two on me

The last six weeks have flown and crawled by at the same time. It feels like I gave birth to L a million years ago, but I can not believe he is already six weeks old. He is a sweet baby, but I have a lot more trouble reading him than I did with E. Six weeks in with E, he and I were in a total love fest- even though he never slept and over-ate. L sleeps! and he takes himself off the boob when he is full! He is also connecting much better with Marc right now- and that is fine.

I am curious about what is going to be the same and what is going to be different between L and E. I do compare my experiences; asking myself if whats happening today is totally brand new or not. Having kids is an experiment and I find it fun to approach scientifically. I also regularly find L giving me flashbacks to the time when E was a newborn. But, I don't try to compare the two boys to each other because they are each individuals and I always want to see them that way. My goal is now and always will be to just enjoy each of them separately even when they are together.

Mainly focusing on enjoying them separately- at least right now. It is hard to enjoy them when they are both crying together. It is also hard to enjoy them when they are both nursing together. And that sums up about 90% of the regularly joined activities for my young boys and me. Tandem nursing is the new biggest challenge of my life. Maybe it is a surprise to some but, I actually don't enjoy nursing very much. Most of the time I feel pretty indifferent to the activity, other times it just totally overstimulates me and makes me very physically uncomfortable. For the last year and a bit, I have been able to take a break when nursing is too overwhelming. E was always able to find something else to do or try to fall asleep on his own. If he wanted more, he would come back a bit later and we could try again. I can't really ask the new baby to wait when it wants its "LAH" (this is what the baby cry for nursing always sounds like to me). And even if I do want to wait, listening to that cry for more than 30 seconds is by far more overwhelming than any solo nursing session has ever been.

Nursing two kids at the same time, however, is making me redefine my definition of overwhelming. Tandem nursing presents itself in two ways. The most obvious is having a boob in each child's mouth at the same time. There is also nursing each child on their own too, one after the other, possibly giving each child more than one turn, maybe eventually turning it into a two at a time session. The only guaranteed time that I only have to nurse once child is when I am only with one of them.

I didn't think it would be like this. E has only been asking to nurse once a day, maybe twice for months. He never asked if we weren't in bed or on our way. This was a rule we established before he turned two years old, and E never bucked against it. In the very rare occasions that E would ask to nurse during the day, he would agree, or even initiate, that we needed to go to the bed first. I thought it was under control, I thought he understood how nursing worked for us. I planned to use Marc and toys and food to distract E when he wanted to nurse at the same time as the new baby. I talked to E about all of it before L was born. But none of the preparation really mattered.

I always knew E would be jealous of the attention I would have to give to L. I don't want to make that jealousy worse than it needs to be. The fact is that E is angry he has to share now. He understands the situation and he shows a lot of love to his brother. But, sometimes he gets mad about the new circumstances. He expresses his anger purely and does not focus it on any one thing. If I make a choice that reminds him how angry he is, then he will focus on me a little bit. Ultimately, his anger turns into a raging fit that has no focus and no real conclusion because the only solution is submission to a new life of being a sibling. Having a little brother is the most significant thing to ever happen to him in his short life so far. He needs time to adjust and reassurance. His reassurance comes through nursing. So E is nursing as much as L right now- maybe even more.

Two babes for my boobs to feed (and comfort) is hard. I feel like I am starving constantly. I have entire days or nights without having any of my own space. If I am nursing one and the other sees, they want it too and start to almost panic about it. Both boys act like if they don't nurse immediately they will never have another chance. I have spent years finding my way to being a relaxed person because I am a better human when I am chilled out. Having drama and stress around me makes me lose that chilled out feeling. I never feel like I can relax because my children don't relax until after their needs have been met. But with two, I am constantly meeting needs and only occasionally enjoying the peace it brings.

So maintaining as much peace as possible is the main reason why I can't wean E. We want weaning to be E's choice (which is why we even have a 3 year old nurser). But if nursing two children had me changing my mind about child-led weaning, weaning E at this point would be even worse than letting him nurse. It would be worse for my quality of life in the short term. But, even more damaging is that it would teach E on a root level that when things get tough for me, he can't trust me to not cause him suffering. It could give him a reason to focus his anger. Maybe he wouldn't feel safe focusing the anger on me, and L would end up on the receiving end. If I weaned E it would be for selfish reasons only; it would be for my benefit over his. We have to make enough decisions for E that compromise his benefit in some way. Making a choice that only benefits him and our bond with him is a positive that outshines all the negatives on tandem nursing for me.
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