I thoroughly enjoyed this post by The Madmomma. Her children are a few months older than mine, but the age gap between our first and second child is the same – 22m.
I often wondered how she managed while nursing her little one and now this post made me feel less alone in what I go through. It is not harrowing or difficult – just something to deal with. Managing the first child who is also still a very young child (and would have been treated really like a baby had he been the only child) while nursing the second child.
I have KG (kutti girl) down on the “Boppy pillow” and sit down to nurse her on our bed. No matter what KB (kutti boy) is doing, the moment he sees me go upstairs to nurse, he follows me. So I just tell him matter of factly, like it is some kind of team work, “KG, vaa, kutti baby’ku fiding panlam”! (“fiding” he says for “feeding”). And the little troop of three marches on upstairs for the fiding mission. I never even thought for a second about closing the door when I nurse baby girl. It would have made my life and my mother’s life hell if KB had been shut out. He simply had to be allowed in the room and I just could not even imagine shutting him out every two hours when I nurse the little one.
Now, how do I tell this little toddler that she is a tender little baby and that he should not shriek in top pitch right by her ears “kutti kutti” or hold her little feet and pull and push on it while she is nursing? I know he won’t understand, I know he wont’ stop. She just has to learn to live with her brother petting her while she feeds. And I just assume she enjoys it.
I sit there like a captive cow watching his antics and often screaming on top of my voice when he suddenly darts out of my sight, and I maw “Amma…Amma….”, calling out to my mother to keep an eye on him. He suddenly runs out of the room carrying my water jug or doing peekaboo with KG’s blanket. I have horrible visions of little Jack tumbling down the stairs and us having to rush to the ER and I raise my voice even louder “Ammmmaaa…”. If the decibel level is particularly high, the poor little child gets startled. KB suddenly rushes back in, satisfied I suppose that he has rattled me enough and jumps back on bed and acts like he has missed his little sister all that while and bends down and rams his big head towards us. I just push him aside only to have him do it again. If he rams hard enough, KG pouts in the most adorable manner and I am secretly thanking him for bringing out such a cute expression on her face. Then he sits around talking about world affairs to me: “Flower, Bee, Jooch” he says, meaning “Bee went and drank juice from the flower”. “Kitty cat. Varave ille. Maadikku. Olinju. Yengyovaa” meaning “Kitty cat did not show up on his morning walk with Patti, it went upstairs and hid far away some place”. I am happy to keep him in conversation and away from anything that will stress me out. And suddenly he spots his Crayola washable markers. And sits down to draw “spilal” (spiral). Draws a spiral rapidly and suddenly throws the yellow marker on the bed and watches the ink seep through to the beige, just laundered bed sheet while I scream “No, no no, don’t do that. Take it off KG! Take it off NOW! And he looks at me wide eyed. Pauses. And then picks it up”. And says “Messy! “. Oh really? I didn’t know!
And then he looks out the window and says “Poochandi, vaa vaa vaa”. My mom tells him that the big bad guy on the tree top way up there “Poochandi” will come and get him when he does some mischief. He invites Poochandi lovingly waving his hand looking out the window because I screamed at him for messing up the bed sheet. Clearly this tactic is not working! He then orders me to stop feeding her and put her on the pillow next to him so he can pet her! I say “Wait Kanna, baby not done feeding” He starts raising his voice – “Pillow, Pillow….PILLOOOOOW”. And when she is done nursing, I triumphantly put her on the pillow and stretch and watch him fondly playing with his little sister tenderly putting his index finger on her cheeks or doing “nochee nochee” and put his nose against hers.
Challenging as it is to breast feed a second baby when there is another older sibling to take care of, it is also a lot of fun. There is company first of all. And then it is interesting to see how the little child just copes with all this and after a few days she is so cool about it – big brother keeps mauling her and I scream and chat and she learns to cope with it all. She doesn’t seem to mind and if she minds she lets us know. The first few weeks are a little difficult though until supply/demand is established and the older also comes to terms with mamma being tied up every two hours with nursing the little one. But the benefits of breast feeding are way too many to give up on it and it is worth persevering. My point is the one mentioned in this article: “"It can't do all of the things that are being claimed for it," Dr. Kramer said, injecting a note of caution into the debate. "But it probably does some of them." And even that makes it worth it. Because once we tide through the change phase for all of us – the mother, the first and the second child – it is smooth and becomes easy. Even if you confer one of the health benefits mentioned in this article (and many more), it is worth it.