nursing: more than food

It’s 2:00 p.m. on the dot, and right as Olivia was dozing off in her swing, I took her out and put her in her crib. Violet went to sleep about an hour ago, but she completely skipped out on her morning nap. I have been writing posts as I experience things and think, “this would make a good post,” and today is one of those days.

I always thought ‘nursing strikes’ were a bunch of bologna, but I really think that Violet has been having one for the last few months. What was she protesting? Her disdain for me following shitty advice on my local La Leche League Facebook page and ultimately altering [lowering] my supply? The fact that mother nature visited me for the first time in her life and my milk levels were even more out of whack? I’ll never know, and she won’t remember by the time she’s talking to me, so I just have to adapt to her needs as well as I can. It’s partially empowering because I feel like super woman when she latches on and calms at the breast after refusing to nurse for almost three months, but it’s also mentally draining trying to get back in the groove of nursing both her and Olivia constantly during the day, especially now that they become distracted with one another if I tandem nurse. Olivia gauges Violet’s eyes and Violet pulls her hair. At eight months, it’s a real shit show.

Yesterday, Erik got up with the girls so I could sleep a little longer, but they were really whiny so I got up anyway. In my eight months of being a mom, yesterday was the first time I negatively thought, “damn, I’m a mom.” Out of nowhere it hit me: there is no escaping their cries. As soon as they wake up my day starts, and there is no packing up my stuff at the end of the day and going home. I am here with them for the majority of my time, minus the two five hour shifts I work a week. Within five minutes, they were teetering on that nerve that can’t snap because once it does, I become an emotional wreck. Violet’s whines turned into hysterical cries. That nerve snapped. My eyes big, I picked her up and tried to burp her because her stomach felt hard, but she kept throwing herself backward so I just put her in her crib because I didn’t want to accidentally drop her.

Watching her lie there while arching her back and crying, tears started flowing out of my own eyes. “Why am I upset with you?” I thought as I picked her back up to try again. She didn’t do anything wrong. Erik met me at her doorway and took her from me to burp her. He is much better at getting her gas out than I am. I sat in the chair in the living room crying, mad at myself for getting upset with Violet. The more I thought about my emotions, the more I realized that I wasn’t even upset with her. I was letting a rough morning determine my attitude for the rest of the day, and I was taking my frustration and blaming it on Violet.

This morning and afternoon were fairly similar. Olivia went down for her morning nap easily, but Violet cried when I put her down. I let her cry for a couple of minutes but when it didn’t subside, instead of getting mad, I took our shirts off and did skin to skin. She alternated between resting her head on my chest and nursing, but eventually calmed down and closed her eyes. “She is obviously going through something and needs me.” I thought, and that’s what I meant in the beginning of this post by adapting to her needs: breastfeeding is so much more than feeding. It is their comfort and solitude, and they are in this relationship because I wanted them to be. They were in the NICU for 17 days with bottles and pacifiers. I could have easily avoided nursing them altogether and continued exclusively pumping and bottle feeding them, but I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to breastfeed and asked their nurses and doctors every day when I would be able to try to. Now, out of nowhere, Violet is nursing more than ever after me making peace with the fact that she might have to be strictly bottle fed. At almost nine months, neither one of them are showing signs of wanting to wean any time soon.

I will be the first to admit that yes, it is draining, and yes, sometimes I do get annoyed with the constant clinging to me and the fact that I have two babies depending on me. Once they latch on though, the tension in their hands release, their breathing slows and turns into content cooing, oxytocin surges through my body and I am calm, too.

*disclaimer: I didn’t finish this post until 5:42 p.m. THAT is what having twins is like. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when I get back into school.










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