I haven’t blogged in a long time because… I had my second baby! Things have been busy around here. Right now I’m nursing the two-month-old and typing with one hand. My three-and-a-half-year-old is asleep. I’m exhausted and should probably get to bed as soon as the baby is ‘milk drunk’ – you know, when they come off and look at you so satisfied and relaxed and then pass out immediately - but I want to share something with you about parenting my two children through nursing.
Yes, I still nurse my ‘older’ child. Just this morning I was thinking about how big he is getting, how mature. I mentioned to my partner that nursing him seems and feels a bit weird these days. His mouth is huge compared to the newborn’s and his latch has changed a lot in recent months. He, too, has noticed a difference and will often say that the tube isn’t in the right place or it’s ‘not working.’
Tube? Yes, tube. I have nursed my son for three-and-a-half years using an at-chest supplementer because I never had a full milk supply. For the last 18 months we’ve used water in the supplementer instead of milk. Jacob likes the flow of it. He loves to nurse, but not if there’s nothing coming out. It has worked for me and it has worked for him, so this is what we we’ve been doing.
This time around I have more milk, although still not as much as the baby needs. I nurse the baby first (with a different supplementer and donated human milk), and then nurse Jacob if he wants it. Initially after our baby girl was born, Jacob wanted to nurse all the time. Sometimes that was tough, and often it was sad because I had to just say no – baby needed it first, and he wasn’t used to that.
I won’t go into the gory details, but will say that tonight, after Jacob caught a horrible stomach bug that left him empty and us with a lot of laundry to do, I suddenly became ever so grateful that he still nurses. He refused to drink water out of a glass and the same went for juice, which is normally a much-anticipated treat in our home. He was scared and upset at having been so sick, over and over again. He wasn’t grown up or mature-looking at all. Sure, he is an ‘older’ nursling compared to an infant, but he is not ‘old’. He is a three-and-a-half-year-old LITTLE boy who can't yet tie a pair of laces or even manage to open our sticky front door. Why would he be too old to nurse? Through nursing this evening, he took in a good amount of water plus some much-needed antibodies from the bit of milk he got from me. I’m relieved that we don’t have to worry about dehydration at this point.
So tonight I uttered some strange, strange words as I was putting Jacob to sleep (nursing, of course!): “If you want to nurse in the night, just wake me up, ok?! Even if the baby is fast asleep!”