Saturday, 18 February 2012

My week of Tandem Feeding

I gave Tandem Feeding capitals above as it feels like I've done nothing else all week. I swear, when I go to put on my jeans tomorrow I'd better have lost an inch off my hips with all the calorie-burning nursing that's gone on.
Last weekend Noah seemed to have a growth spurt. I say seemed, as they usually only last 24 hours or so, and he's still sucking on me a week later like milk is going out of fashion. He's seven months old now, no, seven and a half, and he's at the separation anxiety stage where he wants mama and mama only. We visited family on Wednesday; any time he was in anyone's arms for more than 30 seconds he started twisting to me and wailing. Of course I'm only too happy to take him back, but they were a little mystified I think.

Wednesday morning I was trying to get dressed. I put Noah sitting on the floor at my feet in front of the wardrobe, and as soon as I stood up straight he was crying to be back in my arms. I quickly grabbed my clothes and sat down, him half on my lap as I pulled my trousers on, holding him on one arm.
He comes to pee with me, and it's his fault I go around with my fly open, and that I stood in front of my friend and finished pulling up my leggings and skirt in her kitchen (they were only a couple of inches too low on my hips, but I hadn't had a chance to fix them in the loo). She is the epitome of ladylike grace and never batted an eyelid, I didn't even apologise to her, that's what friends are for!

Charlie came down with a cold on about Monday, meaning he was off his food, only grazing on the odd piece of fruit or toast all week, so it was mommy's milk for him night and day. This was never an issue when he was an only child, but now he's 3.5 yrs and has a sucky brother too I was getting a bit frustrated. I know better than to refuse him milk though, it's so much more than just food to him, and when he's sick he needs to snuggle and feel like a baby again. He also gets a chesty cough with each cold, and vomits at night if there's too much mucus and solids in his tummy. This week has been the first in his life that he hasn't vomited at night with the coughing (touch wood, I've probably put the mockers on us now!), which is such a relief, as he'd cough, vomit, cry, feed, sleep and repeat until morning. We have a special white plastic bowl we use for his vomit, it's always at the side of the bed, and this week it's remained there! Yay for the little triumphs!

We did a lot of running around, a few play cafe visits, a few playdates, and visiting relatives, sometimes two in a day. Waaay too much activity, but Barry was working daytime all week and I couldn't stand the thought of filling the 8 hours in the house on my own with the two suckers. So each morning I packed up snuffling sneezers and we went and spread our germs around south County Dublin (or SoCoDu if you're an arse).
Valentine's Day passed us by, for the first year we didn't get to really celebrate it, sick babies and all. I had to stay in bed with Noah, he ran a temperature and wailed, fed and slept all day. He's still coughing and sneezing, and on Thursday I came down with it too. Fever, chills, icy feet, aching joints, even aching teeth, sneezing, hot wheezy chest and my nose running like a hot tap. I spent yesterday in bed, keeping a proprietorial eye on Facebook. I should really be on Zukerman's payroll at this stage.

So I've been feeding both babies way more than usual; if feeding a 3 year old and a 7.5 month old their complete nutritional needs seems like a lot, which it does. I was about to guess how many times Charlie feeds in a day normally, but that's just silly. Some feeds are for 10 mins, where he empties both boobs fully, some are for a 5 second snack. I've never counted and never want to. Who needs to know / who cares? There's no grading system, giving out bronze "mom of the year" awards for feeding a child 6 times a day, and gold awards for feeding them 12 times a day. I just get on with it.
I read something on Facebook where a woman said one of the most annoying things about feeding an older child is that everytime you sit down they want to nurse. I get that. Also, breastfeeding is not a joyous exercise all the time. It's a pain in the ass when you've spent 45 mins feeding the baby to sleep only to have the older one rouse and need feeding too. I do it because I can, because I've no reason to stop, but mostly because it's best for my children's health. I do enjoy it too mostly, just not this week.

Also in the daytimes, it seemed like just as Noah would let the boob go in his sleep, Charlie would come and ask for a feed. That's when he was not feeding simultaneously. I actually WOULD like an award now I realise that in my waking hours I may have only been getting maybe 5 hours a day non-sucking time this week. My boobs have swung (ha!) from feeling completely sucked dry and sore, to overflowing, my supply is so good now I could probably feed six kids. (Express! Donate! You say. I love the idea, but I couldn't at the moment, maybe when Charlie weans I might.)

Noah never seemed to "need" the boob like Charlie always did. Noah could wake from a nap and go straight to smiling and playing for up to an hour without looking for milk. Whereas Charlie would rouse, and start to cry if my nipple wasn't still in his mouth, this before he'd even opened his eyes. Well, Noah's like Charlie this week, sucking and sucking me dry, then sucking some more until I let-down a new flow of milk. Charlie's suck makes my milk "swish" out of my breast, though his mouth is closed. I can hear it coming out, the same sound as cow's milk being milked into an empty bucket. Weird, does anyone else get that?

Just thought I'd update you on our tandem-feeding journey. It's been a hard week, I'm shattered physically and mentally, and trying to make sure I eat and drink the right things to keep my energy up. One night coming home they were both asleep in the car and I diverted to the drive-thru (you all know where) for ICE-CREAM!? I HATE ice-cream normally. But I just craved it at that moment. Plus it was great to eat it with the radio on and enjoy a little peace, before I got my sleeping beauties home and had to bring them both crying for a boob into the dark empty house. That's always a barrel of laughs. I've been known to phone Barry to see when he'll be home and wait in the car with the sleeping kids instead of braving the exodus on my own.

Tonight was the most frustrating. We started "bedtime" at about 8pm, it's now 11pm and Noah is still sucking, one boob after another, as I type this one-handed. I'm parched with thirst, have run out of tissues for my nose, and am starving, haven't eaten since 5pm. I'm so frustrated with the ENDLESS sucking I've been feeding Noah through gritted teeth, trying to extract my nipple from his gums, but he rouses and looks for it again. There, he's off, I can go to the loo, Barry's downstairs making me tea and toast.

See, the heavenly choirs aren't always singing when we feed our babies, sometimes it's a hassle. Sorry not to leave on a more positive note. I remember my sainted midwife saying "When you're feeling mad/frustrated hold your baby closer" That's a good one to remember.

Pollyanna x


  1. Hang in there Mama! You are doing an amazing job and just imagine how much sicker the suckers would be if they didn't have all those fab antibodies in them. Growth spurts are exhausting!! My six month old has just passed through her latest one and it was very testing - especially now she has teeth and was chomping down from time to time experimenting with her new gnashers :(

  2. I hear you, I have a very similar age gap and I avoid sitting around at home like the plague as it generally means all-day nursing. Hope you're all feeling better soon!

  3. Just wanted to say THANK YOU for this post. That is all. I'm not tandem feeding, but I am feeding a toddler, and feeling a bit like a walking bub-bub this week. A walking bub-bub with a feverish cold :-(

  4. Have to echo Clare - THANKYOU for this post. My two suckers (ha - I'm going to struggle to shake that term now!) are sucking madly this week. Both had injections on Thursday and both are mad suckers. Cluster feeding is the wrong term for yesterday for the 3mo who stayed on my lap feeding / dozing all afternoon and then lying next to me on the bed all evening and squished right up to me all night. 3yo screams for milk in the night and is off his oats as well so wants more boob than normal during the day. Here's to tomorrow and midweek groups to go and get distracted at :)

  5. Go on Mama! I adore you and your healing und helping stories!

  6. yes to the swish your moth and stop looking at your sister/the tv/your brother/out the window/at the smallest sound, ahhhh, YOU;RE DISTRACTINGTHE BABY..... and back to business!!


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