My Three Nurslings
Brewster NY USA
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 25, No. 2, 2008, pp. 10-11
Breastfeeding is a part of my past, present, and future. I was lucky enough to have been breastfed as a baby, and it was with my mother's urging that I attended my first La Leche League meeting when I was halfway through my pregnancy with my now three-year-old daughter. I felt as though I belonged there and have been attending ever since. My daughter, Nora, arrived on the hottest day of the year in August and it was an incredibly peaceful birth, without drugs or other interventions. My midwife showed me how to latch Nora on, but it was my mother who really helped me start nursing. I would try and Nora would cry and I would try again, and she would fall asleep. My nipples were sore and I was frustrated and tired. Nora's mouth was so tiny, and I had a hard time figuring out how to get her to latch on correctly. With my mother's help and the support of my husband, Nora and I finally seemed to have it figured out after about a month. From then on, everything was great. We both loved being together and nursing! My nursing baby soon became a nursing toddler.
Our breastfeeding relationship was helpful when we traveled to India to visit my husband's family when Nora was 17 months old. With all of the new foods and surroundings, Nora wouldn't eat and was frequently upset. But she nursed more than ever, and we both had that time to get acquainted with a new country and re-acquaint ourselves with each other. My husband's family was very accepting of Nora's nursing (my husband was breastfed, too!) and made my life so easy. I had wondered how they would feel about a nursing toddler, but they all took it in stride and gave only compliments. What a relief!
The next fall I found out I was pregnant again. The surprise of my life came during an ultrasound when I was 12 weeks pregnant -- Nora was going to have two siblings! My husband, calm and collected as always, assured me that everything would be fine, but I wasn't so sure. In fact, I found myself becoming increasingly anxious about how it would work out. We had only planned on having two children, so the thought of three was a shock.
My mother helped me as I started to plan how to help my two babies be born as healthy as possible. I changed my diet and ate better than I ever have before. I knew one thing for certain: I was going to breastfeed no matter what it took. With the help of my midwives, I monitored the babies' growth and, through all this, Nora nursed. She nursed in the midwives' office and at home. She nursed draped around my ever-growing belly at LLL meetings and at the "blessingway" that my friends threw for me as I reached the end of my pregnancy. I started to worry that nursing three was going to be too much, but I didn't know how to tell that to Nora.
After a short, unmedicated, and relatively pain-free labor, my twin boys were born. Ahsan was first and weighed six pounds, one ounce. Zayn appeared eight minutes later and weighed seven pounds, eight ounces. As soon as the excitement quieted down, Nora and my husband headed home to sleep for a while, and Ahsan, Zayn, and I got to know each other. My mother watched over the three of us as they nursed and I rested. I was so overjoyed that they were healthy, but still thought, "How am I going to raise three children?" That thought was cut short by the entrance of Nora and my husband. She wanted to nurse, and I thought she was the biggest child I had ever seen -- a giant compared to my two newborns! Yet, she was still my little girl.
At home, I felt so much more comfortable, but it took a long time to figure out how to use my nursing pillow to feed the boys. Nora, of course, wanted to jump on, too. Ahsan and Zayn couldn't stay latched on by themselves so I spent a lot of time trying to balance them on the pillow and holding each breast so they could nurse. I was exhausted and elated, and I was starting to feel overwhelmed by my three nurslings. Nora and I talked and planned, and she weaned close to her third birthday. I was so proud of both of us for nursing through her infancy into toddlerhood.
I've received many comments about nursing my sons, from "Are you sure you have enough milk?" to "Wow, they're growing so well, you could nurse quadruplets!" Life is very busy, but it's also fun. My ever-loving mother moved in with us to help, and I don't know what I would do without her. My husband can make all three children laugh harder than anyone, and I'm enjoying being with my family! I'm also thankful to my LLL Group, who went out of their way to bring us meals for weeks after Ahsan and Zayn were born, and when they visited, they stayed and played with Nora.
Zayn and Ahsan are now almost eight months old, and time has flown. They are exclusively breastfed, and none of us would have it any other way. La Leche League has given me so much: friends who will be with me through my life, and memories that I can never forget. I'm so glad my mother talked me into going to my first LLL meeting almost four years ago, and that I trusted my instincts to know what was right for my family.
Editor's Note: Many women who are expecting twins ask questions about coordinating breastfeeding for more than one baby. In Mothering Multiples, author Karen Kerkhoff Gromada offers valuable information on all aspects of caring for multiples. To order, go to www.llli.org.