I have been breastfeeding on-demand for the last twenty-nine months, and I am now two and a half months into tandem nursing.
There have been challenges, but for the most part I am loving this moment in our lives. I was initially a little overwhelmed, right after W was born, by how much more J wanted to nurse all of a sudden. A precocious toddler, his nursing had trailed off quite a bit during my pregnancy, and for months he had been sleeping straight through the night with no "mammo". Once the new baby arrived, though, there was a huge increase in milk, and obviously new family dynamics, and all of the forces combined to create a big uptick in J's desire to nurse and be held by me. I wanted to hold him too, but of course with a newborn on the scene I felt a much stronger desire to prioritize nursing the baby. That tension -- the wanting to provide my second child with everything he needs without pushing the older one aside -- has been the hardest thing to navigate. It has been very emotional for all of us, and it has often meant a literal juggling act takes place in my lap, and that has been taxing to me at times. At the same time, we have all developed a certain rhythm and as we grow together it has become apparent to me what a valuable role my nursing relationship with J has played in making the transition to big-brotherhood. Our bond remains strong (in some ways stronger than ever) and the two brothers are able to connect and bond in an amazing and beautiful way through tandem nursing.
On the days when I feel overwhelmed or tired of constantly giving of myself in this way, I try to remember how fleeting this stage is in the grand scheme of things. Soon enough my babies will be running around with agendas that have absolutely nothing to do with me, so I must cherish this phase and recognize that it will not go on forever. Most of the time, when one baby starts to cry and then the other takes that as a cue to chime in and ask for mammo too, when I'm leaking milk like crazy all over my blouse, when they both fall asleep on me and I can't move to go on about my day without causing them to stir, I just have to laugh at the sweet absurdity of how important the boobies are to these little guys.
And then I don't mind sharing them for a while more.
NOTE: The photos in this post were taken last week by my friend Lauren Colas, who is working on an incredible project documenting families that nurse for longer than is the cultural norm. If you are interested in learning more about her work, or if you would like to participate in the project, contact Lauren at email@example.com.
ALSO: For more information on breastfeeding, including tandem nursing and breastfeeding older babies and children, I highly recommend reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International.