"I've had more nausea this time around and found it more difficult with a toddler to take care of. The nipple sensitivity has been one of the most difficult things, as I am still nursing Charlotte every couple of hours. Nursing is still very important to her. I believe that is important nutritionally as well as emotionally. I really can't imagine that she will want to wean any time soon. I don't force her to nurse by any means, it is just natural and instinctive for both of us. The transition to nursing while pregnant has been a bit more difficult than I anticipated."
January 30, 2010 (from my journal)
Breastfeeding is what I do. For hours and hours, every day. It is an investment of my time and energy and emotions. It is also a joy.
Breastfeeding Charlotte was not always easy at first. We had to work on latch and I dealt with blisters at the beginning. I was hospitalized when she was a week and a half because of my gall bladder and she had to go to formula and then back to breastfeeding. In the hospital, when I was with it and not drugged up, breastfeeding Charlotte was pretty much all I cared about and I just wanted to be with her. All the time. It must have been heartbreaking for my mom, as she stayed with me.
Breastfeeding Charlotte through toddler-hood just made sense for us. It grounds her, it connects us in a pretty profound way. When I was pregnant with Lila, sometimes it was painful and irritating. Sometimes I needed a break and so she snuggled with her dad so I could rest. The only deficiency in my blood tests was low calcium and so I took another supplement and tried to drink more milk. There were times when I questioned myself and worried about the future, but I just decided to take it a day at a time. And I was right, as my journal writing indicated... she was not ready to wean at all!
My feeling surrounding Lila's birth were all over the place really! I was ecstatic to meet our new baby! I was psyched to try the hypno-birthing breathing techniques for labour! I was terrified about leaving Charlotte and missed her incredibly, even while in the midst of strong labour. I was overwhelmed with the thought of having two children.
Lila took a bit to adjust to nursing. Almost every nurse in the maternity ward blamed her fussiness of the fact that I was tandem nursing. The funny thing was, Charlotte didn't nurse when I was in the hospital. I was producing a lot of colostrum, but Lila still wasn't full (I don't think, in retrospect). I thought my milk had come in, due to the abundance of colostrum, but it didn't come in until a few days later. I felt concerned, when really, she was just a newborn, trying to get her milk. I nursed them separately for the first bit, as I had to work with Lila on her latch. She got it, and then I tried to nurse both girls together. It was overwhelming at first, but soon I cherished those moments of nursing both girls, especially in the evening. I could close my eyes and take a deep breath. I knew the jealousy would pass. (And it did, after two weeks.) It took a while to find a comfortable position for nursing both girls and it has changed over time, as both girls have grown. We know what works best now.
I felt so many things. I still have so many feelings, every day. I feel overwhelmed at times and full of contentment too. Some of my favorite times in the day are when I snuggle up with either Lila and/or Charlotte and nurse. Lila loves to grab my hand with hers while she is nursing and wants that affection and touch. They almost always hold hands when they are nursing together. Charlotte makes Lila smile every time she walks by. She makes a clicking noise with her tongue when she hears Lila crying (sometimes even in the middle of the night when she is half asleep) because she knows that Lila likes that sound. Lila adores her big sister. We were laying in bed this morning, Charlotte sound asleep, Lila gurgling and wiggling around, trying to look at her sleeping sister with a huge smile and squeal. The bond they share runs deep and strong.
Life is full, difficult and beautiful. Breastfeeding my two daughters makes me happy. Breastfeeding enhances the production of oxytocin, a hormone that physically makes you feel happier. And goodness, this happiness feeling is (and has been) really important to me, to my making it through the hard, exhausting days. I think it's okay that breastfeeding benefits my children, but it also is beneficial for me. Breastfeeding two also has contributed to weight loss and a healthier diet as I try and remember to eat healthy for three. Breast milk provides nutrients and an immunity boost to both of my girls.
Emotions are a tricky thing postpartum and how I have been feeling through tandem nursing has it's ups and downs. I feel thankful that I can do this and provide nutrition to my 2 and a half year old as well as my 5 month old. It is a blessing.