Luca is now aged 2 years, 8 months and Jonah is 15 months. Both boys are still happy little breastfeeders and I am still a happy breastfeeding mama (most of the time). The occasional difficulty or frustration I experience as a tandem feeding mother is always far outweighed by the benefits and pleasures that are a part of our breastfeeding adventure.
In my last article I wrote about the nasty and frequent experiences I have had with mastitis this year, and I finished the paragraph with: Let’s hope that that is the last of the breast infections for the year. Unfortunately, I landed myself another breast infection just a couple of weeks later. Jonah and Luca were both very ill with a nasty winter virus which made them incredibly lethargic and scarily feverish. Five days into the illness, Jonah was struggling to get enough oxygen into his lungs and feeding became simply too exhausting for him. I took him to our GP who called for an ambulance to take him to the hospital ED… so off we went, Jonah with an oxygen mask and nebuliser, and me sporting a sore red breast (hardly surprising given the stress I had been experiencing and the lack of feeding that was going on).
Jonah had to spend two days and nights in hospital and I, of course, stayed with him. When we arrived at the ED the registrar wanted to put a nasogastric (NG) tube down Jonah’s nose and into his stomach so that Jonah wouldn’t have to waste any vital energy breastfeeding. I countered that the experience of breastfeeding is a very comforting one for Jonah and that if the oxygen he was inhaling was helping with his breathing that he might not find breastfeeding as exhausting as it had been. I requested that we at least allow him the opportunity to try breastfeeding a couple of times to see how he coped before resorting to the NG tube. Thankfully Jonah fed well and the NG tube was never required. I felt so relieved that through all the trauma of being so sick and finding himself in an unfamiliar environment with strangers continually poking and prodding him, at the very least he had that reassuring comfort that breastfeeding offers. Plus, my sore, red breast was in great need of his wonderful suckling action (pumping is never as effective as my boys are at milking my breasts).
I was pleasantly surprised at how accommodating the hospital staff were regarding meeting Jonah’s needs as a breastfeeding and emotionally distressed little person whose Mum wanted to nurture him as fully as she could. They seemed completely fine about me wanting to bring Jonah into bed with me overnight and they assisted all they could with supplying gears for me to express breast milk. The only staff member who failed to impress me was the self righteous paediatrician who saw fit to berate me for choosing not to vaccinate my child (all the other staff, despite what they may have been thinking, pushed the ‘issue’ no further when I said that choosing not to vaccinate was an informed decision).
After his stint in hospital Jonah continued to have a niggly cold and cough for another month. This meant that his night sleeps became a lot more broken and, consequently, so did Mark’s (Jonah’s Dad) and mine. To add to this, Jonah has been teething pretty constantly for a while now. In fact the last of his teeth (a bottom eye tooth) before his two year molars, looks set to rupture through the gum any day now. As a result of the miserable state my poor little guy has been in for some time, I resorted to feeding him through the nights again (I night weaned him before my surgery 4 ½ months ago). Once that last tooth has come through I will try dropping the night feeds again and see if I can get Jonah back into a more restful nights sleep. And then maybe Mark will join me back in our bed again too – he has been sleeping with Laura for weeks now just to ensure he gets enough sleep.
Breastfeeding has become an increasingly tactile experience for Jonah. He loves to stroke the skin on my upper chest and belly with his little chubby fingers as he feeds. It’s a lovely experience that I am treasuring while it lasts. Unfortunately, his touch frequently gravitates towards three of my moles which he just can’t seem to stop himself from playing with quite aggressively, despite my terse protests.
Luca, on the other hand, continues to insist on playing with my hair while he feeds. I can foresee that Luca’s weaning process will be a two-part one – weaning him off the breast then weaning him off the hair-play. On a few of the occasions that I have denied him a breastfeed he has chosen to cuddle up and play with my hair instead. It makes me think of how cats still like to rhythmically prod soft bedding in the same way that they would have prodded their mother’s soft belly while they fed as kittens.
Although Luca is only feeding three times a day most days (early morning, before his day nap and before his night sleep), he is still very emotionally attached to breastfeeding. When I try to imagine how weaning him might ‘look’, it is never a pretty picture. The only way I can see myself weaning Luca without it causing him too much upset is by weaning Jonah at the same time. I just think it will be too torturous for Luca to see Jonah feeding once he is no longer given the same pleasurable opportunity. Just to clarify, I don’t have any intention of weaning my boys anytime soon, it’s just something I find myself thinking about at times.