Two funny stories
One: About a year ago, I was courted to be a mommy blogger. For real! Like, for money. Lololololol. And I wrote some things, emails stopped, payment never came, etc. I moved on to other things, like having another baby and moving across the country. But I have these funny sort of clickbait-y posts hanging around in my Google Drive that I see every now and then. Titles like, “10 Things You Can Do While Babywearing”, “Why I Vaccinate My Baby (And Why You Should, Too)”, and “5 Things To Consider Before Tandem Nursing”. That last one becomes important with the next little vignette.
Two: When I became pregnant with Georgie, I experienced horrible nursing aversion and agitation when breastfeeding Winnie. I didn’t have enough energy to parent without the boob in my first trimester (seriously, the boob + B6 + magnesium + Daniel Tiger saved me), but in my second, we tried gentle weaning (weaning while cosleeping is no joke, y’all!). Our timing worked out, Winnie was fine with it, and she weaned in three days, with few tears. I was a little sad, but it felt right.
Georgie is now nearly eight months old. She is just mad about food, and eats three meals a day. Like, full meals. And now, at the age of two-and-a-half, Winnie has decided she needs to nurse again. And I am sort of fine with it. I’m not going to say things like, “You’re a big kid, and big kids don’t nurse” because I don’t believe that. She’s been sick, and she’s going through some HUGE developmental changes right now (she’s been getting herself fully dressed, her verbal skills have gotten crazy, and her physical coordination is growing by leaps and bounds), and it’s comforting to her. It’s funny because she’s asked to nurse about once a week ever since she weaned– I didn’t want for it to be a point of contention, and frankly it wasn’t that I didn’t want her to nurse occasionally, just that hormonally I couldn’t handle the constant nursing– and I always gave her a nonchalant, “sure”. She would start to latch, and then sort of laugh, and say, “No, thank you!” Except then one day she didn’t. So here we are. Tandem nursing after a year of being weaned and eight months with a little sister.
It’s… fine. She needs it, and I’m fine with it. Her ability to understand bodies and boundaries has grown significantly, and I’m confident she’ll understand when it’s time for me to stop. She’ll probably hate it, sure, but she’ll get it. And from that she’ll learn that she can ask for her body to be respected, too.
Anyway, here’s the hilarious blog post I wrote. My notes from actually being a tandem nursing mother in italics. Because writing about parenting issues before they happen to you is the biggest LOL of all time. #noscreentime #nocoffeewhilepregnant #onlyorganicwoolgarmentsforthelittles #weclothdiaperedwinnieforalmosttwoyearstho
5 Things to Consider Before Tandem Nursing
I always knew I would be a nursing mother, but I never guessed I might be a tandem nursing mother! [Because I didn’t ever look at a calendar?] When I found out I was expecting, with a due date just shy of my not-yet-weaned daughter’s second birthday, I found myself faced with questions. [Like “HOLY SHIT WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?”] Should I wean before the new baby arrives? Would I be able to nurse them both? Tandem nursing (breastfeeding more than one child, either together or separately) isn’t for everyone– but many mothers find the process incredibly rewarding. [Note: I have yet to meet them. My tandem nursing Facebook group was full of moms on their phones wearing stretched out shirts, lap full of kids like, whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.] Deciding whether or not to pursue tandem nursing is an individual decision, but thinking about the following can make that decision easier. [LOL “decision”]
Do you want to tandem nurse? It sounds simple enough, but if you feel like you should tandem nurse out of obligation to your child, partner, or the judgy mom down the block– don’t worry about it! Your body is yours, and every major health organization advocates breastfeeding as long as it is mutually desired by both mother and baby. If you don’t want to, don’t! At the same time, don’t let anyone dissuade you by saying it’s weird or impossible– neither of which is true. [Almost everything I do is either weird or impossible, especially re: raising these two humans.]
Who is your tandem nursing team? [I don’t know but I would like to subscribe to their newsletter.] Now that you’ve nursed one child (or more), you know how important a nursing support system can be. Identify people who can help you through your next chapter, like your partner, family members, friends, organizations like La Leche League, or even online support like Kellymom.com [Also, refreshing the Iowa caucus results and FiveThirtyEight.com on your phone can be really helpful online resources for feeling connected to the adult world while nursing a brood.]
How can others help you tandem nurse? Once you’ve made a list of those who can support you, think about the ways in which they can do so. Maybe your spouse can pick up a greater portion of household tasks, or leave the fridge stocked with easy snacks and filling meals (you’ll need the fuel while nursing two!). Set a weekly date with other nursing moms in your neighborhood. Plan for family or friends to visit to change diapers, play with your toddler, and give you a break from being “on.” [AHHHH SEND HELP]
Does tandem nursing work with your lifestyle? [If not, too bad!] Do you plan to co-sleep or settle your newborn in her own room? Is your toddler night-weaned? Will you head back to work soon after the birth and tandem nurse on weekends and after work? Think about the logistics of your time, sleep, and space, and tweak anything you can now to be prepared for later.
Make a tandem nursing plan– and be okay with letting it go. After you’ve lined up your team, sleeping arrangements, and identified your motivation for tandem nursing, you’ve got the makings of a great plan! Now visualize letting it go. You may nurse your toddler for longer than you plan– or you may decide that you’re too exhausted to nurse more than one baby. You may prepare for agitation while nursing both children– or it may not be a problem at all. Stay flexible and in tune with yourself, and you can’t go wrong. [Okay, this part is for real, tho.]