Snuggle All My Bugs Together

imageChuck is adjusting pretty well. I would say that being 2.5, a precocious little genius and accustomed to being the constant center of attention could all prove to be pretty big hurdles to scale when it comes to adding a baby brother to the mix. But, she loves him, she “just LOVES him SOOO much!” Her words. And actions, as she tries to smother him with All.The.Love!

When Hfoe brought C to the hospital to meet her new comrade, he also brought the Calico Critters and school that I had gotten ahead of time to be the gift her baby gave her. It was a glorious plan in my mind. She would be so enamored with the baby and then he/she would give her a gift, too?! Wow, this sibling thing is pretty awesome! I also thought the little critters would be a perfect “sometimes” toy for her to play with only when I was nursing the baby, thus keeping her both occupied with the “special” toy and blissfully unaware that I was trapped on the couch, plugged in, unable to reprimand her for whatever she happened to be getting into at the moment. The best laid plans…

As they walked into our hospital room, I had baby Bug in his bassinet so the first thing C saw wasn’t HER mama holding a different kid. I squealed with delight to see her and invited her to join me on the bed. We hugged and cuddled and then she said, “Mama, what’s that?” “That’s your brother, G. Would you like to hold him?” “Sure, Mama.” So, hubs took baby boy out of his cozy bed and we cocooned Chuck in pillows as we laid him precariously in her lap. She poked him and kissed him and examined his tiny face…and then she was done. She wanted to explore the interesting hospital room. But, first, the gift! “OOOOH, cooool!” She loved it! That’s it. I was a genius and my plan was going to work perfectly.

Then, Buddy started to cry. I saddled him up to my boob to nurse (at which he was already a pro) and I didn’t think anything of it. She had her magical toys, after all. Oh the sob that broke from her sweet little gut just about broke my heart. I have actually never heard my girl make that sound before. “Nooo, don’t give him milkies! That’s my milkies, mama! Why, mama?!” It makes me tear up writing this two months later. I had no idea that it would hurt her so much to see me share her special mama time with another baby, without ever asking her if it was ok.

C only gets nursed to sleep now, so I guess I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal to her. I was very wrong and it has taken a long time to make things right. After lots of explaining that he can’t eat the food she can and involving her help to get burp rags while I breastfeed, she now shares milkies with her brother without a fight. In fact, on occasions when Hfoe has to work late and baby Bug is awake when I put his sister to bed, she will ask to “do milkies all together…so I can snuggle all my bugs.” I love her terminology to describe our tandem nursing sessions. It is such a sweet, sweet time where she caresses his head and he holds her finger and I stare at them both in the dark. I know that C will likely be weaning completely soon, so I am cherishing what little time of this we have left.These two precious little beings, my snuggle bugs, all together, doing their “milkies”…I never want to forget it.

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My Boobas!

Photo credit to Vickie Putnam Photography

“MY Boobas!” This has become the common declaration from Chuck regarding my utters ever since Baby N was born. Our buddies who live next door welcomed their sweet baby girl last month and C has been witness to many breastfeeding sessions since. This has made her keenly aware that she is not the only nursling who enjoys her mama milk. It has also brought up a wave of emotions and concerned inquiries regarding our own soon-to-be squishy in the house! When asked if she will share her “milkies” with the new baby, Chuckles thoughtfully replied, “Mmm, other one!” Meaning, we better find another boob for that kid because she isn’t sharing!

C is almost 2 1/2 and I never thought before I got pregnant with her that I would be an “extended breastfeeding” mother. I grew up in the south where the mentality is, “Once they are old enough to ask, they are too old.” It was seen as strange to continue nursing past 1 year of age and I just thought I would feel the same way. Fast-forward to actually having a kid who, with her history of gastrointestinal problems and failure to gain weight at different points in her short life, NEEDED me to be available to her, no matter if she could ask for it or not.

Chuck took to the boob minutes after birth and has never turned back. Thankfully, I was a milk-making machine, because I know that some aren’t so fortunate. But, we weren’t without our struggles. C had a minor lip tie that has all but resolved itself as she has gotten older, but as an infant it really HURT! Not to mention, I had a period of a couple months where, looking back, I’m pretty sure I had mastitis or something because every time I let down, it was like knives stabbing me in the chest. Every. Single. Time. Worse than both of these, though, was the deep sadness I felt during let down almost every time I would nurse C until she was almost 20 months old. It only lasted about 15-20 seconds, but it was so intense! After hearing another mama talking about this in my birth group, I learned I wasn’t alone. And it had a name! Dismorphic Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER) is actually not so uncommon. Many women just don’t know to identify it. I understand, now, why people opt out of breastfeeding after the first few months. It’s like torture for some of us! But, I am cheap and stubborn and I am so, so glad for that. Because, after the uphill battle and the pain, we created this really amazing breastfeeding relationship. The milk was always there. It was always the right temperature and the comfort of mama’s arms never failed to be just what she needed. Now, the hurdles of nursing an active toddler were a little more comical and physically difficult to overcome! Ever try to feed someone while their feet are in your face, fingers are up your nose and they are trying to practice a double backflip? THAT is nursing a toddler!

Now that I am pregnant with number two, my milk has pretty much dried up. It’s so sad. But, we still do “milkies” at night (despite the OUCH that accompanies dry nursing!) right before bed because it is the one time of day my girl actually wants to sit and snuggle and SLOW down for the day. And honestly, it has become a time of reconnection for the two of us after our usual day of the back and forth struggles and corrections that come with parenting a two-year old. It’s the time I get to remind her, whether I have milk or not, that my arms are for snuggling her and the thing that has brought her comfort since day one, is still there.

I have been asked several times over the last few months when I think we will stop nursing and my response is always the same…whenever she is ready. I am in no hurry, but I am also ready when she is. W.H.O. (World Health Organization) says the average age of weaning worldwide is between 4-7. While I doubt we will still be going strong when she is in kindergarten, I don’t see any need to cut her off when it’s only beneficial to continue. I mean, why take away her source of anti-bodies and extra nutrition?  I’m hoping that once the baby is born, I will have the same awesome supply I did with C and I can build this same kind of nursing relationship with Bug. As far as logistics…the newborn gets first dibs and C gets the left overs. I doubt she will complain! Although, she might finally get a little chunky since that’s the good, fatty stuff! Now, we just have to work on this sharing thing!

This week is Worldwide Breastfeeding Week. What does your breastfeeding/human milk feeding journey look like? Whether you were able to produce for a day, a year or 3, you are doing good, mama! If you would like to participate in Worldwide Breatfeeding Week, check out http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/pledges.shtml to find a pledge location near you! As for Chuck and me, we will be at EarthBaby Boutique on Thursday!

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