Breastfeeding Tears (And my IWD Revelation)

I initially wrote this post on March 8, 2018 on International Woman’s Day. I highly suggest reading a bit of the history of this day, as chronicled from the United Nations, here. It is a day to protest, march, rally, join together, celebrate, pay tribute, remember, and look forward. On this specific date, I reflected on all of this, on the current political and social climate for women, on the future I hope to shape for my daughter, and if I am doing my part as a woman. Yet, I ended the day reflecting mostly on my breastfeeding journey. Here’s why, and where it led me.

Disclaimer: I feel like I have to apologize for my breastfeeding photo, but then I catch myself, wondering “But, why?” and deciding “Isn’t that part of the point?” Breastfeeding is natural, beautiful, and not sexual. I am woman, hear me roar!

I ended the day in tears, bittersweet tears about where I’ve come in my breastfeeding journey with my sweet twins. All because I tandem fed them to sleep for the first time in weeks.

Tandem feeding had been our saving grace since day 1, and then one day, it just stopped working for us. The babies, then nearing 1, became too squirmy. One would bop the other on the head, pissing the other twin off, or stick a finger in the other’s mouth, messing up a good latch, and with so many teeth (8 and 6 at the time), a bad latch would end with Momma crying out in serious pain! We would end our tandem breastfeeding sessions, all 3 of us, stressed and no nearer sleep.

But that night, as I nursed little guy, I couldn’t handle little lady’s crying for momma. She and her Daddy usually enjoy some special time cuddling, playing, and giggling while I put little man to sleep (sometimes they switch turns), but not that night. The cries were piercing, even from the opposite end of the house.

Clearly, nothing Daddy could do would placate her, unless he suddenly became capable of breastfeeding (and that’d be beyond weird).  I felt horrible for both of them, so I marched across the house with baby boy on one breast and asked my husband to give her to me, while I carefully climbed into our bed. She immediately threw her arms out at me and looked at me with huge, pitiful tears.

He asked how I was going to do this, and I said, “I just am.” I must have had the look of a super hero with eyes focused on some far off danger, but chin up and hands on hip, determined and confident.

Then, my one year old twins nursed liked sweet little newborns, baby boy in a cradle hold and baby girl in a football hold. Baby boy kept his hands off his sister’s head, nobody squirmed, and they both drifted off into sweet milk-drunk sleep after 10 minutes or so. I lay there for a while, pinned down by 35+ pounds of deadweight, enjoying the sweet sounds and feel of their sleepy breathing against me.

They used to hold hands while feeding together, and I would just melt.

When I finally got the nerve to move them, I unlatched baby girl and rolled her to one side, patting her back as she started to stir. When all was clear, I rolled baby boy to the other side. I nudged some pillows over to keep him from rolling off the bed, just in case. Then I scooped up my little princess and tiptoed quickly but quietly across the house to their room, giving her a dozen kisses, and fighting back tears as I lay her in her crib. Then I headed back, scooped up my heavier little bundle of joy, and repeated the kisses, tears, etc.

Sidebar: I always feel like a ninja putting them to sleep. Actually, you know that scene from the movie Entrapment starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones, where the very bootilicous Zeta Jones maneuvers through some laser beams protecting something worth robbing from someplace? Seriously, nobody remembers the details, we just remember how she looked, and how she moved with such care and hotness through those beams as to not set off the alarm protecting that thing she wanted to steal.

Anyway, aside from the hotness, that’s how I feel every night when I put our twins to sleep. I tiptoe and move with such care and agility, exerting all my super powers to overcome the evil that exists when you combine an old house, wooden floors, creaky door frames, a pair of light sleepers, and Murphy’s Law.

Well, back to the point. We had a successful bedtime tandem feeding session tonight, and it took me back to Day 1. That is, Day 1 of Izzie and Ro, and our breastfeeding journey, because the very first time these babies latched in the hospital, I was able to tandem feed them successfully. It was beautiful and empowering, and a total surprise.

Breastfeeding is beautiful.

The bond, the intimacy, the trust, the nourishment, the fact a mother is able to provide everything a child needs in a way that is both simple and complicated.

To say I’ve enjoyed every minute of breastfeeding would be a lie. There is pain, discomfort, inconvenience, a lot of work, and self doubt, SO much self doubt. But all of that is worth it, and I will not end our breastfeeding journey until I am confident it is the right time for all of us.

I’ve been reflecting on this a lot lately, and on my breastfeeding journey overall. I want to commit some blog time to chronicling it: the ups and downs at the different stages, what I learned from breastfeeding twins that I wish I’d known with my firstborn/singleton, and my choice to have professional photographs taken this time.

I feel so strongly about breastfeeding and yet it’s also so intimate. So, I’ve been timid and conflicted about sharing my story. But I know from my own experience, how important it is to hear other women’s stories, honest accounts with both the good and the ugly.

I hope I can help even 1 other mother feel like she is not alone and that she CAN overcome all of the challenges or stigma to breastfeed her baby (or babies) “for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby” as reaffirmed in the latest AAP Breastfeeding Guidelines.

In closing, my mom always told me that nothing worth having ever came easy. That’s true of breastfeeding and because it was International Woman’s Day, I couldn’t help thinking about all the other battles women and woman have had to overcome.

So, I think I’ll end with the quote I dedicated to my daughter for International Woman’s Day:

This rings so true of my breastfeeding journey with twins and might capture why, on IWD, I just had to take a special moment to appreciate myself, our journey, and my sweet babies.

And sorry, next time, I’ll find a quote by a woman, but as a girl I was a huge Winnie the Pooh fan, and now I’m a mother and able to appreciate it on an even deeper level. The twins’ room has a touch of Classic Pooh, so this is the quote.

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