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Thursday, May 26, 2011

3 Month Update: Tandem Nursing

Keeping two nurslings happy at once, I imagine, is like having to appease two lovers.  It's a little awkward at first, but once you get into the rhythm of things and put your game face on, you can't wait to tell all your friends about it.  My biggest challenge in tandem breastfeeding at three months postpartum, is nursing my newborn while my assertive two and a half year old, also demands to nurse.  Akinyemi's eagerness to continue to nurse on demand makes me doubtful of my parenting:  "Am I not explaining this correctly?";  "Have I not offered him sufficient alternatives?"; "How can I contribute to his self-empowerment and get him to self-soothe?".  
Tandem nursers, two and a half years, and three months old.

Our co-sleeping arrangement has been cut back half the night.  I nurse Akinyemi until my nipples are sore.  Sometimes he falls asleep quickly, but most times I'm not that lucky.  I read him books, tell him stories, sing him songs, or rock him to sleep after a short explanation of why I have to cut the nursing session. All the while, I hope my easily-awoken newborn, Itzix is not scared by his screaming, crying, or my singing.  When he finally falls asleep in his little bed, Itzix usually wakes up to nurse.  I take him with me to bed, think of all the things I'm too tired to do, and we drift off to the place of dreams.  Akinyemi usually wakes up as soon as I fall asleep.  Lately, he's been so tired that he won't cry for chichi.  He just asks for 'brazo, mami, 'brazo! I contort my body for his hug until he falls asleep, still nursing Itzix on the other side.  Trying to slip my arm out without waking him feels like I'm a teenager sneaking out of the house: bad; exciting; and liberating! When Sherm comes to bed, he'll sleep on my thighs, hips, or I'll make space for him to spoon me.  We need a bigger bed.  I wake up with a sore back, stiff hips, and a kink in my neck, but the pain subsides with yoga or a little stretching.
Nursing Itzix at the farmer's market, exhausted Akinyemi asks for "la otra".

In public, Akinyemi only asks to nurse when he's really tired or uncomfortable.  If there's someone to keep Itzix occupied, and my nipples aren't sore, I'll nurse him, but it's been happening less.  Sherman and I are bumping heads on alternatives to nursing.  Pizza crust is not a healthy snack, taking cheese off of pizza doesn't make it vegan, and chicken with every meal is setting our son up to be a little obese American with diabetes at age 4 (yes, we have unresolved issues regarding diet).  I let Akinyemi nurse when he wakes up, to detox.  I know he has too much leche de mama to drink when his bowels are really loose (breastmilk is a natural laxative).

It's still a nightmare to recall those first couple of months postpartum, when Akinyemi was so disregulated that he'd cry, scream "Mami, help!", and beat his father for trying to soothe him.  Akinyemi is nursing only when he really needs it, or when I feel comfortable enough.  He loves nursing when Itzix nurses, and sometimes it's beautiful to watch the two of them- wide-eyed, feasting, and grabbing each others' hands.  Akinyemi thinks it's hilarious that his baby brother can touch and feel him.  He looks up at me, smiling with my nipple in his mouth to make sure I'm watching and enjoying the moment along with them.  I am, baby, I am.

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