Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Looking Back on Breastfeeding

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.

I am pleased to list this post at JuiceBoxJungle's Facebook page! Take a look at all the other breast- and bottle-feeding posts there!


Yaya' s Home said...

I just found your blog and I love it. I do have one question, though. Did I understand you correctly? You have twin little ones, one who is still gestating, seven older children and you will be having another little one in four months?!? I just have one reply to that... I am SO IMPRESSED!!! Oh, wait. I'd like to say one more thing. BIG CONGRATULATIONS on all of it. Great job!

I'm sure I'll be back to read more. Would love the chance to get to know you. ~ Yaya

Yaya's Home

Mom2my10 @ 11th Heaven said...

Yaya, yes you got that right, except that the one gestating and the one who will be arriving in four months are one in the same! So, 9 children, 8 of whom live at home and one on the way. Soon I will have to change my screen name to Mom2my10!

Big Bee said...

Wow! My twins (now 9) were micro-preemies so by the time they were big enough and strong enough to breastfeed, I had the pumping thing down to a science. Because they were so tiny I absolutely HAD to know how much food they were getting and chart it.

10 kids is seriously impressive! We'd have loved to have had more than 3 but at $2,000- $8,000 per attempt to get pregnant, we're lucky to have 3.

Oh- and I popped over from the MMB in case you were wondering.

Big Bee said...

Oh crap! This is NOT Big Bee (That's my Hubs) Apparently he's still logged in and I thought I was. Don't be creeped out! Yikes! I'll post

Emily said...

You did so well to feed the twins for 20 months! I fed my girls until they were 12 months and take my hat off to you for going as long as you did!! All the support you had is amazing.

I bet you will find nursing one baby a cinch when your littlest arrives after twin/tandem feeding for so long.

Cynthia said...

Okay- logged in as ME now. DOH! Don't tell my Hubs that he just commented on a breastfeeding post or he will positively DIE of embarrassment! He just opened a google account today so I'm not used to having to check and see which of us is signed in at any one time. Tee Hee! What an embarrassing way to introduce myself. I'm such a dork!

Mom2my10 @ 11th Heaven said...

That's okay, Cynthia, I did the very thing yesterday, but I answered a question about Mormonism under my daughter' screen name! I promise I won't tell your husband he commented on a breastfeeding post! :)

Oh, and you know what? I initially read your comment in my email, so I didn't see your husband's photo, otherwise, yeah, I think I would have been creeped out or thought, okay, this man is really comfortable with his femininity! LOL~


Okay, I just reread your post looking at your husband's photo and I am totally laughing! It sounds like he was the one pumping your breasts! HAHA!

Anonymous said...

I luv your dad! Everyone needs a breastfeeding super fan. Breastfeeding is not easy for most of us. I applaud all the mommas out there doing their best! Thanks for your sweet memories. Our lil' explorer is 17 months now and usually I'm prego by now, about to deliver, and the baby weans his or herself. But the explorer has hung on and I am glad. I cherish the sweet moments we share amidst our busy life with his siblings. I know it won't last forever and one day I'll be looking back at a breastfeeding carrier (my 4 1/2 years looks like a drop in comparison) as you are and be so grateful for the opportunity. luvs to you, trina

Unknown said...

I too loved nursing my children. I happened to live in a community where nursing was the norm and everyone did it everywhere (Berkeley, CA). I nursed my youngest for 4 1/2 years as he wouldn't stop until he was ready to.

My mom nursed the two oldest and then formula came into vogue, and it was considered a sign of wealth to afford formula. The last four of us had the formula although she did home birth us all.

I always enjoy your blog so much. You are very honest and open, and I like that.

Mom2my10 @ 11th Heaven said...

Thorney, yes, Berkley sounds like a great place for nursing moms! It's awesome that you nursed for that long. I'll bet people made comments, but they probably didn't realize that the world breastfeeding average is 4.2 years! It's the U.S. culture who has decided that we need to stop nursing at 12 months. Good for you for going so long!

And thank you for your sweet compliment on my blog. I do try to be honest, but sometimes I think that maybe I'm too honest! :)

Cheryl Martinson said...

I am trying so hard to get my son to quit breastfeeding. He is 18 months old and I have had mastitis 4 times with him, twice where my body quit fighting the infection and I turned toxic (the sickest I have ever been in my life) and I'm still breastfeeding. I think he's addicted. LOL. I can't imagine breastfeeding multiples. Kudos to you.

alessandra said...

Oh, I love those cheeks, and love breastfeeding too.
So sweet moments.

Redilocks said...

Great story! Thanks for sharing. 20 years of breastfeeding is so amazing.

Mom2my10 @ 11th Heaven said...

BuddyNPumpkin, honestly, it wasn't 20 years of breastfeeding non-stop! There were breaks, but I started 20 years ago with my first baby, and now will pick it up again in four months with my tenth baby!

Cheryl B. said...

With son number one I started off breastfeeding. But then he started loosing weight, and the Dr. we had for him at the time wasn't going to let us take him home from our appointment - he was calling in the authorities! HORRORS!!!

We finally convinced him that I would go cold turkey and put the baby on formula, as well as keeping a chart of how much he ate and when and how much he wet or pooped and when. We had less than a week to get things turned around.

During that first weekend, I became "Dolly Parton". Yowzah!

Thankfully the baby did gain wieght, but the Dr. said I couldn't breastfeed and suppliment with formula. I was so-o grieved. While I had no support for breastfeeding, it was none-the-less the desire of my heart. Brian was all for it too, but we were so scared they would take the baby from us, that we gave in.

By the time son #2 came, we had decided that we could easily switch baby doctors. We had wanted to after that scary visit, but were afraid that would send up flags and they'd come looking for us ...

When the second Dr. heard our tale, he was inflamed!!! Via him I learned that due to how anemic I had been, there is no way my milk supply would have some in of it's own accord with out 'help'. "Did they have you do this?" No. "Did they have you suppliment with water?" "No, in-fact I had been told not to give him bottles of water" and on it went. According to this Dr., all baby Dr's have full access to the mothers medical files as well as the babys at the time of a birth, and they are SUPPOSE to go over the mother's files as well. He said that the extra low level of iron in my blood at the time would have been flagged all over my chart and that there are tricks I should have been instructed to do to aid my milk coming in. And I definelty should have been allowed to return to nursing once I became fully enlarged.

He then told what all the tricks were so that I would be able to nurse son #2. What a relief to my heart, as well as our wallet!!

But then while nursing son #2, I got a cracked nipple. Oh my goodness!!(OUCH!) I ened up having to lay under a heat lamp directed directly there, with a certain lotion stuff spread on it .... Talk about awkward! But it worked. The thing is that to this day, like when I get really cold, I 'pop' right out there, and they make themselves known even when I am wearing a turtle neck AND a sweater :-/.

continued ...

Cheryl B. said...

page two -

I mentioned having no support. To the point that at family get togethers (Which were monthly on my side of the family) I was forced to go into a different room to nurse. As you can well imagine, I ended up spending so much time sitting in a different room, just hearing conversations through a wall and getting frustrated to the hilt. No, covering up was not good enough - "It's still obvious what your doing, and sometimes we can hear the baby making sounds ..." And it 'distressed' my brother-in-law 8-/ Finally I started sending Brian and son #one and staying home with son #2. Man was I in trouble for that!

My husbands side of the family always sent me from the room as well.

Here I was, trying to do what was best for our babies, as well as save the wallet any way I could, but you would have thought I was bearing some contagious disease.

And no, I didn't give up - I also nursed the next two sons!

While I am saddened that our daughter-in-love has chosen not to nurse, I do so enjoy being able to hold our grandchild close and feed her her bottles while rocking her to sleep :-D!!! Even the times I have taken over the middle of the night feedings.

On re-reading this, it hit me how much I vented. Thanks for letting me Jen. If you choose to delete this comment I wouldn't blame you ;-p

Also, I had noticed that you mention your mom often, but not your dad, and yet it never totally connected that he had died. Yeah, I wonder about myself. Any-ways, here's a hug about that. I know from things you had said about him that he was a very loving, supportive aspect of your life.

One of these days I hope to be able to just sit here and read your blog from it's very first posting till the then present! (can you/could you handle that much commenting? o:-p)

Mom2my10 @ 11th Heaven said...

Cheryl, I can't believe you had to go into another room to nurse with family! How depressing that must have been! Of course there would be no reason for me to delete your comment! Heaven knows I've vented plenty on my blog, so you can, too!

Also, I would love reading every comment you could make on every post I've ever written! That would be fun!

Momza said...

I've nursed all 7 of my children...I love how perfect my world feels when I am up with a sweet child in the middle of the night, while the rest of the world sleeps.
Those 2am feedings were my favorite.

Cascia Talbert said...

That is an amazing story! You are a strong woman to breast feed for that long and breastfeed twins! Thank you for sharing your story. I nursed my boys, tried to nurse one of my daughter's and failed and bottle fed the other one. I posted my complete story on my blog as well, and it is also listed on the Juice Box Jungle Facebook page.

Rhonda said...

Yay for nursing! I was very blessed to nurse all 6 of my children and the bonding & closeness are priceless! I know you can bond with a bottle fed baby, not saying anything different...but it made my heart happy to breastfeed my fat babies.

The biggest challenge was nursing a severely premature infant. It involved lots of pumping, adding a supplement to the expressed milk and bottle feeding every other feed. I hated that part but the effort was worth it once we could switch to complete breastfeeding from the breast. It's the one thing I could actually *DO* to improve his fragile health.

I also nursed while pregnant. That was exhausting but cool too. I'm glad you'll get a small break before baby comes! Hope you're feeling great!

Keeslermom said...

I just had to share my nursing funny!

When my oldest was 10 days old, we went out for the first time. We were at a restaurant with my parents, and my brother and his wife were meeting us there, and seeing the baby for the first time. When baby cried, I threw a big blanket over my shoulder, but being a newbie, I needed both hands to get everything arranged. My hubby held up one corner, and my dad the other while I peaked in through the top. Just as I got the baby latched on and settled so they could let go, my brother walked in. His wife walked up to me, said "I want to see the baby!" and jerked the blanket right off. Then she SCREAMED, threw the blanket to the floor and ran away! Every eye in the place turned to see what the fuss was about, and there I was in all my half dressed glory! My dad turned purple, my husband scrambled to grab the blanket and cover me, and baby just kept eating.
When my now former sis-in-law returned, she told me nursing was gross!

Mom2my10 @ 11th Heaven said...

Keeslermom, that is horrible! I don't think I've ever had an experience quite like that! Hopefully you had many other good experiences that made up for it!

Amanda B. said...

I have also been fortunate to breastfeed all 4 of my children (including twins :)) and it has been such a blessing in many ways. I am glad you stood your ground in that restaurant. I don't know why people get so hyper about women breastfeeding in public. Babies need to eat too and is that not what our bodies were made to do??

Cassie said...

I loved breastfeeding both of my children and it is one of the things I am most looking forward to with the new baby. My husband gets a little jealous though, not being able to feed the baby himself so I usually have to pump a little so he can participate.

Erin said...

I wish I could have nursed my babies but we couldn't get any of them to latch on. Tried the whole tube with a syringe and had three people helping me. It was crazy. It makes me smile though to see or hear about other people having such awesome success. I think your amazing!

Dusty (To the Moon and Back) said...

Its been so long since I've been able to stop by your blog and I'm SO glad that I was able to read this post! I love seeing/hearing about other mother's positive experiences with breastfeeding! I'm the only one in my family or my hubby's that nurses and I get flack for still nursing my almost 2 year old all the time! How wonderful that your family was so supportive, especially your dad! Congratulations on the new baby coming! I had missed that info! I just found out I'm expecting as well, so I'm weaning my son as well. It's bittersweet, isn't it?

Lydia said...

I have loved my time breastfeeding my kids and love that there are others who are not afraid to nurse in public and not in a bathroom or some room hidden. thanks for the inspiration

Kayla said...

I'm so glad I read this. I 100% want to breastfeed my twins but feel so shy about it. Since these are our first I don't have the "i have done it before" and I really don't think hubby has seen a breastfeeding woman. I am a very shy person and just can't shake the realization of how awkward i will feel. On top of that I have to try my first time with juggling two babies when I have never tried one. My dad and brothers and FIL knowing about my boobs feels weird lol But I find some strength in this post. Thank you!