Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Tandem Tale Part II: Eleanor

I believe I left off on the birth of Eleanor. Seven months later, I will do my best to recount the details! Eleanor was a sleepy baby. I chalk this up to her being two and a half weeks early. Maddie was the opposite of a sleepy baby, and I chalk that up to her being 9 days late...she was ready to meet the world! When Ella came, I was ready to latch her on just like I had latched Maddie on a million times. I had done this before, right? I was a pro now! Wrong. Ella slept a lot in the first few days, and it was hard to get her to latch. I was afraid she was sleeping too much, and she had gone almost a six hour stint right after she was born! When she did eat, it was awkward and uncomfortable, and almost immediately my right side was raw and cracked. Maddie really wanted to nurse the day after El was born, and El was on my left (good) side. I decided to let Maddie nurse on the right side so she didn't feel left out. Big mistake! I yelped in pain, and poor Maddie was deprived of the milk she wanted. I remember the first time Maddie got a letdown after my milk came in...the look on her face was sheer joy! When she was done, she came off and proudly announced, "there was milk, Mama!" That made every painful nursing session during pregnancy worth it. Plus, there was no real engorgement because I had a pro-nurser who could get the milk out during Ella's sleepy times!
Day two of Little El's life: enter Lori. Lori is the best IBCLC I could have ever hoped for. By this time I knew we once again had serious latch issues. Unfortunately, she couldn't come until the next day (day 3, Sunday). In the meantime, I pumped to remove the milk and fed Ella on my left side. Luckily, the left side is a milk machine! When Lori came on Sunday, she weighed her and had her nurse to see how much milk she was getting. Ella was getting quite a bit on the left side at just over 48 hours old! Another good thing about tandem nursing, the new baby gets lots of milk even faster! We also worked, and worked, and worked, and worked on her latch on that right side. It turns out she wasn't very good on the left side either, but I didn't notice because that side was more "seasoned". She was a mess. Every time Lori got her on there deep, she would immediately pull back and return to her beloved shallow latch. We decided I would just continue to work with her on the left side, and because the right side was a bloody mess, I would continue to pump on that side until it healed. I also got some APNO, which helped my right side heal SO much faster. I am not sure it would have healed at all without the APNO. Maddie loved the pumped milk. She would kiss the pump while I was pumping, and when I was done she insisted it be poured into a cup for her. During this time, she didn't nurse very often. I wondered if she would wean since she was getting her milk from a cup.
My right side was extremely slow to heal. I ended up renting a pump from Lori, trying a nipple shield (which I quickly threw away, all the memories from Maddie came rushing back, and I just couldn't do it), using the APNO, and curling my toes. Ultimately, I became tired of pumping. I wanted to be a "real" nursing mommy and just bring the baby to both breasts. Before the right side was completely healed, I ditched the pump and nursed through the pain. On the plus side, I did get quite a nice stash of milk in my freezer. Unfortunately, I am still nursing through the pain. Seven months later. Oddly enough, seven months later, Eleanor is now rejecting the right side. She arches and fusses and pulls off even as the milk is flowing out. It's like I'm poisoning her or something. Alas, all I wanted was to be equal...looks like I may be lopsided after all.
Through all of this, Maddie continues to nurse. Sometimes ones a day, sometimes once every three days, and sometimes a couple times a day. I try to distract her, which sometimes works, and sometimes she "needs milk, Mommy". When she is not feeling well, she asks to nurse more, which tips me off to an impending fever or other illness. Her third birthday is right around the corner, and never in my life did I think I would be nursing a three-year-old. It just happened that way. She still needs to nurse, and I am not going to cut a need short. One day she will be done, and this chapter in our life will come to a close. A peaceful close, a gentle close, and together, in a trusting relationship, we will move on to the next chapter of her little life.