry nursing was painful.  Not childbirth painful; but more painful than a splinter.

Actually a lot of time it was painful to nurse while pregnant.  Those damn hormones.

So you ask; why do it?  Why not wean?  For the above reasons; and because it was our special time and part of TT's daily routine.

Thankfully, I did not experience any nursing aversions.  This is when the mom dreads nursing, she may become sick to her stomach, her skin gets a creepy crawly feeling.  Honestly, if I had experienced any of those signs I am not sure what would have happened.

When we were dry nursing and my colostrum was just starting to come in TT was done to nursing once a day; and then he was nursing every other day.  And I was OK if he weaned.  I really wanted to tandem nurse, but this was about him and I had made peace with the possibility of weaning.  But he didn't.

When ERP was born and had to be taken to the nursery for monitoring and I was still trying to deliver that stubborn placenta (I still owe you that story) I called out to Husband "don't let them give him formula"; and when Husband came back and needed colostrum for ERP I was easily able to hand express 2 ounces in a small medicine cup.  The hospital staff was outwardly impressed and I was beaming with pride; knowing I could produce so much and internally I thanked TT because I knew it was his nursing that had my system running so well so soon.

The first time I tamden nursed was the next day in the hospital; when my mom brought the Big Boys to see me.  TT was doing his best toddler nursing gymnastics; stretching his leg as high up to the ceiling as he could while looking around the room.  My mom laughed at us.  ERP happily chugged away.

Having my mom laughing at the humor in that situation helped.  She had asked a few times before ERP came along when we were going to wean TT, glad to see she has come to accept the extended nursing relationship.  And obviously Husband is a huge help and supporter and finds humor in all of it as well.

So here we are.  ERP is over 6 weeks old and both boys are happily nursing.  ERP is (obviously nursing 12 times a day - but honestly, I don't really keep track) and TT is nursing 3 to 6 times a day (depending on the day).  Sometimes they nurse together.  Most of the time they nurse separately.

When they nurse at the same time; it is so sweet.  TT likes to hold ERP's hand or stroke his head.  But it is also a challenge.  Sometimes I feel like a dairy cow; especially when TT is trying to see just how far my breast will stretch.  Sometimes I feel a little "touched out".  But most of the time, it is totally relaxing.  To hold and nourish 2 out of 3 boys at one time; the amount of love I feel is incredible.  I feel so at peace with the world, so complete, so blessed.  (OK, it's probably has to do with the super dose of oxytocian being released.)  It truly seems like a miracle.

When the boys nurse individually I am relaxed and calm and cherish my time alone with them.  When TT is done nursing he tells me "Gene's boobies"; indicating he knows his turn is over and he is sharing with ERP.  I love this.

Yup.... I entered the Land of Crazy, I am tamden nursing and I love it.


EricaG said...

I guess I'm a fellow citizen. ;) I've been nursing for 8 years and almost 6 months. Hard to believe! Charlotte is having a little trouble sharing her nursing time, but so far so good. Enjoy the tandem relationship!

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