by Susan T.
When our firstborn L was a newborn, I was determined to breastfeed him despite a rocky start post C-section where I barely got a few drops out per feed the first week, a bit more the second week and only half an ounce per feed the third week. We
supplemented with formula until I was able to get enough supply to breastfeed exclusively at 5 weeks, thanks to the many tips from LLL leaders, doulas, other moms and IBCLCs.
L is now 3 years old and still very interested in breastfeeding at bedtime and at naptime. When I became pregnant again, my nipples were sensitive and nursing him started to feel painful. Bleeding nipples suddenly was a regular thing so I decided to
night wean him. At various points I felt aversion or nausea while nursing. It felt like my body was telling me I should stop nursing. My dreams of tandem nursing the two seemed to be slipping away. I so wanted them to be able to bond that way and thought, ah, it's all probably too good to be true. Somehow despite all the ups and downs we managed to keep coming back to the breastfeeding. I think we both enjoyed our nursing relationship enough.
After P was born, I started to think again that it's all too much to juggle, that I would have to wean our older and focus on our newborn who needs the milk more. After only a few days back home from the hospital, it turns out that our nursing toddler saved me from full-blown mastitis.
My OB said that mastitis is common due to engorgement as the milk comes in around one week postpartum, and on top of that P had jaundice which made her a sleepy feeder, leaving behind too much milk in the breasts. I started to develop a fever and was afraid I'd need to start antibiotics or to bring out all of my pumping equipment. I told myself I'd try to avoid pumping if I could this time around, after too much pumping for L. Since he had been fighting bedtime with Dad, screaming at the top of his lungs each night, I asked Dad to switch and take P and decided to see if L could help me empty my breasts. He was more than happy to. As he nursed, I could feel the clog slowly getting pulled forward to the nipple and felt so relieved. My fever broke that night. Plus he had a happier bedtime than the previous nights. I felt both elated and so guilty at the same time for not spending the last few nights with him that I started to cry. I made the wrong assumption about him, what was "best" for him and baby, and my breasts and their ability to provide for both kids.
I've since had moments where I breastfeed them side by side. There's nothing more supermom-feeling than that, and the moments of bonding between them are indescribably special. L sometimes invites his little sister to nurse with him, and
sometimes he holds her hand or strokes her cheek during the feed. I now do both of their bedtimes, and they even nap together sometimes.
There were many moments during the pregnancy that I considered weaning L. I'm really glad we both toughed it out and kept going.
About the Authors
These posts were written by nursing moms (sometimes with their support persons) who attend(ed) LLL meetings in Manhattan. All stories were originally published in our newsletters.