Sometimes I think tandem Breastfeeding is the stupidest thing I’ve ever decided to do. Some days I downright detest it. If it’s not the stupidest thing I’ve done, it’s by far the hardest.
Sometimes, I think deciding to tandem is the best decision I could have made. Sometimes it’s beautiful. I feel proud of my decision to continue to provide breastmilk to my toddler even though her new brother is earthside.
But was it even really a decision? My period didn’t return until about 15 months postpartum. I had two wonky cycles and then I got pregnant again. Babe was in no rush to wean. She stuck with it when things were as dry as the desert. She wasn’t weaning on her own and I wasn’t going to force her.
So, at 27 months, she and her one month old brother are sharing “milkies.” It’s been… interesting.
One thing we tell ourselves is it’s ultimately going to eliminate some sibling rivalry. But to be honest, any drama from Babe is usually all about the “milkies.” She is learning each of them get their own turn. It’s not easy for her. She will tell me not to nurse the baby. But she will also tell me she thinks he’s hungry and needs milk. Sometimes she hits him. We have our ways of dealing with it patiently but it really sucks. I keep reminding myself it’s been only a month. Babe’s still getting used to everything and so am I.
Our first challenge was figuring out how to position ourselves so we’re all comfy. Papa was huge in helping configure the pillows just so. Mostly I was on my back in bed or in a big chair, kids propped on pillows to nurse to sleep. At first I always nursed them both at the same time. But eventually, the feel of both nipples being stimulated at once was making me insane. I was feeling hostile toward poor Babe. Not fair, she was there first!
I now try to minimize nursing both at the same time. I do this, usually, by getting the Bug to sleep first. Sometimes at nap time we go into Babe’s room and she plays with puzzles or toys until he’s down. Sometimes she gets to watch the Elephant show on my iPod while she lies beside us. I put him down near me and she comes over to nurse to sleep. While this is the ideal, nursing both at the same time is unavoidable. My kids mostly only fall asleep while nursing (though Bug is proving to already be more versatile than his older sis) so it’s a challenge to time things so one is asleep so I can nurse the other. Especially when I’m solo. Which is a reality for us.
The crappiest thing of it all is that our once nightweaned Babe has recently started waking at night and screaming to nurse. Not in a bratty way. In an “I really, truly need my mom,” kind of way. We’re of two minds on how to deal with is.
If I had really known what tandem nursing was going to be like, I can’t say it’s a decision I’d have made. More and more I wonder if we should have waited for a “more ideal” time to have another baby. Who knows when that time would have been. Would we have had to restart with breastfeeding and diapers?
The biggest thing I have to remember is that tandem nursing, in a lot of ways, probably saved our little Bug from serious health issues. We’ll never really know.
A month or even a week ago, I didn’t know how I was going to be the SAHM of two kids, tandem or not. But now I know I can do it. I can only assume this too will get easier.