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You’re Doing WHAT??

Affiliate Disclosure | in Motherhood | by | with 117 Comments

[info_box]Guest Blogger #6: Dianthe Hall. dianthe (with a lower-case d) is Wifey to Kelley and Mommy to Sydney Jane (2) and Myles Emanuel (6 months) – in her spare time (ha-ha-ha!!!) she plans weddings, wastes time on Facebook and Google Reader, chronicles her life at OneOfThoseMoms.com and eats a LOT of ice cream![/info_box]

If you had told me 3 years ago that I would be nursing a toddler, I would have laughed in your face. If you had told me I would be tandem nursing a toddler AND an infant, I might have had you committed. But now that I’m in the thick of it, it might be me that’s headed to the loony bin.

When I first considered the prospect of tandem nursing it seemed easy enough. You’re already feeding one baby, so how hard could it be to feed one more?  Little did I know … there is a HUGE difference between breastfeeding a baby and breastfeeding a toddler!  Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a great experience and I don’t regret it at all. But I’m thinking, hoping, praying we’re headed towards the end.

Maybe I should start from the beginning.

There was never any question that I would breastfeed, but initially I only planned to nurse for 6 months.  I knew all about the recommendation to breastfeed for at least a year but my goal was 6 months.  Sydney and I hit our nursing groove almost immediately so when I hit the 6 month mark, I knew I could make it to a year … but that was it. There was no way I was going to be one of those crazy moms that breastfed walking and talking children!!


But in those next 6 months, something in me changed. And then I met a few of “those” moms. They weren’t hairy, unshowered, tree-hugging hippies. They were regular moms, just like me. And like me, they just wanted what was best for their kids. As Sydney’s 1st birthday approached, she began to wean herself from both the bottle and the pacifier and I figured she would wean herself from me fairly soon too. Our nursing relationship was still going really well, so 18 months became my new cutoff. But when Sydney was 16 months old, I found out I was pregnant.

Breastfeeding while pregnant was completely uncharted territory for me; and apparently, for almost everyone else too. Not only was I getting the “when are you gonna cut her off?” questions, there also seemed to be a big concern as to whether or not breastfeeding while pregnant was safe. My OB had given me the green light to continue breastfeeding, though she did warn me (as had a several friends) that there was a strong possibility that Sydney would self-wean due to the pregnancy related changes in my milk.

At first, I was happy to continue nursing.

Sydney and I had a good thing going and I wasn’t ready for her to quit nursing. But I did expect her to wean based on what everyone had told me. But not my girl!!!  My husband and I went on a 4 day Sydney-free vacay when I was 6 weeks pregnant and I thought that might be the end. But when we got back from Mexico, I don’t know who she was more excited to see: me or my breasts. And that’s when I knew I’d be tandem nursing!

Just in case you’re wondering, breastfeeding through pregnancy is no cake walk. Towards the middle of my pregnancy, I would not have been at all disappointed if Sydney had weaned. To say it was painful would be an understatement. If I could just get past the first minute after she latched on, I’d be okay. But that minute seemed to last an hour and it felt like shards of glass were being pulled through my nipples. I began to cringe every time Sydney asked to nurse. I would try and distract her but she had a one track mind. I had taught her the word nurse early on and she was NOT afraid to use it. And instead of nursing less, she seemed to nurse more and more.

On more than one occasion I considered forcing her to wean.

But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  It wasn’t like Sydney just wanted to nurse. It was as if she needed it. And the closer we got to my due date, the less I wanted to rock the boat. A new baby was going to be a big enough change for the Queen of the World and I didn’t want her to feel like I was abandoning her. And everything I’d read said that children who tandem nursed typically had close relationships with their siblings and I loved the way that sounded!  Plus, I’d actually had an oversupply the first time around and was looking forward to Sydney helping out with that. So outside of my own selfish needs, all I could see were positives – sure I’d be super tired – but who am I kidding?  I worked in morning radio for 6 years and I’d been a mom for the last 2 – how much more tired could I get?

Another tandem mama had suggested I read, Adventures in Tandem Nursing – and even though it had become my tandem nursing bible, I was still a little worried about how it would all play out – but as it turned out, my concerns were misplaced because the transition was seamless … at least in the beginning – I ended up nursing Sydney while I was in labor (which probably helped move things along – lol) and then a few hours later, I nursed Myles minutes after he was born (in the car!) – later that day i nursed Sydney for a few minutes when she came to meet Myles at the hospital (which I was told not to do, but whatever, I’m a rebel!) and then when we came home the next day, I just began to nurse them both – at first, I tried to nurse them simultaneously – the nursing part wasn’t difficult and it seemed to work for the kids, but I was never able to find a truly comfortable position.

So we began to take turns.

Sydney had no problems with the fact that Myles needed to eat first, and when the engorgement hit she was happy to take the foremilk so I could save the fatty hind milk for Myles. Even though she’s only 2, Sydney had no problems comprehending that her baby brother had to nurse because he couldn’t eat real food. Sure, sometimes she would ask Daddy to hold Myles knowing it would free mommy up to nurse. And sometimes she would ask me to put Myles in the swing because she knew she was next in line. But there never seemed to be any animosity towards Myles. She adores her brother and there haven’t been any problems on that front. The problem now is me.

In case you’ve never breastfed before, it takes a lot out of you … both physically and emotionally. In fact, it can be downright exhausting. So imagine what it’s like to breastfeed 2!  Those first couple of weeks, there were days when all I did was nurse – Kelley and I basically traded babies all day long and in between nursing sessions, I tried to remember to eat and sleep. Myles was still sleeping a lot and I was really engorged, so I would encourage Sydney to nurse for a few minutes “to take a little off the top” – plus it gave us some alone time that we might not have otherwise had, so I was okay with it. To be honest, I even enjoyed it – but I also assumed that at some point there would be an end in sight – and so far, that’s yet to be the case.

I’ve now been nursing Sydney for 28 months, and tandem nursing for 6 and she doesn’t seem to be any closer to weaning than she was a year ago – she still asks to nurse several times a day – and while it’s driving me crazy, I have to admit that she is quite polite about it (“Mommy, can I nurse?”). But she is also quite insistent:

“Mommy, can I nurse?”

“In a few minutes.”

“Mommy, can I nurse?”

“In a few minutes.”

“Mommy, can I nurse?”

“In a few minutes!”

“Mommy, can I nurse?”

“I SWEAR IF THIS CHILD ASKS ME AGAIN I’M GOING TO RIP MY ARM OFF AND USE IT TO BEAT MYSELF SENSELESS!!!”

As much as I would like for Sydney to wean, I still feel like I’m fulfilling an emotional need for her rather than merely a physical want – but I’m also starting to feel like there needs to be a light at the end of the tunnel

I am WAY touched out these days and Sydney has become even more touchy-feely if that’s possible. Unlike Myles, who is still content to be held and snuggled while we nurse, Sydney has to do the holding and snuggling – she has to move and reposition herself several times throughout our session and she has to touch me. Not just by resting her hands on me, but by fondling  my (jiggly) belly or arm or elbow or cheek or ear. And it can’t be over my clothes, it has to be actual flesh. Not good for a touched-out Mommy!  She’s also started to get a little lazy with her latch. It’s hard to explain the feeling and while it doesn’t hurt, it is irritating. If we get to the lazy latch point, I tell her that “Mommy’s going to count to 10” and then we’re done. Usually that appeases her, but sometimes it brings on a meltdown and then we have to nurse to calm her down – do you see the cycle?

Sydney also recently potty trained so she’s not sleeping as well as she had been and has taken to coming into our room at 2 or 3am and asking to nurse – and because nursing 2 babies all night long is more than I can currently handle, I’ve taken to lying to her. That’s right, I’m lying to a 2 year old to save my sanity. I either tell her that Mommy’s breasts need a rest (which is true) or that Mommy’s breasts need to make more milk (which is kind of true), so it’s not TECHNICALLY a lie, right?  Instead of nursing, I try to offer to hold her and sometimes that works – but usually when I tell her no, she gets upset and starts to cry which wakes up Myles – then I have to nurse him for at least a few minutes so he’ll go back to sleep which means Sydney still doesn’t get to nurse!! Another cycle. *sigh*

So where do we go from here?

Honestly, I have no idea. If it was up to me, Sydney would already be weaned and Myles and I would continue our perfect nursing relationship. It’s weird, but despite my being ready to end things with Sydney, I still feel like I could breastfeed Myles another year or so. I guess just like everything else with your kids, your nursing relationship is individual to each child. I wish it was as easy as just going cold turkey (which has been recommended to me), but I’m uncomfortable with that idea and I doubt it would work for us anyway. I’ve been told by all of my extended nursing mama friends that nursing is a 2-way relationship and that it has to work for all parties involved.

I’ve also been told that it’s okay to set limits and that it’s okay to tell Sydney “no”. Believe me, I’ve tried. I do a LOT of nursing til “Mommy counts to 10”.  I also tried to implement the “you can only nurse if you’re going to sleep” rule. But the only thing that has done is teach Sydney to say “Mommy, can I nurse?  I’m tired!!” Clearly this child is too smart for her own good!  I think if we could get it down to a session before nap time and bedtime and to calm the occasional tantrum, I’d be okay. But on the days when she is literally begging me to let her nurse all. day. long. Telling her no seems cruel and the guilt gets me every time. So for now, I’ll continue on and pray that I’m not inflicting irreversible damage on her fragile psyche (sarcasm) … and that she’ll wean before she turns 3!

NOTE FROM MOMMYPOTAMUS: Leave a comment below to help Dianthe win the Blog For Mommypotamus and Win Your Own Blog” Contest!

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117 Responses to You’re Doing WHAT??

  1. Margit says:

    So let’s see…Sydney is a girl that knows what she wants, and goes after it. This will serve her very well in life. It’s like she reminds me of someone else who doesn’t capitalize her name.

  2. Amy Hook says:

    I am tired just reading about all the nursing! Keep up being the great mommy that you are.

  3. Anne Marie says:

    WOW! I breastfed 3 kids (not all at once=) ) All three kids are 3 years apart . The best advice anyone could give you is to be consistent. She is too old to slowly wean. She Is old enough to offer rewards (this is coming from a Kindergarten teacher). Think about offering small stuff from a party store every time she can follow through with not bugging you. She now needs another “thing” to comfort her. Maybe a new special stuffed animal?

    Don’t make the mommy guilt bring you down…you have done more than anyone could ask you to do…Be a strong Momma!

  4. Jo Jo says:

    LOVED IT!!!! Thank you SO much for sharing!!!!

  5. What a GREAT post! It’s so nice to know I’m not alone :)… Isn’t it funny how we all make plans in our head, and then life seems to direct us on a different course. I keep telling myself I’m going to stop planning and just go w/ the flow. Easier said than done! It’s so great to hear about the pros of this and watch you considering Sydney’s needs over just yours. I would also love it if you win this contest because your blogs crack me up.

  6. kate saab says:

    This sounds just like me and my babies! I have a 26 month old daughter and a 2 month old son (with birthdays four days apart). I had my daughter only nursing before naps and bed until my son was born and then she went back to nursing a little more often for a couple weeks. Now we are back to when she wakes up, before nap, and before bed. My pediatrician told me to have her weaned by the time my son is 3 months or “she will think she is still a baby and not progress” – Whatever!? That is the silliest thing I’ve ever heard! As tired as I get of nursing her sometimes, I dread the day she is weaned. She is growing up too fast! But I totally know what you mean about the “lazy latch”! Soooooo irritating! I never thought I would tandem nurse either :). I read your birth story, by the way – way to go! Such an amazing birth! Dr. Cindy helped deliver my first baby- she’s the best!

  7. Dawn Jones says:

    Dianthe – You seem to be a wonderful mommy! You always try and do what is best for your children. I don’t know how you manage to be able to nurse 2 kids!! Keep up the good work! I always look forward to seeing that you posted a new entry!!

  8. Monica McHaney says:

    Dianthe, I think your such a great mom and person. I have followed your blogs since your days on KKITM. I work for WIC and we promote BF as much as possible. If only all our moms could do as you have and breastfeed. You are an inspiration. Breast is best, Every ounce counts, even at Sydney’s age!!

  9. Kristie White says:

    Love love your blog…it’s so fun to read up on everything that’s going on in your life. Your kids are precious by the way!! Keep the posts coming!

  10. Mika says:

    Wow! You’re a better woman than I! Way to stick with it :)

  11. piTA says:

    i read all your blogs.. most times i sit in my office and laugh to myself with the occasional tear. but this morning.. i sat here thinking omg shes hit a whole new level of craziness. i dont know how you do it. just sitting here reading, my boobs hurt. and you’re thinking of #3… ESTAS LOCA!!! lol

  12. Breanna says:

    when i have kids i want to breastfeed too but idk about almost 24 months! lol maybe who knows….life has it’s own plans! love you D! :)

  13. Amanda says:

    Oh goodness! I was exhasuted after breastfeeding my twins for 2 months, and remember the soreness of it all. I can not imagine still doing it for a toddler..OUCH!

  14. Sharon says:

    This sounds like an awesome adventure, and your children will cherish this special time that they had with you when they get older. Best wishes to you

  15. alexis ramirez says:

    Hey you are burning alot of calories!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Sarah says:

    Wow girl, you are my hero. Sydney and Myles are two lucky kiddos.

  17. Amy R. says:

    dianthe–while I was reading this, I kept thinking “I hope she sent this to Kellie Rasberry.” It’d probably make her throw up just reading it. lol. (Is she still totally grossed out by bfing?)
    Like you, I never dreamed I would nurse a child through toddler-hood. Nursing a newborn and a sweet little infant, yes. I couldn’t imagine nursing a child who was old enough to run around all over the place and climb play structures or lift up my shirt to ask for it. I certainly couldn’t picture having a child who would actually reach into my bra for self-service. ha! But here I am nursing child #4. I have been pregnant and or nursing my 4 children for 7 yrs now. (Only one is nursing currently.) My 14 month old is an active little girl who has loves PBJ with a little milk to wash it down. She doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to give it up. I am looking forward to the day I can reclaim my breasts as my own, but for now I am happy to use them for the purpose for which they were intended. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I entertain the thought of making them “perky” again once it’s all over though. 😉

  18. Kirsten says:

    I think it’s so interesting and I love hearing you talk about it. But I don’t envy you! Ha.

  19. Tammy says:

    I love you, your a great Mom! Keep on doing whacha doing. I’d still be nursing my 8 yr old, if she had it her way, she was 2.5. Hugs from Fort Worth!

  20. Kelly says:

    I have completely lost track of how many things I’ve ended up doing that I said I would NEVER do. Funny how that happens! :)

  21. April says:

    This is so Awesome! I love reading anything you write. With a 12 year old and a 2 year old it really brings back memories of what I have already been through and what is around the corner! Your great!

  22. Ok, so I have a question and this may be WAY too personal to ask, but you also don’t have to respond. All you Mommy’s that do tandem nursing, it would seem to me that you would be on “touch overload” and “sensory” overload due to SOO much contact. I realize its sweet, but I also know that toward the end of my year long adventure of nursing, I got a bit weary of being “the boob”. So my question is, how have you been able to maintain closeness with your husband? Especially when two people are demanding SO much from you.

    • Heather says:

      Kathryn – I can’t answer for everyone, but I will say that I have been feeling very “touched out” in my first couple of weeks as a tandem nursing mom. Katie wants to nurse as often as my newborn, which is a huge 180 from just a few weeks ago. I know it is part of how she is coping with Micah’s arrival, but it’s really challenging for me! With that said, my relationship with my husband is somehow totally separate. It’s almost embarrassing how much I look forward to getting the “green light” to end our postpartum celibacy : )

  23. Great article. Really enjoyed reading it!

  24. Chrishawn Phillip says:

    Dianthe,
    I have been a huge fan of yours since your KKITM days! I love reading your blogs and admit I LOL while reading most of them! I love your whit and honesty to say what’s on your mind. You have a warm heart and a selfless spirit. While I’m not a mama yet, I hope to be one day and aspire to be as dedicated as you are to your children. Good Luck and I hope you win!

  25. Sarah says:

    I am late to the game but have been following along. I didn’t tandem nurse but did nurse my daughter until she was 19 months. I always said I would let her self wean but I too was getting touched out. I very slowly started weaning her from each session until we were down to one, the one before we start the bedtime routine. She was losing interest in nursing fast at this point and I eventually stopped offering and she didn’t ask. I couldn’t believe the last time was behind me and it was actually a lot easier than I had envisioned. The last one before that that I dropped was the middle of the night.

    I look back now and often miss it but I am also happy that we had such a long wonderful nursing relationship for so long and have such a wonderful bond still. Good luck with whatever ends up happening on the nursing front with Sydney. I commend you for sticking it out for so long.

    I second the kellymom forum for great gentle approaches to nursing and parenting. That place is a wealth of information.

  26. kelley says:

    dianthe, you are an amazing woman! i think you are a superhero or something! reading your blog inspires me to want to be a better mom! i hope you win the contest!!!!!!!

  27. Amy says:

    that’s it…..you are SUPERMOM!! I love you, girl!

  28. angie says:

    you are an amazing mother! your babies are so lucky to have you. you know i only nursed 8 weeks with bri and 5 with cason and honestly at the time the doctors just said as long as you try to make it to 6 weeks your are golden. anyway! i hope you win honey! love you!

  29. Motherof2whew says:

    I nursed both girls for a year. Cece could’ve gone longer….but my supply was less with Pax. All I can say is God bless your breasts and the doctor that will make them perky again! 😉

  30. kellie says:

    I’m just wondering where you found the time to write this blog!! Always love to read what you write. Will you take over for me, too? XO

  31. Carlos says:

    Dianthe, this is an awesome task and I don’t envy you! Your perspective in invaluable though for moms in similar situations.

  32. Angela B. says:

    My goodness, Dianthe. I agree with the posters above. You are Supermom…with boobs of steel. :)

  33. JBall says:

    Dianthe,
    You are super mom. I had four kids and didn’t nurse one; it hurt!!!!
    So my hat’s off to you.

  34. Sister says:

    WOW Donatello…………YOU ARE BEYOND AWESOME! Thanks for taking such good care of my niece & nephew! :)

  35. Jess says:

    I’ve always wondered the details of how mamas make this work. You are an amazing mama!

  36. Tara says:

    Dianthe
    THANK YOU for sharing this part of your life and mommyhood with us. WOW, I get irritated when my lil ones make me stop doing something to get them a sippy cup of milk. 😉 Good luck, it sound like your kids have an OUTSTANDING mommy! Hugs from Texas, Tara

  37. Danea says:

    Dianthe you ARE superwoman!! And I always love hearing your stories, you’re a great writer!!

  38. Joana says:

    You’re a rockstar mom! It sure feels like forever when you’re in the thick of it but some day sooner than we will believe, it will all be a distant memory.

  39. Jamie says:

    I think u are supermom! Thanks for sharing your story!

  40. Gigi says:

    Girl, I don’t know how you do it, but I am amazed. Like others said you are a rockstar :)

  41. Angie Miller says:

    you are carxy, but good for you for even attempting this! not even sure how you do it !

  42. Amanda says:

    Wow! I couldn’t make it past 4 months, 3 times. Congrats & good luck. Amazing. Keep up the Rockstar Mom status.

  43. […] winner of our amazing blog contest, with 90 unique commentors on her post, You’re Doing What?,  is Dianthe Hall. That’s one influential […]

  44. Vickey says:

    You’re one tough woman. I think it’s great.

  45. Katy says:

    I’m totally living this too. My son is SUCH a toucher…I found once I was tandeming, I had to lay down some boundaries. He likes to play with the other nipple while he nurses and that was making my skin crawl and I was getting angry…not the way I want our nursing to be. So, I had to end that. It helps that my daughter is on the other boob most of the time. I also night weaned while I was pregnant–it was fairly painless, and though now he has regressed and comes into our room asking to nurse in the night, I just stayed firm on the “we don’t boo at night time” anymore. I think your lie about the boobs needing rest is actually not a lie…YOU do need rest. I am torn and guilty like you, but I also am aware that when I can’t stand nursing him, it’s not really giving off the vibe I want him to feel when I’m nursing! So I have set the boundaries that allow me to do it without being resentful. It’s so hard. I too find myself hoping he’ll give it up but I see no sign of that!

  46. […] i wasn’t going to be nursing a toddler – and definitely not tandem nursing!  and who would have thought i’d be sitting my baby boy on the toilet before he could […]

  47. Heather says:

    Hi, my name is Heather! Please email me when you can, I have a question about your blog!

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