Category Archives: Pregnancy

Reflections on the birth of our son: Part two.

Wow. What a whirlwind. The tagline of this blog has never seemed more true. I’ve had every intention of writing for days about the past week, but our minutes and hours—rightly so—have been spent caring for our three, very needy children. Turns out adding a third baby to the mix brings levels of whining, screaming, crying, and clinging to all sorts of new and extreme heights; everyone needs a little more love and hugs, as well as patience and kindness these days.

I wanted to capture a few more memories from the past week while everything is still fresh in my mind. In another week or so, there’s no trusting what will remain.

Laboring at home is far more comfortable than laboring in the hospital. This past Tuesday, the morning of Rowan’s birthday, I awoke at 4:00 with contractions. Although I remained hopeful, I wasn’t sure what to expect given my body had begun false labor already once before.

However, two hours later, after contractions started coming with increasing frequency and intensity, I made the decision to call in to work to request a sick day. This was it! I spent much of the morning pacing the house trying to think of last minute things that needed to be done. Apparently, there was nothing to be done. I got bored. Restless.

We went for a walk around the neighborhood. Frances held my hand for much of it, stopping along with me when I needed to take breathing breaks. Nora rode her tricycle and Liam pushed an empty double stroller, should one or both of the girls tire of walking. In the end, Frances made it the whole way, and Nora needed only to be towed up the steep hill while hanging onto the stroller strap as Liam pushed, a sight funny enough to bring smiles and laughter from everyone, especially when Liam’s swift, unbalanced tugging, threatened to overturn her a time or two.

When we got home, I nursed Frances, hoping to bring about more intense contractions. Success! Several times I had to employ deep breathing techniques just to get through. Although her mouth was occupied with sucking, she managed to copy the sound and intensity of my breathing, through her nose. After the contractions passed I was laughing out loud at her show of solidarity.

We later all moved down to the basement for a change of scene. Liam worked on a playlist of tunes to keep us occupied both at home and in the hospital. He later admitted that he was going to include some of Nora’s favorite Mary Poppins and Frozen songs just for fun, to see what my reaction would be. Although I’m sure it would have brought great amusement for him to hear the songs, I’m happy to report I didn’t have to suffer listening through them at the hospital. Not that I was really all that aware of music in the background anyway.

In the basement, I broke out the yoga mat and the exercise ball, deciding to labor on my hands and knees for a change. Nora did some downward dog with me and was moved too, like her sister, to be a breathing partner. Totally hilarious. But also a testament to how powerful breathing can be.

A little before noon I decided it was time for us to head in to the hospital. We called Candace, our neighborhood sitter, and savior, to come and stay with the girls.

I was disappointed to find when the midwife first checked me, at noon, that I was only two c.m. dilated (they wouldn’t admit us until I reached four c.m.). She gave us the choice to walk the hospital grounds or to go back home and return in a couple of hours. After some indecision, we decided to stay. I couldn’t shake the feeling that things were progressing, and fast. The midwife said she would be back to check me in two hours, at 2:00 p.m.

Since it was a sunny and mild day, Liam and I decided to head outside to walk. And also, because it was a little unnerving and humiliating to be having intense contractions in front of hospital visitors and employees in the halls of the hospital.

Very quickly the contractions progressed to where I had to stop walking and lean on Liam for support. I began to feel nauseous toward the end of every contraction, so we decided to head back inside. An hour had passed—it was only 1:00 p.m. I asked the triage nurse if there was any way the midwife could come back to check me early. She said no, that if I wasn’t further along, they would definitely send me home. She preferred we wait until 2:00.

So, Liam and I headed back into the very small, very uncomfortable room, where I had only the surface of a small counter to rest my head upon, or be in bed. After I threw up in the sink (take that you disbelieving hospital staff!) I climbed into bed, trying not to be sad and angry and disappointed that this was to be my laboring experience for the next hour, instead of having the privacy and space and resources (birthing ball, walking space, yoga mat, whirlpool, labor and delivery nurse) of a proper labor and delivery room.

I went into my breathing trance and waited as patiently as I could until the midwife came to check me, and found I had progressed to five c.m. This was a little after 2:00. By the time they were finally able to admit us to a room, I was a little over an hour away from when Rowan would be born. At this point, my sister, Melissa, had joined us in the room to offer support.

The charge nurse tried to start an IV in my hand (unnecessary since I did not need antibiotics and wanted to go natural), but after blowing veins in both hands, gave up. The other labor and delivery nurse (this amazing woman who was present for part of both girls’ births as well) started a whirlpool tub for me, which I would never get to use on account of the swift progress my body was making.

At eight c.m. the midwife decided to break my water. Not long after, following several more contractions and controlled pushes, I was able to hold our son in my arms. What a relief! He cried a sweet and loud little cry for almost the whole hour he was with me. He did take to nursing a few times, which was great…and quiet.

 

And then there were three. The girls love their baby brother. Nora insists she can take care of Rowan by herself. In her mind, this means she can watch him from the couch as he sleeps peacefully in his chair. She likes to snuggle him and kiss him and put stickers all over his clothing. She is fond of singing him songs and trying to calm him with her endless chatter when he cries.

Frances loves holding Rowan. She sits patiently with arms outstretched and seems amazed by his features and noises and very presence. She gets distressed when he cries, wanting to make him feel better in any way she can. She is clearly the one who is suffering the most from this transition. No longer our baby, she is learning that we can’t always respond to her every need. She wants to be held a lot and has a renewed and vigorous interest in nursing. Indeed, our tandem nursing is off to a good start. How long we will be able to keep it up remains to be seen. But, for now, we are all mostly happy and thriving.

Our patience has been tested countless times since we’ve come home from the hospital. And, things have indeed gotten quite tense here in our small house. However, our hearts are full with gratitude, and we are trying to be intentional about holding on to the effortless moments, full of warmth and love, to see us through the chaotic, trying times when we find ourselves asking: What in the hell were we thinking?

Hell hath no fury like a pregnant, nesting woman whose husband has just asked her: Is it really necessary to vacuum the house right now?

Here’s the thing. When the weekend rolls around I’ve got a general list in my head of things I’d like to get accomplished. The list is always lofty. Ideally, I’d like to get everything done. However, time and time again has proven this is next to impossible. So, I try to prioritize, do what I can, and be OK with the fact that a lot goes undone.

This weekend was especially busy. We decided to throw a small birthday party for Nora yesterday. We’d been back and forth about whether or not to invite several of her little friends and rent out some space to do something different. In the end, we kept things simple and just planned dinner and cupcake decorating with family. It was perfect. I’m glad we didn’t have to stress over the added planning and cost of something bigger. We can consider that next year, maybe, when the threat of a baby dropping at any time is no longer a concern.

Still, I was on my own with the girls all day Saturday as Liam had to work. We tackled trips to the local market as well as the grocery store for eats for the week. My only stressors at these two stops were toting around heavy bags and keeping watch for my almost two-year-old who thought it was all fun and games to try walking away from her mother amidst crowds of people every chance she got.

We also stopped at the beer and wine stores. Both times I left the girls out in the car while I ran inside, against my better judgment and anxiety issues. I just couldn’t deal with unbuckling and buckling them into car seats one more time.

When I came out of the wine shop, longer than I had planned to be away, since the knuckleheads running the joint couldn’t seem to get themselves to the check-out line in a timely fashion, I asked the girls if they’d done alright in my absence. Nora insisted they had. When I asked what they had talked about, she giggled quickly and told me simply: hotdogs. Of course. Why not?

When we made it home and got the groceries put away, I tackled the giant task of cleaning the kitchen, which had been left in shambles from dinner the night before. After that, I started the task of getting chili prepped for the slow cooker.

After that, I fixed lunch for the girls and bustled about straightening up the rest of the house. At naptime, the girls and I climbed into bed together. Every part of my body was insisting I stay under the covers, off my feet, and horizontal. However, there were things to be done, and a timeline by which they needed to be finished.

So, after the girls nodded off, again, against my better judgment, I heaved myself out of bed and waddled off to the kitchen to begin making cupcakes.

In between batches, I vacuumed the living room and dining room, figuring I could save the bedrooms, which had already been neglected for at least a week, if not longer, for the next day.

Things were finally looking to be in place for the party. All was good—that is, if one overlooked the fact that my legs had begun to swell heavily over my socks, my back ached so much I was starting to hunch over, and indeed limp about, and was Braxton-Hicks-contracting every fifteen minutes or so. It was nearly five o’clock and, apart from putting the girls down at nap time, I hadn’t sat down once since seven that morning. I found myself starting to offer up prayers I wouldn’t go into labor any time soon, since my body would likely be so exhausted it wouldn’t be capable of doing the hard and necessary work of labor.

In the end, the evening was great. We had a nice time with my family and Nora had a great little birthday celebration. I was able to overlook the fact that I nearly needed a crane to get me out of the bathtub after our guests left, and that I didn’t get my writing done, and even, that as of this morning, Sunday, I still was not walking correctly due to aching back pain. Thankfully, the stiffness eased up as the day wore on.

For the most part, we were all able to hunker down today and rest. Especially Nora, who, just after rising this morning, went straight to the toilet to puke. At first, we thought it was the mammoth chocolate, candy covered cupcake she had eaten last night. She’s had an isolated puking incident from eating too many sweets once before. However, after the third, fourth, fifth and maybe sixth trip to the bathroom, we were convinced she had gotten some kind of bug. Poor girl. She spent more time on the couch today than anybody. At least she was able to celebrate her party in good health. Fingers crossed, nobody else gets this thing. It’s been a hell of a winter for illness for this family.

In between resting on the couch and taking a much needed nap, I still tried to tackle items on the list in my head. Several loads of laundry got done and folded and put away. We cleaned our sheets and made our bed (always a family affair). The bathroom has been disinfected from pukey germs.

I didn’t get around to baking granola or scheduling a last-minute prenatal massage, but I’ll live. And then, just when I was ready to get the vacuum out one last time to run it across the bedroom floors, the husband looked to me and said, “Is it really necessary to do that now?”

I took a deep breath and gave him a look. I said simply, through gritted teeth, “Yes, it is.” Though I wanted to say, with fire breathing from the pit of my stomach, “If you’re not going to do it for me, without me having to ask, then back the fuck away and let me go about my damn business!”

Like I said, I have a list in my head of things I’d like to get done, and vacuuming is generally a high priority item. I know Liam was coming from a good place, wanting me to rest and not take on yet another chore. He must think I am really a nut-job to be bustling about the house like I do,  when we both know how uncomfortable I am. But, this is our third time around. Doesn’t he know by now I am going to nest as I please, so he should either accept it, without comment, or step in and offer to do whatever I’m doing himself? Sheesh. Apparently not. Let’s hope this dragon doesn’t have to remind him about it anytime soon!

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Hanging out before the party. Trying not to get in Mommy’s way.

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Decorating the cupcakes with icing my sister and I tried to make purple, but which the kids just kept referring to as gray. Lovely.

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Our minimalist sprinkler. Unlike the bigger kids who piled on the toppings, Frances was fond of adding just a little bit of one candy.

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The happy birthday girl.

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Four!

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The dainty eater. It took her almost fifteen minutes to eat this thing. The other kids left her in the dust.

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She might look dainty, but she can wolf down some food.


 

Doing the bare minimum. No extra flair here!

I haven’t seen the movie Office Space in years and years, but I’ve watched it enough times to have bits of it memorized.

The past few days I keep recalling the scene where Jennifer Aniston’s waitress character argues with her boss about the amount of ‘flair’ she is wearing on her work uniform suspenders. The flair is just a name for the fun pins and buttons the waitstaff are encouraged to wear to express their individuality or something. The boss requires each employee to wear a minimum amount of flair—fifteen pieces—which Aniston’s character does, but then he’s always on her about wanting her to wear more, but without every actually coming out and saying so. One of their hilariously awkward encounters goes like this:

Stan: We need to talk. Do you know what this is about?

Joanna: My, uh, flair?

Stan: Yeah, or, uh, your lack of flair. Because, I’m counting and I only see fifteen pieces. Let me ask you a question, Joanna.

Joanna: Mmm-hmmm.

Stan: What do you think of a person who only does the bare minimum?

Joanna: Huh. What do I think? Um, you know what, Stan, if you want me to wear 37 pieces of flair, like your pretty boy over there, Brian, why don’t you just make the minimum 37 pieces of flair?

Stan: Well, I thought I remembered you saying that you wanted to express yourself.

Joanna: Yeah. You know what, yeah, I do. I do want to express myself, okay. And I don’t need 37 pieces of flair to do it. [she gives Stan the finger]

Joanna: All right? There’s my flair! Okay? And this is me expressing myself, okay? There it is! I hate this job! I hate this goddamn job and I don’t need it! [she storms out]

So why has this scene in particular been playing out in my mind recently, you ask? Because I have no flair any more these days. I can do no extra, be no more than the bare minimum.  And, I’m surprisingly OK with this.

At work, I find myself wanting to hide under my desk and nap all day long. If no students were to show up at my door for instruction, I wouldn’t go seek them out, or complain about it. Instead, I’d offer up silent prayers of thanks, and sit about rejoicing in my lucky fate. Like a woman who’s all too aware of her impending retirement (or, rather, maternity leave, in my case), and overwhelmed by teaching demands, and general physical and emotional exhaustion, I have checked out, so to speak. I may be showing up on a day-to-day basis, but there’s not a whole lot going on behind the great and powerful curtain.

Likewise, at home, I am all about simply surviving—just getting by. Sit on the couch or at the table coloring pictures for an hour? Great! Leftovers for dinner? Check! Take a bath for an hour and then sneak away to the bedroom to lie down while the hubs plays endless games with the girls? Absolutely. Dirty dishes left out on counters and tabletops? No problemo. Laundry not been done in days and days? Ain’t no thang.

Gratefully, my mom and our sitter, both of whom spend time watching the girls in our home, do a phenomenal job of cleaning and tidying up the house while we are at work. They make it so it’s easy to relax when I come home. Also, l’m fortunate to have a partner who can pick up the slack now that I’m getting more and more tired earlier and earlier in the day.

Taking it one day at a time over here. And hoping I don’t have to flip anyone off for attempting to get me to do any more than I’m capable of doing right now—just the bare minimum, please.

Anxiety Episodes #9 through #13 (all in a day’s work): Making orphans of the kids, and a variety of unexpected, undesirable birthing scenarios.

#9: One of my first fears upon leaving the girls for an overnight last night was: What if something happens to Liam and to me? Like, we get in a car crash, or kidnapped by terrorists, or killed in a drive-by shooting. What then? We really need to make a will.

#10: What if my labor begins away from home, in Philadelphia? Would we just stay and stick it out there? (I made sure the hotel in which we had a reservation was close to a hospital. Also, I insisted we bring the hospital bag with us as well as the baby car seat, despite funny looks from both my father and my husband. Always, always be prepared.) Or, do we try to chance it and drive back, giving rise to Anxiety Episode #11, risking birthing a baby on the road, in the car, and/or following a police escort of some kind.

#12: Because Liam had to stay in Philadelphia for an event late tonight, I decided to take a train home to be with the girls at home early-ish on a school night. He stayed with the car. Of course, as soon as he dropped me off at the station, I started to wonder: What if my water breaks on the train and I deliver just seventeen minutes after that? (Why seventeen minutes? Seems someone I know must’ve recently had this experience. Not the whole train thing, but the water breaking and delivering soon after). That would be so mortifying. And I’d be without my partner. Such a mess.

#13: I got to my parents’ house safely, thanks to my dad, who was able to come and pick me up at the train station. No water broke and no babies had to be delivered by strangers in a confined train car. While I was at my parents’ house, I was able to put my feet up for a bit, enjoy some dinner, and tackle some lesson planning for the week ahead. After snuggling with the girls for a bit, I even got to enjoy a bath. When I finished the bath, I just couldn’t fathom squeezing back into my skinny maternity jeans, or my tall boots, the only clothing I had with me. Instead, I scavenged around the house for a comfy pair of black sweatpants. I’m not sure who they belong to, but they fit! In addition, I asked my mom if I could borrow a pair of flip flops. But, the only shoes she had available were fairly dressy, but still casual, black weaved, open-toed sandals with a slight wedge. I looked so ridiculous in those sandals paired with sweatpants paired with t-shirt and bulky sweater. Although, I was super comfortable. Of course, my sinking fear was that I’d be in the middle of the drive home and get stopped or arrested, or go into labor and have to appear in public in front of others feeling ashamed and embarrassed due to my state of dress.

Alas, both Liam and I are safely home at our house now with the girls. They are wild and wired and out of sorts due to the time change. We hope to make it to bed, all of us, before midnight.

I am not planning on leaving town again in the next few weeks, or wearing any ridiculous outfits, apart from what I choose to wear in the comfort and privacy of my own home, thus eliminating the possibility of the above anxiety episodes from occurring again. It was all worth it. We had a great, if brief, little trip to the big city. Below are just a few photos to highlight our day together.

We got to enjoy Mass this morning without any kind of distraction, or giving of snacks to little children, listening to crayons drop on the floor, or the crinkling of Ziploc bags and whispers and whines. It was pretty incredible, actually.

Enjoying breakfast with the birthday boy at one of our favorite spots—the inspiration for this trip, actually. I chose the hotel and last night’s dinner restaurant based on their proximity to this place. The best breakfast sandwiches EVER.

Our last stop of the afternoon: The Barnes Foundation. This is a museum Liam has wanted to visit for some time. It’s the first time we’ve done an audio tour in a place like this. We both scoffed at the idea at first, but the iPod/headphone set provided tons of relevant and engaging information we would have not gotten in viewing the paintings and art alone.

My least favorite thing right now.

There is nothing I dread more these days than having to bend over to pick something up off of the floor. For the life of me, I just cannot remember pregnancy ever being as difficult or uncomfortable the first two times around as it is now.

When you live in a house with two little litterers, it is just appalling the amount of shite that accumulates on the floors. Coloring pages, hair bands, markers/crayons/pencils, random socks and other articles of clothing, cloth diapers, uneaten food items and enormous crumbs, baby dolls, books, blankets, pillows, and used tissues—these are just a smattering of items I’m observing from my spot at the table now. It’s as if these little people live to scatter every last one of their belongings about the house in an effort to undo me. Blow my nose? Check. Put tissue in the trash? Why? It looks so nice here next to the couch and the dog puzzle piece, don’t you think? Don’t they want their mother to be in a happy place?

And don’t even get me started on the oldest’s newest game of “treasure hunt,” in which she collects as fast as she can, random trinkets and toys and loads them into all the drawers in her dresser and shelves in her nightstand, so that when I go to put away laundry, or retrieve some item I need, I’m bombarded by an abundance of play kitchen food items, wooden building blocks, random stuffed animals and board books. Treasure, my ass. More like, going into the effing garbage and never coming back out again.

It used to be I could whip around the place and tidy up in no time. Granted, the litter was still annoying, but I was able to keep up and on top of the girls for the most part. But now, this garbage collector has run out of gas. I waddle about the house these days and wince every time I see the collective debris. It’s become so challenging to bend over, I just don’t do it. Instead, I try to enlist the girls’ help from time to time to do a big group clean-up. I can often set a timer and make a game of this. The oldest one has been really into beating the clock lately for any number of chores. However, just today she told me that she no longer likes the clean-up game. Great. And, the youngest usually just tells me flat-out no, she will not be helping me to pick up anything. I guess it’s good that I am very talented when it comes to using my toes as fingers. I’m able to pick up a lot with my feet.

Still, I’ve been struggling to get along tolerating much more mess on the floor these days. Even at school I have to ask the kids to pick up pencils or scraps of paper I’ve dropped, as well as to reach inside baskets I keep on the floors. At least there students are happy to help me out and respond favorably to my requests. Just five more weeks or so of this nonsense. I’m trying to enjoy it as it likely to be (read: better effing be!) the last time. But it’s really freaking hard.

Early morning alone time.

I woke up this morning earlier than anyone else. It was unusual that the littlest wasn’t the first to wake with her shouts of “Eat! Up! Eat, mama!” Even more unusual was the fact that she let me escape the bed without waking immediately to follow me, or even soon after.

I delighted in the promise of some early morning quiet. I started the electric kettle to make hot water for coffee, and then headed to the couch to lounge for a bit. It wasn’t long before I started thinking of all the things I needed to do. Of course, I couldn’t just sit and relax, practice being still, or even exercise. Although I’m eight weeks away from my due date, the nesting stage is in full effect. So, I grabbed the laptop and logged in to my Amazon account to do some pre-baby-arrival shopping.

After that, I hopped on to the La Leche League site to purchase the Tandem nursing book I’ve been wanting to read. How is it that Amazon and Barnes and Noble are selling this book for $40-plus, but La Leche has it for $14.95? Makes no sense to me.

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After I spent far too much money than seems appropriate before 6:30 a.m., I got up to make the coffee. We make our coffee each morning using a French press. We typically grind our beans at night since it’s such a noisy process, and somebody is almost always still sleeping in the morning when it’s time to make the coffee (Liam is much better at remembering to do this than I am).

It just so happened that both of us forgot about the beans last night, so I found myself considering some options. I could grind the beans in the kitchen and risk waking the little people. Or, I could simply wait until everyone was awake before I made a ruckus. Or, I could unplug the grinder from its spot in the kitchen, move it as far away from the bedroom as possible, plug it into the outlet behind the couch in the living room, and then proceed to grind the beans on the arm of the couch while smothering the damn thing with a pillow, hit-man style to muffle all the noise. I think it’s pretty obvious that I chose this last option. And, it worked beautifully. Well, almost

I was able to brew the coffee, pour a hot cup, carry it with me back to the couch, and almost continue enjoying my hour of solitude. I sat down, put my feet up, brought the cup to my mouth, and was then promptly startled by my littlest’s sneaking presence in the room.

“Boppy!” she’d noticed, proudly.

“Yes,” I replied. “Mama’s coffee.”

“Hot-hot,” she added, waving her hand back and forth dramatically.

“Sure is,” I chuckled. How can little people be so damn animated and energized upon waking? It just isn’t right.

And so, just like that, the peace and quiet was gone. In its place came snuggles and kisses, demands to be fed, “Eat! Eat!” and companionship. Not a bad way to begin the day.

Picking her toe jam.

Picking her toe jam. A recent fascination.

Trying on mommy's sweatshirts for fun.

Trying on mommy’s sweatshirts for fun.

Tandem Nursing: Amazing or Craziness?

Warning: This post contains words like breast, breastfeeding, boob, nipple, and nursing. If this terminology makes you uncomfortable, you probably want to stop reading now. Come back and visit again another day, when the subject matter is more to your liking. If you’re not disturbed by this topic, then by all means, read on!

The choice to breastfeed was an easy one for me. My mom breastfed all four of her children—at least for several months up to almost a year—supplementing with formula when her body and work schedule made it so she could go no more. In addition, her oldest sister, my godmother, was something like the High Chieftanness of the local La Leche League chapter in her town. She passed her wisdom onto my mom, and my mom, in turn, passed it on to me.

I nursed my firstborn until she was twenty months old and I was four-and-a-half-months pregnant with my second child. I considered trying to extend the time, but I just couldn’t imagine nursing both a toddler and an infant. This seemed overwhelming and stressful, and I wanted no part of it. More importantly, at this point in my pregnancy, the hormones associated with preparing for the new baby created heightened nipple sensitivity levels the likes of which I’d never known before. Nursing had become an extremely painful event—an extreme sport, if you will, to be avoided at all costs. There may have even been some tears involved.

So, with much sadness, I decided to stop. It was gradual, of course, cutting out a session here and there until the end. I very much remember that night, the last time, with vivid fondness and heartache. That experience in and of itself could be the topic for another post.

Nora was also sad about it all at the time. She was frustrated and disappointed too. Gratefully, this only lasted a few days for her. After that time, with a lot of support, intervention, and distraction from Liam, she seemed to forget breastfeeding was something we both once so enjoyed.

I did not get over things as quickly or as easily as she did. I remember about a week or so after I completely stopped breastfeeding, I gently squeezed my boob in the shower, curious to see if anything would happen. When a couple droplets of milk escaped, I erupted into tears. Dripping wet, in just a towel, and choking back sobs, I tried to explain to Liam how my body was still making milk for our baby, and who was I to tell it to stop?

Liam offered comfort and helped to reassure me that I had made the right choice for me, for Nora, and the new baby. And, when I thought back on how the pain had made me enjoy the act less and less with every passing day, I was able to move on, comfortable, yet still sad, with the decision I’d made.

So here I am now, breastfeeding my second child, and slightly more than seven months into pregnancy #3. (I should mention that this time around I’ve been heavily influenced and motivated by a neighborhood friend, who also happens to be our beloved babysitter—a woman who chose to continue nursing her older child through her entire second pregnancy and beyond the birth of her baby—this is known as tandem nursing).

I encountered the same pain and discomfort during the same part of this pregnancy as I did before—the third and fourth months were the absolute worst. This time, though, with a renewed, hopeful spirit, I decided to stick it out. The pain subsided beginning in month five, and since then we’ve suffered painful setbacks only every time new tooth has erupted (which unfortunately, has been fairly often). Each time I tell myself the discomfort  and pain will only last a few days and that it will all be worth it to push through. Oh, and another strategy I employ is to cut back on the number and length of nursing sessions, much to the dissatisfaction of my littlest.

Franny and I are indeed going through a rough patch now. She has a fang trying to bust through her top gum and so she considers my nipples a chew toy meant to massage her sore mouth and relieve her of her pain. What about my pain? I ask! She doesn’t get it. When she’s not gumming the hell out of my nipple, she’s going into super-suck-overdrive. Why is this? I can’t say for sure. I’ve had a much diminished milk supply since month five of this pregnancy. Is she overly thirsty? Hungry? Does that fang require something extra to make it descend? These questions I can’t answer. I just know that after a few minutes of this nonsense, I have to disengage and break the suction—switch sides. Distract. Anything to end the madness. This often results in copious amounts of crying, begging, and whining. Noyse, peez! Moy? Peez, mama! (Nurse, please! More? Please, mama!). It’s heartbreaking, really. But I must deny my child for fear that she will ruin my breasts for posterity, more than they’ve already been damaged by years of overuse and mistreatment from little nurslings (yes, this is the correct La Leche terminology for the little breast-suckers).

So, with all of the horror I’ve described, why do I persist? I love breastfeeding. For me, the joy of the experience far outweighs all of the negatives. I love that my children love and have loved it too. I see it as mutually beneficial for so many reasons. And, right now, I appreciate it so much, because it is sometimes the only thing that will stop me in my tracks, take me away from all the hustle and bustle—everything I feel like I must be doing, or else—and force me to sit on the couch, or lie down in bed, and just breathe. I can snuggle and nuzzle close to my baby, knowing I’m providing her nourishment and comfort. How can I say no to the giddiness she shows every time she or I suggest nursing and she knows she’s just moments away from one of her all-time favorite activites? I can’t. At least, not yet.

And so, I’m remaining open to tandem nursing. I’m still nine weeks away from having to make a decision, and I’d like to do some more reading about it. I recently asked a former colleague to return a breastfeeding book I loaned her last year when she had her baby. I told her I was considering nursing Frances alongside the new baby. She responded that she thought I was amazing. I countered with: amazing, or crazy? The answer to this I don’t yet know. I’ll try to keep you updated as the results come in.