I had breast cancer many years before having a kid (diagnosed at age 26), so one of my breasts had several surgeries. I chose not to have radiation. Fast forward -- I got pregnant at 34 after bring in remission for the entire intervening time, had a healthy pregnancy and a great homebirth. DD (now 3 years old) has always nursed successfully from both breasts. Back when I used to pump, the breast that had had surgery produced about half as much milk as the other one. Now that DD is old enough, she has a very strong preference for the breast that never had surgery, and spends about 80% of her nursing time there.
She also switches back and forth between my breasts very frequently, I suspect as a way to get more milk out of them -- maybe she gets the most milk in the first few "sucks" on each side?
She is still very passionate about nursing. I would be very surprised if she weaned on her own anytime soon. She nurses about 3-4x/day on average (occasionally 2x, sometimes 7-8x).
I'm very newly pregnant again, and hoping this little one will stick!
I like the idea of tandem nursing, but when I think about the reality of it, I don't think it's an option for me. DD would not accept being told she has to nurse on the "bad" breast so the new baby could have the "good" breast -- talk about setting up serious sibling rivalry! And I wouldn't feel safe/comfortable feeding a baby exclusively from a breast that is, quite simply, broken -- it has permanent damage from surgery 11 years ago that probably saved my life. I assume women who only have one breast (for whatever reason) can't tandem nurse, and I don't think I can do it with 1 1/2 breasts, either. (Ironically, the breast that had the surgery LOOKS great -- if you saw me topless you probably wouldn't be able to tell which breast had surgery, and the scar is hidden by sheer luck of where my cancer was. But it's what's inside that counts, in this case...)
Beyond that, I think DD's constant need/desire to switch sides would also mean she'd always be mad at the baby for having whatever side she wanted. It just seems like I'd be setting them up for a bad dynamic.
So I think I will have to wean DD before the babe arrives, even though I'd rather not, and I KNOW she'd rather not.
The sad thing is that:
1) I've had several miscarriages in the 4-10 week range before, so I'm not going to even begin to wean DD until 12 weeks. If I were to lose this one, then there's no reason for DD to wean.
2) DD's memory is so good and long at this age that even if she's weaned when the baby arrives, she will clearly remember nursing -- especially if we have a somewhat gradual weaning process that lasts a few months. Then I fear she'll be terribly jealous when she sees the baby getting something she remembers loving and may still want.
Ack, this is hard!!! I'm feeling pretty afraid about it.
I welcome ideas/thoughts/experiences/confirmation/sympathy.