So we have the baby home, finally, but tandem nursing is not going well at all. I'm not a big person, and my kids - well they're big compared to me. I'm constantly scared my toddler is going to hurt my newborn, esp. as she is a bit crazy when she's nursing. Also I'm massively sick and can't get better, and I suspect this is in part due to the crazy amount of milk I'm having to produce, since toddler drinks as often as newborn, but in toddler sized portions.
The icing on the cake has been that my inlaws are in town taking toddler out to help me, which has done a number on my supply. I'm engorged half the time, then this morning toddler stays home - and newborn gets dehydrated. I did not see pee for 4 hours straight. I can't take this any more and I want to wean the toddler.
The thing is my toddler is not ready to wean at all. Her life revolves around her nursies, and her relationship with food has never been that great. So, any suggestions on how to do this? I've tried limiting, but as this morning, I often don't have the mental energy to enforce boundaries, and she is not ready at all, she has horrible screaming meltdowns and really resents the newborn for nursing. I can't blame her, it's my fault for not weaning her sooner, but don't really know what to do. Maybe cold turkey is the way to go here.
Things are hard at the moment for you - it's perfectly normal and acceptable to have all the feelings you have, resentment, guilt etc, but do try try to let that go, easier said than done - I appreciate that. I'm just wondering how old your toddler is, you mention that nursing is very important to her, so therefore I'm not sure that going cold turkey will help in this situation - it may make her even more resentful towards your newborn.
Do you nap with the baby when you can? - if the in-laws are here - is an ideal moment to build up your strength to deal with the limits that you can try to set, maybe set up some playdates with some friends so that your dd is distracted but not feeling like she is being pushed out the way, give her the role of the big sister, helping you change baby's nappy, if you need to go to the toilet ask her to look after the baby so that she has a specific role to play, helping mama is a wonderful thing for big brothers and sisters to do, but then it all depends on the age of your toddler, if you can then once a day when the baby is not nursing take that time not necessarily to nurse - but you can if you want, but just to have cuddles to reassure her that you still love her, do special little things with her, have like a special tea time with her, cut up fruits together, do tasting sessions, try things that maybe even you don't know so that it would be a special adventure together.
It's a difficult time - I know - I went through something similar with my kids, but the thing for me was finding a moment in the day that I could give only to our dd, just 5 minutes made her feel reassured that we hadn't replaced her, also letting her know that, at the moment, not liking her baby brother or sister is OK, hurting the baby isn't ok but knowing that you understand that it's difficult to share her space in the family with someone new is hard.
Hope this has helped some, and keep posting to let us know how you are getting on, seeking out a support group for breastfeeding such as LLL would be beneficial especially as many groups now have toddler meetings where this sort of thing comes up quite a bit - you may just need that support around to to help you get through this difficult moment. Good luck and take care of yourself.
My older DD is nursing again after a 5ish month break during pregnancy, and I'm feeling some of the same feelings as you. She's back at it with renewed excitement and it can be really trying.
Here are some things I've been trying to do. I'm trying to remember them all. I feel like I've had to put way more thought into this than I expected... and some moments I feel just like you. And others I feel so happy that they are both nursing.
- time wakings in the morning so I can nurse DD1 (S) in her bed alone (DD2 is in our bed at that time), 'filling her up' with solo mama-love. I find it starts the day off much much better if I can nurse her by herself in her own space and she wakes up slowly with lots of attention.
- I almost never nurse them together. It's way too stimulating for me and every little touch or movement by S makes it worse. I end up holding her hands still and snapping at her if we do it, which makes me feel resentful and she's not getting what she needs out of nursing which is attention and closeness. She's getting a lot better about taking turns.
- I went to the monthly meeting of our local La Leche League last month (even though I had to force a tantruming S into the carseat to get there) and I met 3 other moms who've tandem nursed. Just talking to them made me feel 100 times better and now I know there's somewhere I can go to unload a little, which feels really good and S had a fabulous time playing with the 2 other 'big kids'
- I'm reading Adventures in Tandem Nursing, and it talks about giving the older child undivided 10 minutes as soon as the newborn is asleep, before doing the laundry or making that one phone call etc. I'm not very good at this, but I'm trying and it does make a difference.
- talking a lot to S about her own babyhood and how she got to nurse all by herself for so long, we made an album on iphoto with pictures of her breastfeeding as a newborn and baby and of her starting to eat food, talking about how Z needs milk to grow so she can get big enough to play with.
- I try to give S as long a session in the morning as she wants, but the rest of them I have to limit them somewhat or she'd stay on forever and I can't take that on top of nursing a growth spurting infant, even if Z would let me sit with S all day. I sing the ABC song or Twinkle Twinkle, or say she can have 5 sucks (and I count them out on her fingers, giving her a little hand massage at the same time). S always wants to try both sides so it's often 5 sucks per side (and both hands massaged). By bedtime I'm seriously touched out so I'm really firm about these limits. And maybe because she learned to fall asleep without nursing during my pregnancy, she seems to be ok with it.
- I bought a new water bottle with a straw spout, so I don't have to undo anything to drink. I take it everywhere with me and try to always keep it filled.
- S loves almond milk (the vanilla one with sugar in it) so if I really don't feel up for nursing her that's what I offer (it's a big treat for her) and I try to make sure I cuddle her and read a book with her close by the same time.
- S just stopped napping consistently, but I agree with trying to lie down and nap-nurse the baby once during the day. It's so much easier to be patient with the older kid when you're not exhausted. I've been putting on a 30 min video here and there to get some time to do this. I find myself feeling really easily frustrated and snappish at her when I'm tired or hungry.
That's a long list and I'm sure there are more things I'm doing to try to balance this ever-evolving relationship. It's not easy but I do think it's worth giving it a go trying some boundaries/self-care for you before trying to wean cold-turkey. Your older DD has just had the hugest transition of her life and if you do end up weaning her, going a slower, gentler route is sure to be a lot easier on her.
Big hugs and hope you can find some real-life support to take more breaks and recharge yourself so you have the stores to give both your kids.
This is me! Happy to still be able to share this with my 2 year old one minute, but feeling overtouched/violated/resentful/angry the next. On top of that, her latch is sometimes messed up and she bites a little, and when I try and end the nursing session she freaks. out....as in shrieking, clawing at my breast, and ripping at my shirt and bra (exactly the sort of response that makes me amenable to letting her nurse!). I've managed to limit it to first thing in the morning when she wakes up, and right before bed. Its helped a lot, and even though there are times when it so aggravating that I want to claw my own face off and not have her touch me anywhere, I can suck it up and get through it because its just the morning and bedtime. It took 6 weeks of my mat leave to get there, but it helped. I told her stories about how she only had booby when she didn't have any teeth, and how lucky she is now because she can have lots of other food now that she's bigger. Also, whenever she needed me, I told the baby (whether he was awake or not, needing me or not) that Fiona needed me and that he would have to be patient. I don't know if that helped with the nursing, but it did with other things.
I still thoroughly hate it sometimes (far frm the majority of the time), but it does get better when its not all. the. time. I know that when she finally does wean I'll be a little sad on some level, and that when the time comes I'll be glad that I was able to continue until she was ready.
I hope it gets better for you.
Mama to F (3/09) and S (3/11); and never forgetting my babe gone too soon (4/10).
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