Weaning the twins has caused me to reflect back on my 20-year breastfeeding career.
(Here the little angels are after drifting off during a visit to my mother's house. I was wearing a black t-shirt. I really didn't photoshop my boobs out of the photo, although that's how it appears.)
Many thoughts come to mind, some good, some not so good. Here they are, the good, the bad and the ugly...
One of the first times I breastfed in public was when I was in a restaurant with a woman old enough to be my mother and my first daughter was 2 months old. I was 19. We had just ordered our food when my baby expressed her desire to nurse, so I unfolded a large blanket I had brought along, put it over my shoulder and chest, then positioned her for feeding. My relative almost audibly gasped and said, "You're not going to feed her in here, are you?"
Even though I was only 19, I wasn't going to let this show of ignorance and intolerance affect my decision, so I simply said, "Well, I have this large blanket over me and the baby and no one can see even the front of my shirt much less anything else." What I really wanted to say was, "No, why don't I go into the bathroom and sit on the toilet to feed her. After all, everyone loves to eat dinner on the toilet, right?"
Later in the evening this woman confessed to me that when she had brought her first baby home from the hospital, her mother had already sterilized and laid out a dozen bottles on the kitchen counter and it was simply out of the question that there was any other option. She said she had not had experience with people feeding their babies in public and that it had just completely taken her by surprise. Fortunately, she got used to the idea and learned that if you are around me, you are going to be around breastfeeding.
Then there's the opposite end of the spectrum. My uncle, a family practitioner, and a man who has a heart of gold, loves to hold my babies. He lays back on the couch and knows just what position babies love and rocks, pats and talks in his Mexican accent until he lulls them to sleep. At some point during his visit, however, the baby will awaken and begin to cry. My uncle can always tell if it's an "I want to be walked around" cry, or an "I am really hungry now" cry. If it's an "I am really hungry" cry he will shout from the living room into the kitchen where I usually am, "Jenny! He wants the boop!" Yes, he says "boop" in the accent of his parents, and it is the most endearing thing in the world.
Of course there's my mother, who set the ultimate example for breastfeeding, choosing to nurse her children in a time when formula use was at its height. She was even called "cave woman" by close relatives who couldn't comprehend why she would do such a barbaric thing. She never let that stop her, though, and breastfed all five of her children, the youngest until she was 2 1/2 years old. She has always been a huge supporter of my decision to breastfeed, as you can see from THIS post.
Then we have my father...
...who attended every La Leche League meeting with my mother and who, after I had delivered the twins and was tandem nursing them, looked pensively at me and said, "Jennifer, do you think you could nurse them like that lying down?" For some reason, he felt it was very important that I learn to nurse them lying down. I guess he didn't want me to get tired. I said, "No, Dad, I can't imagine how I could do that."
After looking up at the ceiling pensively and scratching his beard, he looked back at me and suggested, "Well, maybe you could lie on your back and kind of prop them up on top of you!"
"I'm fine, Dad," I said, "And I don't think you need to worry so much about this."
He gave up suggesting ways after a while, but continued to tell me what a wonderful mother I was and that I was much more patient than he and my mother had ever been. I didn't ever agree with that statement, but it always made me feel so good when he said it. I miss him. :(
My kids have always been an awesome support as well. Tandem nursing twins with a teenage boy around, a teenage boy who brings other teenage boys over, was something I thought was going to be a challenge, but he never acted the least bit uncomfortable when coming up to my nursing chair to tell me about his day or ask if he could go out. I did have a blanket which I laid over the back of my chair in case his friends did come over and would quickly cover up before they came into the room. Even so, it was a little embarrassing holding a blanket over my chest, completely covering each baby's head, but leaving uncovered two little sets of feet sticking out in either direction from under the blanket.
Through these experiences, both good and bad, I have grown to love being able to nurse my babies and feel so fortunate that I have never had any major problems. I feel so blessed to have a network of support in my family and friends and I would like to publicly thank everyone who has EVER supported me or any other nursing mother, but most especially my husband, who, even though I had medical issues with the twins on and off during their entire nursing career, he was always there to do what it took to help me through it and ensure I could keep nursing. I wrote about one such experience HERE. Thank you, everyone and here's to nursing more babies in my future! (four months to be exact) Thanks for listening.
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