My daughter, Cordelia Emily, was born on a fairly typical day, August 17, 2002, at 6:44 PM. Her birth, however, was anything but typical. After laboring at home for several hours, my husband and I finally made the trek to the hospital. After discovering that the baby's heartrate was dangerously low (only about 20 beats per minute), my birth ended in a caesarean section. 7 pound 6.5 ounce Cordelia was born a few minutes later. She was whisked to the NICU a few moments after birth, as they found that she had a large hole in her heart. I wasn't allowed to see her or nurse for several hours following her birth and I quite nearly gave up. When Cordelia was six hours old, she was finally deemed out of the woods and I was finally allowed to see & nurse my baby.
Cordelia has always been a great nurser. She latched on immediately after being brought to me and nursed for about 20 minutes. As an infant, she nursed every few hours, usually for the same amount of time--20 minutes to a half an hour. I had virtually no supply issues and everything was perfect until we started solids when she was eight months old. I suffered a severe supply drop, and my doctor told me to wean her, that she was old enough to be drinking out of a cup. I refused. I was going to do it until a year if I was going to do it at all. I instead took matters into my own hands, researching at the library (we had no Internet at this time) on how to bring my supply back up and stubbornly nursing up to seven times per day. Eventually, with the help of herbs, a supportive network of friends, a wonderful husband and pure determination on my daughter's (and my!) part, my supply became normal again and my daughter was no longer nursing constantly.
Needless to say, we made it past that crazy first year onto year two. At about eighteen months, Cordelia experienced what I can only describe as a nursing strike--she flatly refused, yet she refused whole milk, formula (two words...thank God!) and expressed milk, as well as well as most solids. I just kept offering my breast to her--when she woke up (we were co-sleeping, and did so until she was three and a half), at snacktime, at naptime, at meals, at bedtime, after her bath, for close to 3 months until one day at 21 months, she walked up to me, lifted up my shirt, and took what she wanted. I was amazed. I guess she just had to come around on her own!
August 17, 2004, signalled the beginning of our 3rd year of nursing. This particular year was uneventful in the way of nursing strikes, supply issues, and the other lovely things I'd dealt with in past years, but it was not an entirely smooth journey. The comments started at around 30 months--Cordelia has always been quite big for her age, more advanced linguistically and just generally an old soul. "You're still breastfeeding such a big child? Shouldn't she be off to Kindergarten soon?"
"She's only two and a half," I'd reply wryly, usually lifting up my shirt to offer my nipple to my wild girl. I refused to give up. I didn't care what people thought of me. I was going to keep doing this until Cordelia flatly refused. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be doing it for so long. My mother, bless her, made it to 13 months before she experienced a supply drop and, with no support, was forced to stop nursing me. Other friends, if they'd attempted at all, were lucky to make it past a year. I always assumed I'd be the same.
In April of 2005, I found out I was pregnant with my 2nd child. Cordelia was coming up on three, and we were nursing at that time four, sometimes five times per day. By this point, it had become a comfort thing more than a nutrition thing. If she was upset, you can bet she would nurse until the "bad" feeling subsided. I was experiencing some nipple pain due to my pregnancy--I'd often have to tell her "Stop for a minute, Cordelia!" because the pain was overwhelming. Between that and the nausea, I was convinced the end was near. I consoled myself with the idea that in 8 months, I'd have another baby to nurse. However, Cordelia didn't want to stop, and I refused to wean a child who wasn't ready to wean. Just like with the other challenges along the way, I did like Bob Dylan and kept on keeping on. By 10 weeks, the nausea was basically all gone and the pain had also dulled--or maybe I got used to it. Either way, Cordelia was nursing 4 or 5 times a day until September of 2005, when I was 6 months pregnant. I don't know what happened, but suddenly the 4 or 5 times became two, maybe three. I chalked this up to the fact that she was getting older, having just turned three, until one day she explained "I hafta share with Bean soon. I'm practising ." Oh, okay then.
Isaac Peter, previously known as Bean, was born on December 3rd, 2005, at 9:30 PM. My birth with Isaac was as wildly different from my birth with Cordelia as it could possibly be. Isaac was born at home, into his father's arms. I was able to nurse moments after birth, and shortly thereafter, Cordelia came over and we had our first tandem nursing session. It was pure bliss. I never imagined it would be so wonderful--or so simple.
Isaac was slightly jaundiced at birth, but the midwives were unconcerned. He was a good weight (just under 8 lbs) and he was nursing well. The jaundice faded by itself within a week, and he has had no health problems since.
Tandem nursing has been a wonderful experience. Cordelia is fabulous about sharing her Mum's Milk with her brother--though since Isaac is the one nursing up to fifteen times per day (usually only for a few minutes at a time...he likes to nurse and run (er, crawl)), maybe I should say that Isaac is fabulous about sharing HIS Mum's Milk with his sister. Cordelia, at nearly 4, is still nursing 2 or 3 times per day, more if she's ill or upset. She's gaining independence fast, and I'm not sure how long it will last. Isaac has no problems with his latch and my supply is still great. For the immediate future, at least, things are looking great.
Anyhow, that's my nursing story. I like to think that I've done a great job, and I hope to continue nursing for many years into the future. I hope that my story can prove to be enough of an inspiration (is that cheesy) to other mothers going through a difficult time with nursing that they can perhaps work their way through it.
I close this with a picture of my two booby babies!
my own journal