Thursday, March 22, 2012

Transitioning to Two part 2

(Read Part One and Part Three if you missed them!)

-Every season is very fleeting. It’s amazing how fast time flies! Even as I write this, racking my brain and drifting back to the first couple months, I can’t believe how many seasons we’ve gone through. The season of recovering from birth- not being able to move around and (ouch!) having to rely on everyone else for almost everything. Dealing with Vivi’s outbursts and “purposeful” disobedience as she figured out how to handle the changes. Exhaustion and severe hormone headaches. Nights of pacing the floor till 11. The sweet season of spending all day long cradling my baby. The season of having two little ones who couldn’t walk. And so many more seasons.

Every time something hard seemed like it would stretch on forever- change was just around the corner. Every time I thought I finally had Timothy pinned and a routine that was working for all of us…change was inevitable. Every time I was enjoying a new stage of one of the kiddos- change was about to happen. My head spins when I think about just how many changing seasons we’ve been through in the past 4 months. It’s incredible to realize it’s only been four months, and yet our routines and life and struggles and triumphs have changed so many times!

I remember Mom saying that after 6 or so weeks, the baby balances out so much. Sometimes, in a lonely 11 o’clock moment with a fussy baby who didn’t want anything I could offer, that sounded like a long time. But it was over in a flash- and one day I realized, “Wow, he’s so changed. He’s not a newborn.” Of course, your newborn might be very content and go-with-the-flow and fall asleep easily, in which case you can hope the first 6-12 weeks last a long time! J (At least, a whole lot of people claim that’s the case…)

-Plan your day ahead. Meal plan. Proactively accomplish your to-do list early in the day. Make lists and stay organized. I thought about making different headings for these topics but they overlap so much, we’ll just do one long one. I’m pretty sure this is the single most important “tip” for me, the thing that makes our days run smoothly. Yes, we have our long days, our rough days, our tired days, our teething days. But by and large, and with many thanks to these strategies- our days run very smoothly. They’re relatively relaxed, the essential to-do list gets completed, and we have time to enjoy the beautiful moments.

*As a small aside, it’s possible the reason this helps me so much is because it melds so well with my personality. I’m production-oriented, I also like lists. I like to tackle things immediately, and can not, for the life of me, enjoy leisure when I know more stuff lies ahead in the day. Even though it’s one of my biggest things, it might not help you at all…because you might find it really relaxing to cook or clean or whatever while littles nap in the afternoon.*

Here’s why I love using all these tips (and below you’ll find a bit more space devoted to the different categories, and what exactly I do): A newborn’s fussy period is most likely to typically fall between 4-8pm. Smack-dab in the middle of most people’s dinner prep. Plus, late afternoon is also when other kiddos are most likely to be cantankerous and through with the day. Plus, especially after long nights, I’m tired. And, for us, Ben gets home from work between 3-4. Plus….I like having my day all wrapped up early. Also, right now, Vivi usually has at least 1-2 days a week when naps don’t happen (b/c it’s really hard to coordinate her naps with Timothy and get everything to align perfectly enough for long enough!). For quite a while, it was 3-4 nap-less days a week. On days when she does nap, I often fall asleep with her for 10-15 minutes (having gotten Timothy to sleep and put him in a bed while working with Vivi), and then get woke up by Timothy. With only one kiddo, it can slow the afternoon down- or I might be fully occupied, if Timothy isn’t feeling fully-rested. If one or both don’t nap, they’re really cranky and need lots of extra attention and love. Not a good time to try making dinner, especially under the deadline of needing to have it done by a certain time! And if they do both nap, together (1-2 hours), which currently happens about once every other week….delicious. With everything done, I get to indulge- in writing, extra sewing, quiet activities, etc. It’s fun every once in a while! J If it happens to be a day I got behind in, I play catch-up. If the kids had a fussy morning, I use nap time for normal stuff, if we get a nap time. And that’s okay too.

If your kids take consistent naps, and if you like spending that time doing your day-to-day stuff and/or making dinner, have at it! I just don’t like the idea of using up quiet time that way…and I know what happens when I try to accomplish stuff while kiddos are crabby- and it’s not pleasant. That is to say, I’m not pleasant.

Due to typical fussy time, waiting till 4-5 to start working on dinner prep is kind of begging for trouble and stress and all sorts of things you don’t need in your house! So- meal plan! Each week-usually towards the end of the week, since right now my shopping trip happens on Saturday, when the vehicle’s available- I jot down a menu plan. I might even spread it out over a few days so I can just fill in an idea when it comes to mind, instead of actually having to brainstorm. If that fails, I’ve also just put together a list of all our current meals, which gets added to as we add new dishes….it’s so helpful when I’m brain-dead!

My most productive time of day is usually from 6:40 (when Ben leaves for work) to 10:30, give or take. We tackle the day, and then we’re done. Sometimes we work on projects all day, it just depends. I like to be busy and productive, so if I’m not extra tired from a long night, and the kids aren’t either, and we’re still able to fit in plenty of breaks for play and going outside, then we keep the whole day rolling. But in general, getting the productive stuff done early allows lots of time for extra stuff….extra things with the kids, extra/optional to-do items, etc.

I usually write out general to-do lists for the week, and more specific ones for each day. I divide it into “essential” items (regular cleaning, cooking, etsy orders etc.) and “non-essential” (bigger cleaning projects, flexible cooking ventures, extra sewing, and so forth). We run through the essential items and I do other things if I feel like I want to be more productive, have extra time, the kids are having an unusually great day, etc. That keeps everything balanced and manageable- usually! I’ve also made it a habit to write things I want to do with the kids on my to-do lists, to make sure they happen. Remember, I’m a task-oriented person. If I don’t watch myself, I could easily not make fun play a priority. So “going outside” or “reading books” gets put on the to-do list. Makes me feel more productive, too! :-)

-But, on a completely different note, start your life with two out with really small expectations! You’re not superwoman, don’t expect to act like it. The above has been, more or less, our routine for the past few months. But the first 6 weeks? Nah. We cheated, we did minimal, we ate from the freezer. We read stories, we nursed, we changed diapers, we adjusted. The end. That’s okay too….different seasons for different things. Expect in the early weeks - and in difficult seasons (teething, illness, pregnancy, etc.) – to be relatively unproductive- to just meet the basics.

As you get back into the swing of things, start small. Add one thing at a time. First day you plan to grocery shop with the kiddos? Make that your only to-do list item. Plan plenty of time for changing diapers, packing diaper bag, nursing, doling snacks, loading the van, possibly repeating some of the above activities, getting there, shopping, getting home, unloading, caring for kiddos, etc. Your first trip it really might feel like an exhausting and daunting task! I remember my first trip, when Timothy was 2 or so weeks old. I remember feeling like I was clumsy and in everyone’s way as I kept readjusting Timothy in the sling in attempt at making him happy while maneuvering the cart and trying not to hit anyone or go to slow. I remember searching for a partially-empty aisle so I could get Timothy into a nursing position and fight with him for several minutes, trying to get him to latch on. Neither of my newborn’s have liked shopping- Timothy still doesn’t. It’s too hard to time it just so perfectly between sleep needs, especially when one is unpredictable and doesn’t take a long enough pre-shopping nap! I remember breathing a sigh of relief when we were back in the van again, out of everyone’s way. And that’s with a toddler who loves shopping (LINK: and consequently, is quite angelic!

If you need to be somewhere at a certain time, you might do well to pack your stuff well ahead of time and start getting ready to go 30-60 minutes beforehand. You never know how many times you’ll have to nurse and change diapers before you’re actually out the door!

-Freezer meals. Have freezer meals on hand. At all times. I prepped a bunch prior to Timothy’s birth, but I always like to have a handful of options on hand, and plenty of meal starters, too. I accomplish it simply by making double or triple any time I cook something that would do well in the freezer and/or be easy to do extra of. No extra dishes, and only a bit of extra time, and home cooked meals on the rough days become possible!

Another possibility is to generally cook enough to eat something for two dinners in a row, instead of freezing it. I prefer to vary our day-to-day diet (usually), plus I often use leftovers for lunches. However it works for you, I’m a strong advocate of cooking for more than just one meal!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mommy Guilt

Guilt. It causes so much harm, and little, if any, good. And I’ve realized recently I have a problem with it.

It’s. So. Easy.

To feel guilty if I don’t carry/wear Timothy 24/7. And on the flipside, to feel guilty because he’s 4 ½ months old and “still” not rolling over. And to feel conflicted over putting him down if I don’t absolutely have to.

To feel guilty if I don’t spend all day interacting with Viviana, because she chooses to go off and play on her own rather than joining in what I’m doing. That would be even though I think one of the positive aspects to attachment parenting is the way it creates solid and secure independence once a child’s ready.

To feel guilty if I enjoy getting lost in a quiet bit of thought while watching Vivi and Timothy play, rather than keeping up a lively conversation. Even though no one’s complaining or begging for my attention.

To feel guilty on car trips, because of the amount of time not spent holding my babies.

To feel guilty for not getting enough done, and, on the other hand, to feel guilty for focusing too much on getting stuff done and not enough on my family.

To feel guilty for going on a shopping outing with my mom and sister just for clothes for me (didn’t even look at the baby section!), and leave Vivi behind with her daddy. Even though Ben encouraged me to go, and even though I knew on a long (and yet slow) shopping trip like that, Vivi would get weary, and she and Ben would have a fantastic father-daughter time together. Even though I came home refreshed and thoroughly enjoyed the time with my two favorite gals.

But heck with it. Guilt doesn’t get us anywhere, ladies. It might come from parenting books. It might come from “Them”. It might come from other blogs. It might (hand raise :-)) come from an idealistic personality. It might come from hanging out with idealistic people. It might come from having previously judged other people, and then falling into the same struggles or decisions (sadly, another hand raise). Regardless, it doesn’t make us better mommies.

Sometimes I feel so overrun by guilt*, I don’t know what’s for us and what isn’t. I don’t know what the right balance is or if I’m doing a “good enough” job as a mom. I’m never going to succeed perfectly…never going to meet all my ideals….never going to have a perfect week, or even a perfect day.

*Most, if not all of my guilt is entirely my fault. So this post isn’t a reaction to anyone or because of feeling like others put guilt trips on me. My guilt struggles are the downside to being an idealist. :-) Or maybe, it’s just because I know too much.

But, at least, I want to be driven by my instincts and ideals…not guilt or any of the attached strings. I want to live free to listen to my heart, free to act on what I instinctively feel is right for my children, my family. Not what some book claims is right. Not what Susie finds is right for her family. Just what’s right for mine. And as I strive for that freedom, I want other mommies to experience it, too. And I want to be a part of that; not part of the guilt trip.

I’m still passionate. I still hold to ideas I believe in with all my heart. And I’m still going to write about them. And, I still have a desire to educate mamas, because there are some things that there just isn’t much info on. But I hope that somehow, God breathes grace into what I say, and moms reading this blog feel free to parent instinctively. Because if guilt is the motivator, parenting “just like me” isn’t much of an improvement over parenting like Ezzo. (Okay, well…I do have a lot of issues with him. And I don’t recommend parenting the Babywise method. But….you get the picture.)

You should parent the way you do because it’s what you feel is right in your heart. You should wear your baby because you love to, and because you feel it’s right for you. You should feel free and unjudged if you put your little one down while you take a shower.

I’m purposing to nurture and raise my littles the way my heart tells me I should, everyday. And I’m inviting you to do the same.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Transitioning to Two part 1

(Read Part Two and Part Three if you missed them!)

A while ago, a friend, expecting her 2nd, asked about my biggest tips/thoughts/advice on managing two. Well- I don’t have it all together, and each person has to find what works for them. But I had enough ideas I thought I’d turn it into a blog post. A multi-part blog post, at that! J Here, you’ll find a collection of ideas, humor, “advice”, encouragement and thoughts on what worked best for me…in no special order.

I’m learning that since we’re all such different personalities, we have to find what flows with our personality…not to mention, our life circumstances, etc.! So, take it all with a grain of salt, and see what works for you!

If you’re new here, just as a quick aside for background- Viviana is my toddler, and was 17 months when Timothy, my baby, was born. They’re now 21.5 and 4 months, respectively.

For more reading, hop over here and read Jessica’s post on mothering two.

-If you’re committed, you’ll make it. You won’t be perfect, you’ll make mistakes….but you’re going to do it, and with flying colors, at that! I know it seems intimidating and daunting on the days that one takes all your time. But everyday, there’s grace. And somehow, you just find ways to make things work.

-On a similar note, Necessity is the mother of creativity. I know, it’s said often…maybe it’s even clique. But, it’s so true! Different things I’ve worried about and wondered how on earth I could make work (for instance: getting both kids to nap), when I was put to it, I just found a way. We just made it happen, enough said. Not through miracles or super-woman powers. Just because we had to figure out a way, so we did. And usually, it was easier than I thought it would be!

-You can’t meet everyone’s needs at once. A friend told me this….a mutual friend had told her. It’s a pearl of advice, if balanced on both sides. I mean, you wouldn’t want to use it as an excuse to not meet everyone’s needs, or to not multi-task or to ignore someone. But on the other hand…if you’re a natural mama, in tune to your babies’ needs and with a sensitive maternal instinct (like we all should be- like God created us to be)- you could easily get stressed over your lack of extra arms, or the idea that someone has to wait. And it was helpful to remember….it’s okay. No one’s going to be permanently traumatized, and if I’m doing my best, and lovingly trying to meet all needs….everyone will feel taken care of, and will “still” trust me to meet their needs. What a relief! Usually, it’s Viviana who does the waiting, but it depends on the circumstance. That’s just because she’s old enough to understand when I tell her “I’ll be there to help you in just a minute. Let me finish with Timothy.” She doesn’t always act like she understands….it doesn’t cause her to stop crying and wait patiently immediately! But she’s mentally capable of processing. I can’t expect Timothy to understand what it means to wait when he’s hungry. At this point in life, most of his “wants” are needs which need to be taken care of instantly. On the other hand, though, sometimes he has to wait to be put down for a nap, or have something altered. Maybe I’m wearing him and he’s no longer happy- needs a diaper change and more effort towards sleep- but I’m in the middle of something in the kitchen, or helping Vivi get lunch. Since I know his greatest needs are being met, and he isn’t being ignored (I am holding him), I’m comfortable letting him wait. I wouldn’t be if he was playing on the floor. You’ll figure out what you’re comfortable with and what feels right to you as you follow your instincts!

-Chocolate. Lots of chocolate. Even more chocolate on the rocky days. Okay, in balance. Seriously, though- sometimes a little treat in the middle of a stressful day does help. Whether it’s really the properties of chocolate (my mom and I have jokingly called it “nerve control” for years!), or taking a moment to do something for you and savor something delicious, or getting away from a stressful situation, or just the pick-me-up-buzz something sweet gives….it can be nice. So I’m not kidding! J

-Pray. And pray….and pray. I had really thought I had grown in a lot of areas in my life, pre-Timothy. Especially weeding out my tendency to get stressed/frustrated/upset/etc. I think I had- I just had a long ways to go, too! Becoming a mommy to two has grown me even more. I hate that my babies have had to “suffer” along the way, as they put up with my mistakes in the growing process. Especially in the early weeks- when constantly sleep-deprived, recovering from birth, dealing with Vivi transitioning, and the fussy newborn stage, not to mention PP hormones- I prayed so much. Sometimes, it was a begging cry to “please just change me” or “help me”.

I remember especially Thanksgiving afternoon, when Timothy was 3 or 4 weeks old. Vivi was exhausted and thanks to another young cousin, I was unsuccessful at getting her to sleep. Timothy was fussy. Ben was out playing football with the guys (we were at my in-laws). Everyone else was sleeping, more or less. I felt my frustration mounting more and more as I tried to mange the kids. I felt like I couldn’t handle it anymore, and Vivi was so whinny and clingy. Frustrated, I pulled her off me too roughly. And then I broke. “Oh my God, what am I doing? Why can’t I handle this? Timothy’s barely into our family, and I can’t even meet everyone’s needs! Why do I have to be so frustrated? And why can’t they just be easy?” So I packed us up, loaded the kids in the car, told Ben to find a ride home and went home. The whole way home I cried over the fact that I had succumbed to my raging emotions, and my babies suffered for it. We got home, I loaded the kids up on me for a tandem walk and we enjoyed a delightful time together. Timothy fell asleep, Vivi was soothed and calmed….and so was I. We enjoyed a quiet afternoon and early evening together….and all ended well.

I still pray a lot, and still have a lot of growing…but thankfully, things are much more balanced these days! So, not to scare anyone with the above story- it was one of my worst moments. J One of those moments I wouldn’t have gotten through without prayer!

-Invent a “Word of the Week” to work on. This was born out of the above scenario….and honestly, I never moved beyond the first word on my list. I should get back to it- it was helpful and refreshing. I started jotting down words that described who I wanted to be or what I wanted to be like…stuff I wanted to incorporate into my life. My first word of choice was “gentleness”. I wrote it on a 3x5 card and put it on the fridge. On the back, I wrote explicit ways for how I wanted to incorporate gentleness into my life. And, amazingly, it helped me so much. I saw a lot of growth in my life as I focused on one word through the day’s various situations. I’ve got a ways to go, but I truly did become a more gentle mom. So yeah…I need to move beyond the first word and pick a new one, hehe!

-Kids are forgiving- be so grateful for it! Not much to say here…it just blesses me so much to see how forgiving my kids are of me. They always welcome me with open arms. It stresses Vivi out when I get stressed…but she never pulls back from me. And life is beautiful again for her as soon as I warmly take her in my arms and interact un-stressed with her. Somehow, they never hold anything against me. I cringe every time I do something – or a whole day of “somethings” – that I regret, knowing they weren’t healthy for anyone. It kills me to think that I could (do) scar my children, and that in later years they’ll have stuff to work through just because of my imperfections. But sadly, it’s going to happen, know matter how hard I try. So, I apologize, make up, and move on…grateful that, today at least, my babies don’t love me any less for my flaws.

What? I said I didn’t have much to say on this one? You knew I was kidding, didn’t you? ;-P

-Cherish the beautiful moments- for it truly is such a rich season! There are so many beautiful things that happen every day, if only I stop and listen and see.

Sweet moments playing at the park with Viviana, while Timothy observes the world from his perch in the wrap or ergo. Enjoying Vivi’s delight as we all go down the slide together. The irresistible way Vivi brings me the wrap and says “Wrap. Back.” when I’ve just put Timothy down to finish his nap in bed. The way Timothy smiles at me with his huge chubby cheeks. The way Viviana woke up in the night, and, without a peep, climbed up into our bed and snuggled against me- priceless. Feeling Timothy snuggled up against me all night long, listening to his soft breathing. The moments of tandem nursing when each baby is so happy with their own breast. Or, more common now that we’re older, moments like this morning when Timothy’s nursing and I’m sharing a healthy “shake” with Vivi. Or reading Vivi a story while bouncing on an exercise ball (Timothy in carrier) trying to get him to sleep. Squeezing my babies so close. Laughing, all three of us together. Enjoying sunshine together. Kneading bread dough with Vivi while kissing the top of Timothy’s head. Or seeing Vivi’s delight when I get out the crock pot as she proclaims “Beans! Beans!”, because she knows we make beans (amongst many other things, granted) in the crock pot, and loves helping to rinse them out and soak them. There were the first weeks when I would watch Timothy sleep for hours. There was helping Vivi adjust to having a new sibling, and enjoying her delight in him. There’s watching as Vivi gently strokes Timothy’s head- just like I do. There’s watching her try to wear her babies- just like me.

Oh, so much beauty! It makes my heart almost hurt, my life is so full of good things. Yes, there are hard days- you’ll have them, which is why I’ve chosen to share some of mine with you- but you’ll encounter so much heart-bursting beauty and wonder, too!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Our Tandem Breastfeeding Journey (with thoughts on sleep transitions, nursing aversions, and more)

I’ve been thinking some lately about how tandem nursing has gone for us, and thought I’d share our breastfeeding journey. In hopes of encouraging other mamas- mamas who want to press through a hard season and keep going, mamas who’re enjoying a trouble-free breastfeeding relationship, mamas who need to wean. Because we’re all in different places in life…and we all need grace and encouragement wherever we’re at.

I’ve wanted to tandem nurse for a long time. Partially, perhaps, because it seemed like such the “attachment parenting” thing to do. I’m so glad we decided to do tandem; it’s been a blessing for all of us! But I’ve also learned there can be some really difficult aspects (different ones for each of us)…and I’ve learned that many babies self-wean during pregnancy…and I’ve discovered that there are days when I’d be all for encouraging weaning. :-)

Vivi was 8 ½ months old when I conceived Timothy (so 9 months when we found out). That put pregnancy coinciding with starting to offer her solids. Having heard too many “horror” stories of milk supply drying up during pregnancy, I focused as much as possible on introducing fats and proteins. Vivi was very texture-sensitive, so initially, cheese was one of the main forms of protein. I also focused (as much as I could with my picky stomach!) on lots of fats and proteins for me, in hopes that could help keep my supply up. I didn’t have any supply issues during the first trimester, and somewhere between 11 and 12 months, Viviana was eating three meals a day, and often snacks, receiving most of her nourishment from table foods. Nursing was just a comfort thing. She still did plenty of it, but she wasn’t relying on me for food.

I don’t recall if I had more pain issues in the 1st trimester than pre-pregnancy or not. I think some, but nothing major. Vivi nursed more than ever when I got pregnant…I think it was pretty much hourly most days, and she was nursing frequently at night. Sometimes only every few hours, sometimes (during teething, especially), every 45 minutes. Nursing so much during the day was helpful in getting through the morning sickness, since it was a quiet “activity” we could do together.

Sadly, my milk supply dried up in my 2nd trimester. (Two-thirds of women have milk supply dry up during pregnancy. If you fall in the one-third category- enjoy it!) Since Vivi was already fully on table foods I wasn’t worried about it, though, which was a blessing and huge relief. In spite of not getting (much of) anything, Vivi continued to nurse like nothing had changed, all the time. Breastfeeding became more painful, but we stuck with it, because I knew Vivi was in no way ready to wean. Plus, I was still eager to tandem nurse.

In the 3rd trimester, I came head-to-head with my first round of nursing aversion. It was awful, and I felt like such a terrible mother. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me and I just wanted to be normal. I was incredibly blessed when I learned I wasn’t the only one. What sweet relief to know that it was, in a sense, “normal”….and further more, hormonally controlled, and not something that indicated I was just a terrible mom. Later, I read about it in Adventures in Tandem Nursing, which was encouraging and helpful as well.

I only had aversion issues during our nighttime sessions, and basically, my skin would feel like it was crawling, I couldn’t stand for Vivi to touch me, and often just wanted to be as far away from her as possible. I even remember nights of wanting to throw her across the room rather than let her nurse. She loves to caress me while nursing- it’s part of the whole experience for her- and I couldn’t stand it. I felt so guilty and remorseful….but there we’d be the next night, going through all the same feelings, hissing at her to stop touching me if she wanted to nurse. And I’d cry myself to sleep, wishing I could just pull it together and be a good mom. And then we’d repeat. I knew something had to change…especially once I discovered that what I was going through was normal (and can have a tendency to occur sometimes during pregnancy or while tandem nursing), and not just a case of me needing to become a better mom. I was also exhausted from being up so often at night- every 45 minutes at that point. Some nights, my issues would stress Vivi out, making it difficult for her to fall back asleep. So we’d be awake for an hour or more, until I de-stressed and could fully soothe her.

I’m so thankful for Ben during that season! I’m not sure what we would’ve done without him, because I know I don’t have the heart to hold her while she’s crying to nurse, and refuse her. We decided it was time to transition her to being soothed by Ben when she woke at night…in other words, night-weaning her. Me taking care of her wasn’t helping anyone….our breastfeeding relationship wasn’t relaxed and special; it was a duty I did to get by. Breastfeeding during the day wasn’t even fun anymore because it was so painful from nursing around the clock.

That journey feels a bit vague now….it feels like it’s been so long! We ended up switching to Ben putting her to sleep at night as well, because she was having issues falling asleep with me and we thought maybe if she didn’t go to sleep nursing, she’d wake up less. All-in-all, that worked well, and it seemed like she quickly transitioned (within a few weeks or so) to being used to Ben getting up with her at night. We went gradual with every step, and if there was ever an evening when she wasn’t calming down with Ben and being soothed by him, or a nighttime waking where she just seemed to need me….we went with it. Next night, we resumed trying again. I did, and still do, nurse her before she went to bed.

The first week or so of it was really hard emotionally…Ben and I both absolutely dreaded bedtime. We wouldn’t let Vivi get hysterical, but we would let her cry with Ben, since he was there to hold and soothe her. And she did cry. Within a few days, she caught on to the routine and would start crying before they even got to the bedroom. It was hardest when we couldn’t tell why she was crying. Was it just because she wasn’t getting “her way”? Or did she really need me? It was always hard making the call of when to get me to take over. But, once we got through the first week or so, things quickly settled into a pattern and before long she actually enjoyed going to bed with Ben. And we were both totally confident that what we were doing was the best thing for everyone involved, as hard as it was….we knew her emotional needs were being met because Ben was there to soothe her, and we knew that continuing in our old pattern just wasn’t working anymore. I would encourage other parents- with a great dose of caution- going through, or considering going through, a similar stage, to stick with it as long as you feel confident it’s right for you and your baby. It’s hard making transitions- it feels really hard in the thick of it. But often after making one, we look back and think, “Well, that was way easier than we thought it would be!”

Nursing during the day became fun again, and I was so grateful. I really wanted it to be an enjoyable bonding experience! After having the whole night to myself, I was always so eager for her to wake up and nurse in the morning, which was quite a change. It didn’t hurt as much with the nighttime break, either. Things continued status quo, pretty much, till Timothy was born. I nursed her varying amounts during the day, and still nursed her to sleep at naps. I nursed while I was in labor with Timothy….the last time being 3 or 4 hours before he was born (I did it in the pool :-)).

Enter Timothy. The tandem adventure began. I have many, many sweet memories of our journey- it’s been a lot of fun. I nursed them together for the first time during the first day of Timothy’s life, which was a rather special mommy moment. Tandem nursing was a life saver (along with tandem wearing) during the first couple months. It was a great way to meet everyone’s needs at the same time. Usually, nursing solved everyone’s problems, and it forced me to sit down and refocus.

During those first couple months, I often nursed Vivi 6-8 times a day. It worked. For all of us. It helped life to transition, it helped her to know she wasn’t ousted, it met her emotional needs….all while meeting Timothy’s needs. Breastfeeding didn’t hurt nearly as much as it did during pregnancy, either, which was fun.

After that, things started slowing down. And somewhere in there, I started having nursing aversion issues again. I gradually started to encourage Vivi to nurse less, and now she only nurses when she wakes up and before nap and bed, each for 5-10 minutes. Sometimes, at her request, I’ll throw in another feeding or two, but typically it’s just the three. Some would say that isn’t totally baby-led weaning. But it’s what works for us. I want breastfeeding to be pleasurable for both of us- a time of bonding and snuggling. If it isn’t that, we need to find other ways to enjoy each other.

Back to the nursing aversion issues. I want to share, not because I want to scare moms who’re considering tandem nursing. Not because I want to be made out to be a martyr. Not because I want to complain. Not because I want to be criticized for not getting through it better. But because it truly was more refreshing than I can describe to discover I’m not the only one. And I imagine that’s the case for another mama out there. So I hope, in reading, you get to inhale a breath of fresh air, too. I hope you cry tears of joy and relief and know that you really aren’t a terrible mom. Because that’s how I felt, thanks to one mom’s honesty.

My nursing aversion really hasn’t been a huge part of our breastfeeding journey. Most of it has been totally fine, without incident. And sometimes the aversion “symptoms” aren’t a big deal. It’s always been worth fighting through (to a certain degree- along with finding ways to help, like cutting out certain sessions), and we’ve always gotten to see the other side. I wouldn’t trade tandem nursing for a moment, and I think it’s played a key role in helping Vivi adjust to life’s changes.

When I started having issues again- same “symptoms” as before- I was devastated. I just wished I could be normal. I felt like I so badly want to meet my babies’ needs- why won’t my body just cooperate? Why can’t I just break past it and get over myself? But once again, I searched for ways to lessen it without weaning all together. I found it was helpful to shorten (or have the ability to shorten without drama) our nursing sessions when I needed to. The biggest one for that was nap- it was stressful to lay there, feeling all the terrible feelings mounting, but feel like I couldn’t stop nursing or I’d forfeit her nap. It’s only been in the past month that she’s started falling asleep at nap without nursing (and we still have napless days- thanks to trying to work with two babies who each have unique sleep issues/needs)…prior to that, we just got along the best we could.

Now, I stop nursing when I need to, whether that’s 5 minutes in or 10 or something else. And Vivi’s pretty good about not minding. It enables us to continue snuggling or do something fun together- accomplishing what’s really at the heart of extended breastfeeding.

I rarely tandem nurse the babies together anymore, since Vivi mostly nurses when Timothy’s asleep. But sometimes, when I’m nursing Timothy and he latches off, Vivi swiftly leans in for a mouthful. :-) I know I’ll laugh over the memory in future years- she looks so funny twisting herself into whatever position she has to in order to take advantage of the uncovered breast!

I don’t see fully-weaning Viviana anytime soon- nor do I see her self-weaning in the near future. I’m not sure yet about nursing multiples while pregnant or triandem nursing…..I guess we’ll cross that bridge when/if we get there!

P.S. Besides the link I mentioned above, check out Dulce's other post on ideas for dealing with aversions. For that matter, read all her stuff. Her blog is incredibly encouraging if you're into non-mainstream (and even non-typical-Christian) stuff!