Surrounded by Love
Jamesville NY USA
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 24 No. 3, May-June 2007, pp. 106-107
When my daughter, Isabella, was born in 2001, we began our breastfeeding journey. We had many ups and downs. In the beginning I never thought I would continue nursing past a year, but Isabella developed a serious illness at eight months old and it took six months of seeing specialists, undergoing tests, and trying various treatments before we had a diagnosis. Through it all, I continued to nurse her. For most of that six-month period, she ate nothing but my milk but still lost a substantial amount of weight. Once we were on the road to regaining her health, I never thought about weaning. Nursing had become an integral part of our relationship and I decided to continue breastfeeding as long as Isabella needed to.
When my son, Joey, was born in 2004, Isabella and I were still nursing. We had struggled through my nausea and painful nipples due to pregnancy and worked out our own solutions. These included limiting nursing, partial night weaning, rules about touching the other breast, and sometimes just snuggling instead of nursing. Because she was almost three when Joey was born, Isabella was at an age where I could reason and negotiate nursing times with her, which helped in finding ways to meet her need to nurse and my need for comfort. I also read Hilary Flower's book, ADVENTURES IN TANDEM NURSING (order this book online at www.llli.org or call 800-LALECHE), and found it full of helpful and reassuring information.
One problem arose after Joey's birth for which I couldn't find a ready answer in any book. How could I nurse both my children simultaneously without being in a sitting position? Joey was a very large baby (over 10 pounds) and I had many perineal stitches, which left me unable to sit comfortably for weeks.
I tried more negotiations with my daughter, but she was understandably much less reasonable after her brother's birth. She wanted her mommy; of course she did not want to be told she had to wait. However, the prospect of nursing them simultaneously to sleep sounded wonderful. This drove me to find a solution.
I would lie on my back in the middle of our bed with a pillow under my head and a pillow under my knees. Then I would push a thick, firm pillow up close to me on each side. I would first bring the baby up on one pillow at my side, roll slightly to that side, and latch him on. His tummy would be against my side and his little legs would be across my belly. Then I would roll mostly back to a flat position and invite my daughter to latch onto the other side while lying on the other pillow. I would often add yet another pillow to help support her head high enough that she didn't pull on my breast. My arms would be around my children.
This solution worked beautifully most of the time. The children could see and touch each other. Big sister could get to know little brother. And as he grew, there were times when the nursing would erupt in giggles from both of them.
They would often hold hands and, in the afternoon, they usually drifted off to sleep. Sometimes I would fall asleep, too, securely holding both of them in my arms. The occasional problems included plugged ducts on my baby's side from the side of his head being pressed against my breast. Massage and careful attention to positioning would solve this for me. Also, sometimes they would fall asleep and I would want to use the time to get something done in the house but be unable to extricate myself from the pillows and children surrounding me. My husband would come home to find me in complete darkness stuck under children on the bed. It was pretty funny and is a fond memory now. I even managed to read sometimes with a free hand!
Now that my daughter is five and weaned, we are looking forward to the birth of baby number three in two months and the new nursing adventures to come.