For the last 6 months I’ve (Machelle) watched as two friends continue to nurse their first baby through their 2nd pregnancy. They also plan to tandem feed once baby #2 comes along. I looked at these two moms with envy. It was like watching a big sister. “One day, that will be me!” I was ready to join the special club, and hop on the tandem nursing train. I too could be the “Ultimate Badass Breastfeeder”.
It’s taken me a week to process how I feel about what is happening- I cried for days, but now I’m coming to a point of healing.
Why? Why did I want to do this when I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to nurse at all? Then I reached 3 months, then 6 months, then 12- and then suddenly I was nursing a 14 month walking talking toddler.
But that’s normal in my village. Lots of moms nurse into toddlerhood- and if they can do it, I can too.
We knew we wanted another baby, so we started seeing a new infertility doctor in town right after EJ turned a year old. My new specialist was actually very supportive of me continuing to nurse while taking infertility medications. I had done my research, weighed my options, and decided I was comfortable nursing EJ through infertility treatments, pregnancy and beyond.
After 12 months, EJ continued nursing and I continued pumping. However, her primary nutrition source was clearly food.
At 12 months I stopped nursing her at her school. She would get very upset when I left and I didn’t want her to get off their schedule and cry for the rest of the day. She wasn’t even nursing much when I came anyway, mostly wanted to play.
At 13 months my supply started dropping a bit because of the fertility medications, but EJ still nursed on. I stopped pumping at work- but she nursed in the morning, when I got home and at night. We did our first round of medicated IUI (insemination) with clomid and a “trigger shot”. I was convinced I was pregnant- but period came. That two week wait can be a real misleading bitch.
The nice thing about infertility is that if you fail, the turnaround time to start working on the next cycle is 3 days. So you don’t have much time to be upset that you didn’t get pregnant that month, because by day 3 of your period you start the hormones again to try, more ultrasounds to see follicles, blood work to track levels, inseminate again, and before you know it- you’re back in your two week wait.
We inseminated on November 16th.
And I had no symptoms. Nothing. In fact, since I got my positive with EJ at 9 DPO, on day 10 this time since I was still negative and no sign of symptoms I figured, “Well, this month is out…” and drank a huge espresso drink from Starbucks.
The next day I was volunteering at the hospital as a breastfeeding peer counselor. On the way to the hospital something just told me to “Go by Walgreens, get a test, and a gift bag to wrap it up in…”
I peed on the test in the staff bathroom before I started working and to my surprise- a very visible 2nd pink line appeared.
But I couldn’t tell anyone. I had to wait until my 4 hour shift was over. On the way home, I wrapped it in the gift bag and gave it to Mary to open.
Still cautious of course, but excited. That was on Sunday 11/27.
EJ’s nursing took a sharp dip. I figured it was teething. She nurse a little on Monday, and maybe twice on Tuesday. She would latch for 1-2 seconds and then come off crying. She refused on the 30th and the 1st. I was devastated. She just stopped. She would turn away from the breast if I tried. I cried.
Thinking it was a nursing strike, I tried hand expressing- then I tasted my milk on Friday the 2nd. What once tasted like vanilla creamer now tastes like warm ocean water. No wonder she hates it.
I was completely unprepared for this. And I can’t process this sudden weaning with my village, because I’m scared to tell them I’m pregnant. What if I lose the baby? Then I’d have a toddler who weaned and no baby. I felt like she hated me. That our bond was just severed so fast. She, actually, didn’t seem upset at all. She didn’t cry to nurse, or even “ask”. She just stopped.
I texted a couple of friends to process this. But I felt like I was in the weaning closet. I wasn’t ready to tell people why she weaned…but I don’t want to lie and make it seem like we are still nursing.
I felt so guilty. I wanted babies close together so she would tandem. I felt like the village outcast. Everybody else could do it. But me.
So after a few days of crying, I calmed down.
It’s not my fault, I had the best of intentions. It was EJ’s decision, and who can blame her with such salty milk? It’s okay to grieve a relationship that ended before I was ready. Many people would have loved to be able to nurse their baby for 14 months.
I decided I needed to focus on building our bond in other ways the next 9 months before our world really changes. And I’ll probably have a huge over supply again and I can just put my extra in her cereal, right?
The plan was we’d find out we were pregnant, and I would nurse through pregnancy, then tandem with a flower crown in a field like some lactation goddess. But that’s not my reality- and since I can’t change it, I just have to change the way I think about it.