In Their Own Words: Tanya + Tandem Nursing
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In Their Own Words: Tanya + Tandem Nursing

"In Their Own Words" is a blog series we share to bring you "real life" experiences, written by other mothers about their families.  Would you like to share your story? Please email me at krystyna{at}sweetpeabirths{dot}com to get started.

Breastfeeding Series: In Their Own Words on the Sweet Pea Births blog...Birthing From Within and Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: convenient to Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson
Before I had children, I thought that tandem nursing was something a mother did with twins, or triplets, etc. Little did I know! 

After my first daughter was born, I went from thinking I would just nurse until she was one, to feeling sad that she self-weaned at 22 months while I was pregnant with my second daughter. I never knew how much I wanted to tandem nurse until I wasn’t able to do it. 

When I became pregnant with my son, I thought I might get the chance for tandem this time around. However, my second daughter self-weaned at 17 months. I felt this was far too early and was even more disappointed (Though the nipple aversion was getting pretty difficult!). 

My son was born when my second daughter was 23 months and to my surprise, 6 weeks later she decided to re-latch while in the bath tub with me one day. From then on she wanted to nurse at least 3 times a day. 

I was blown away! I had never heard of a former nursling re-latching. I proceeded to join an online tandem nursing group because I was unable to find much help at my normal breastfeeding group regarding tandem nursing. 

Breastfeeding Series: In Their Own Words on the Sweet Pea Births blog...Birthing From Within and Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: convenient to Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson
So here I was with my amazing tandem nursing that I had always wanted and I was MISERABLE!!!  It was so difficult because not only did I have an infant who was waking about 3 times a night to nurse, but now I had a 2-year-old who magically started waking up to nurse. There were many nights where I fell asleep with them hanging off me and my nipples just felt stretched to the limits.

My 2-year-old wanted to nurse almost as much as my infant did many days, and in the books I read there was no discussion about this behavior.  I went to my Le Leche League group and they suggested different ways of setting nursing limits. 

Slowly I began working on nursing limits with her, and over the course of a year-long tandem journey, I was able to get a few limits set. However, breastfeeding had become so much more of a struggle than I had ever experienced in my 4+ years of nursing.  I had always just followed my children’s cues and we seemed to have an unspoken understanding of one another when it came to nursing. 

This tension and dislike for nursing was uncharted territory for me and I began feeling such guilt. Guilt that I no longer understood my daughter. Guilt that I wasn’t having the same positive nursing experience with her that I had the first time around. Guilt that I was letting myself become so burnt out and stressed that I wasn’t being the mommy that I wanted to be for any of my children.

Breastfeeding Series: In Their Own Words on the Sweet Pea Births blog...Birthing From Within and Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: convenient to Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, PaysonI think in hindsight, I got caught up in my head thinking I should be able to handle more because I have been through breastfeeding struggles. I had gone to classes and learned so much about breastfeeding. I was a seasoned mother according to most, and I felt that I should be able to handle so much more than when I was a brand new mom with a newborn. 

But...I was a sleep deprived mom with a husband working out of town. He was only home 4-7 days out of the month from the time our son was 6 weeks until he was 5 months and then again from 11-13months.  So I was a single, tandem-nursing, homeschooling mom of 3 during the week and a basket case during the one or two days my husband would come home.  My adrenaline kept me going through the week, but I would collapse many a Saturday either emotionally or physically (or both). 

Breastfeeding Series: In Their Own Words on the Sweet Pea Births blog...Birthing From Within and Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: convenient to Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson

The truth is that at any stage of parenting it can get so hard and overwhelming and out of control. It is OK to ask for help! It is OK to complain to others! It is OK for things to not be OK!  I reached out to a few moms toward the end of my tandem nursing journey and complained that my almost 3-year-old was acting out so much more, regressing in her behavior, I was sleep deprived, I was resenting having to nurse two children…and you know what they told me…

It is OK to stop when the breastfeeding relationship is not working for both. At first I scoffed because “hey…this was my job. I don’t get to say that I AM tired of it. I have to wait until SHE weans, right?!?”

This is the biggest misconception I have felt and have heard others talk about. Now two months after our tandem nursing journey has ended I see that not only do I have a better relationship with my three-year-old but she has an amazing bond with her brother because of that tandem nursing. 

She is NOT damaged because I initiated weaning. She is thriving immensely! She is now potty trained (which was near impossible while she was nursing-she wanted no part of it), she is once again sleeping through the night, she has stopped doing the baby talk she had been doing AND we get to have a new way to have that special time together (which is a great thing for the middle child of the family). 

I am beyond grateful to have been able to extend my nursing journey through tandem nursing. I was able to nurse my two younger children together through the flu this past winter and they recovered far quicker than any of their friends (some who had to be hospitalized for dehydration). 

I am thankful that tandem nursing provided an easier transition for my middle child from baby of the family to big sister. But most of all I am thankful for the lesson I learned. 

I had a preconceived notion of how my nursing journey was supposed to go: I was supposed to happily tandem nurse until my middle child easily weaned herself.  I learned that just because that was not how it went, it did not make me less of a mother or her nursing experience less positive or less beneficial. It has to be a balance, just like everything in life.

Thank you to TANYA for sharing about her tandem breastfeeding journey today <3 I hope it has touched you and inspired you in some way, and that you will take heart and courage in your own breastfeeding journey.

Phoenix La Leche League: Live, Latch, Love
As part of the LLL area conference
August 26th, 5-7 PM
Embassy Suites Biltmore
La Leche League Conference
August 26-28, 2016
Embassy Suites Biltmore

Birthing From Within and Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: convenient to Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson
The material included in this blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog and related videos contain information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained in this video and on our blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

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