A friend told several of us that she was nursing her child for the last time and it was a bittersweet feeling. Strangely, I remember the feeling and my “baby” is 15 years old.
My thoughts did not necessarily turn to the last time I nursed that baby but more to the twins. With the twins, nursing was not all that I had experienced with my oldest. It was totally different trying to nourish two little ones at a time, especially considering the vast difference in size of those two little people. #2 had come into the world full-sized. He weighed in at 7 pounds, 15 ounces. I realize that is still a little over a pound shy of my first baby’s weight but he was only half of what was delivered that day. His twin sister joined the world outside the womb at 5 pounds, 11 ounces. #2 managed to hog nourishment in utero and then again once the two of them were out in the real world.
I could not produce enough milk for both babies to nurse exclusively and both babies to thrive. Unlike with my first, I was scheduled to go back to work when the twins were eight weeks old. After all, I had been on disability since 26 weeks of the pregnancy – a common thing back in the late 80’s. I did manage to carry those babies to 38.5 weeks so it was worth being disabled but it meant my employer wanted me back as soon as I could be medically released.
Going back to work with eight week old babies at home brought the first challenge to breastfeeding. Was I going to stop breastfeeding then? Did I want to give it up now that #3 was finally getting the hang of things? I was already supplementing so I was sure #3 was getting enough nourishment. Seems that #2 was being a hog outside the womb also so #3 was “failing to thrive.” What was I going to do?
I went back to work with a breast pump in hand. I would pump during lunch, at any break I got. It was truly intriguing to be sitting at a break table with a blanket over my shoulder and a breast pump in hands. Yes, back in those days, an electric breast pump was a true luxury. Mine was just plastic and manually operated. The men I worked with were a bit uncomfortable at first but it did not take long for them to get use to me and my pump. No one ever drank breast milk from the fridge. I can’t tell you how hard I laugh when I see a sit com where someone mistakenly drinks breast milk.
Then came May. The twins were born the end of January with a due date of February 4. Mid-May I was set to go out of town for a week for a training class. I went back and forth on whether I should go. There were two of us going. Unfortunately, we were the only two that were married with children. What was I going to do? A slightly easier decision for my colleague as he didn’t have the new babies and breastfeeding to throw into the decision mix. Off I went to Atlanta with my breast pump in hand. Yes, I did the same thing at the week’s training sessions. Unfortunately, there was no break table and we all went out to lunch together. I would take every ten minute smoke break and head to the ladies’ room. I would pump and dump. That was hard to do – watch breast milk go down the drain. There was nowhere to store it and I was never going to get it home so there was little choice.
Another month came and went and I needed to have my wisdom teeth removed. I am so smart that I only had three but two of those three were pressing on my sinus cavities and causing great pain during allergy season. That was it. I could not stand to watch more breast milk be pumped and dumped. I decided, even though I had breastfed my first until he was 15 months, that six months was it with the twins. I would use the pain killers from the oral surgery to help reduce the pain as I let my milk supply dry up. It was not an easy decision nor an easy time as it took longer than the convalescence to totally dry up but there is the story that came to mind as I heard my friend say she was done breastfeeding her youngest.
Do you have stories of breastfeeding that you would want to share? What do you think of women who breastfeed in public? What do you think of breastfeeding past a particular age? I swear I won’t hold any responses against you all but realize that I have breastfed for 108 months – that is nine years – of my life. LOL!!