Once More with Feeling

Welcome to the June 2011 Breastfeeding Carnival hosted by Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog and Blacktating. This month’s theme is Breastfeeding the Second Time Around. Links to the other participants’ posts will be updated at the bottom of this post throughout June 13th

Holding Hands Tandem BreastfeedingEach of my sons has had a different flavor of breastfeeding. And they’ve received the benefits of a mother who has evolved to feel more comfortable trusting their rhythms. For example, when I’m asked about how often we breastfeed at night, I really have no idea. We cosleep, so whenever someone gets hungry, they smack their gums or grunt a bit and I latch them back on without either of us waking fully. I don’t keep track of anything other than how we are connecting as a unit. This is what works for us the second and third time around.

After a very difficult start at breastfeeding with my first son, Nat, I was very curious to see how things would work out with my second son, Gan. He was born on the family room floor after a labor so quick that the birth pool wasn’t finished being inflated. At first, he was too busy looking around with big, dark eyes to settle in and latch on. But, when he was ready, he latched on readily and nursed his newborn self into contented sleep. Gan was a different nursling than I was used to. From the start, he nursed for nutrition and very little simply for comfort. He would easily fall asleep at the breast, but then push the nipple out with his tongue and contentedly settle in to sleep. Meanwhile his big brother would keep his permalatch going while deeply asleep even over two years old.

Sleeping but the bar's still open

Sleeping but the bar's still open

But, I learned to trust my “independent” nursling. After all, he was content and chubbly bubbly. As I descended into PPD, his more independent nursing style was a boon because I became touched out so easily. I also experienced some rage and anxiety related to my let down, which is not uncommon. I did my best to keep my depression and anger from contaminating our breastfeeding relationship, but it was difficult at times. I still have a lot of guilt related to the first year of Gan’s life. I remember so little of it because of the PPD. And even though it was difficult, I am grateful that we had those “enforced” times to simply sit and be. Since we had to regularly snuggle our bodies together and learn about one another while breastfeeding, we have been able to stay connected. The deep love in his eyes could draw me out from the depths of my pain, even if it meant I cried often while breastfeeding. Our relationship helped to keep me grounded in knowing that these feelings of love were more true than the depression.

I let Gan lead me in our breastfeeding relationship. He experienced from birth always sharing breastmilk with an accommodating older brother. He often had his body across his big brother and pushed his feet into Nat’s nose, resulting in peals of laughter. There has been little rivalry for my attention. I think this partially comes from the two of them enjoying one another while on the breast.

When Bud came along, Gan and Nat took everything as normal that they would make space in our breastfeeding circle for their little brother. They understood that Bud would need mama milk first because that’s all babies eat. Big brothers can have mama milk and solid foods. I think Gan thoroughly enjoyed being the one to show his baby brother the same lessons that he had received. And Nat, as the oldest enjoyed teaching all over again.

New Baby Brother Love

New Baby Brother Love

Bud has been the easiest breastfeeding baby so far. He latched on almost immediately after being born. I hadn’t even moved out of my birthing position on my bed. His birth was instinctual and quick as was his take to breastfeeding. The contractions from his latch helped speed the birth of the placenta. His brothers peeked at him, while he calmly gazed back as if things were completely normal and he hadn’t just gone through the major transition from womb to the outside world. It was as though he’d been here before and knew what to expect: warm milk and lots of love.

Both Gan and Nat like to help Bud breastfeed. They’ll reach over and support or gently squeeze my breast while Bud is latched on. Bud thinks this is hilarious, which has made for multiple milky giggles. I feel immensely blessed to get to observe this sibling bonding so close up.

First latchEach of my sons has benefitted from a mother who is more at ease with trusting these bright beings right from birth. Breastfeeding has been a constant refuge when things have become too much and we need to slow down. It has also been a place where they can retreat from arguments and restore their own connection by gazing into one another’s eyes or laughing at the pure joy they experience while breastfeeding.

Please stop by the other Breastfeeding Carnival participants’ posts and leave some comment love:

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11 thoughts on “Once More with Feeling

  1. Hi Zoie, I really enjoyed your post and photos. You’ve beautifully shown how you understand your boy’s nursing personalities and how you’ve been able to meet their needs. Love it.

  2. I LOVE the older boys “helping”! Oh that is just the best. I can just see them talking him through the rough spots, too, those old pros. Awesome.

    And priceless pics! The sleeping one is especially fabulous.

  3. I love how the brothers interact while nursing. I couldn’t tandem nurse; Audrey weaned at 15 months because I was pregnant and had no supply. Audrey understands that the baby gets milkies from “bob” and “larry” (she named them) and is very interested in me when I nurse and when I make baby milkies.

  4. Pingback: Totally different and completely the same. | Three Girl Pile-Up

  5. Thank you for sharing this beautiful reflection on your breastfeeding journey, Zoie! The very thought of three bothers sharing a connection through nursing is touching, but the way you describe it made me smile all while reading this.

  6. This is so beautiful. What a wise and wonderful mama you are.:-)
    I was SO AFRAID my 11 month old son was trying to wean last week–I just can’t imagine NOT nursing a toddler and I am greatly releaved that he seems to be interested in returning to the breast this week.

    Your nursing photos are fantastic: breastfeeding at birth, extended breastfeeding and tandem nursing! Just awesome images of NORMAL life, love and health.

I love comments and try to reply to each one. I look forward to connecting with you. Namaste

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