When I was pregnant with Primrose I hoped to feed her until she was six months; never did it cross my mind that 3 years down the line I’d not only still be feeding her but also feeding her little sister My girls are 17 months and 32 months and both nurse a couple of times a day.
We’ve come a long way since our nervous beginnings; from the initial few days of figuring out what goes where and the first time nursing in public. On that first outing my mum came with me. I had dressed carefully, taking advice from an online breastfeeding forum to wear a layer I could pull down and a layer I could pull up, thus enabling tiny to latch on while remaining discreet. After a bit of fumbling about and my mums reassurance that all flesh was contained I sat back and nursed my little one. Over the following weeks I got braver and stopped fretting about discretion. I soon realised that it made more sense to wear something that could be pulled up and down quickly as opposed to a discreet but intricate system. Soon we were nursing in slings, while shopping ,while out walking, there was nowhere that us two experts could not nurse.
When Primrose was six months we began to gently introduce solids through the baby led weaning approach and a few weeks after that we discovered I was pregnant again so we then went through the ups and downs of pregnant nursing. She weaned at 13 ½ months when my milk dried up, I was almost 8 months pregnant, but a year later she decided that she wanted to nurse again. So just like that, I was tandem feeding toddlers.
Toddler nursing and in particular toddler tandem nursing is a long way from the gentle baby days where my little darling would suckle quietly as I chatted to friends. No longer is nursing time signalled by a little one nuzzling in her sling, gently mewling for a feed, now it’s loud and proud toddlers in the seat of the shopping trolley screaming ‘BOOBIE NOW.’ When my girls were infants I’d feed them on demand, anytime anywhere,now I often try to hold them off with a cup of water or a sandwich until it’s a little more convenient for me.
Gone is the cradle hold, the football hold and the gentle positioning techniques. The minute I take my top off to get dressed or have a shower, tiny greedy eyes light up and I’ll generally just lean over or kneel and they’ll stand there, arms hugging me, feeding. If I sit on the couch I’m in danger of being clambered on, my top wrenched up and a little one snuggling in for a feed. They feed their dolls, they get me to feed their dolls. My 2 ½ year old will tell you proudly,‘I have nipple boobs now but when I a big woman I have big boobies and feed my baby that comes out my ‘gina.’ Oh yes, they’re growing up fast.
I’ve recently had to have a little chat with my girls to explain to them that mummy’s boobies are ‘private’ and when we’re visiting people they either take turns feeding or we go somewhere ‘private’ where they can both feed together. Feeding time is not so much about feeding anymore as it is a family activity. To be honest it’s gotten to be a bit of a production. Like anything else we do there is a lot of giggling, jostling, chatting, messing and general toddlerness. This is all well and good but I’ve moved a little out of my comfort zone when I’m trying to have a conversation with another adult with my top up around my ears and two nutters wrestling over my boobs.
I jokingly called it ‘boobiefest’ one day and it caught on.
‘Mummy, I want a boobiefest NOW.’
‘In a minute love, when I’ve finished cleaning up the little poo pile your sister left behind the couch.’
Did I mention I have to hum ‘neeee, neeeee’ while feeding? It started a few weeks ago when Primrose was complaining the Buttercup had emptied ‘her’ boob. I pretended to fill it up while making the aforementioned ‘neee’ sound. Bad mistake. Himself thinks it’s hilarious and keeps suggesting to the girls that I ought to make a ‘bing’ noise when it’s full. Pity I can’t reach to kick him when the two savages are nursing.
Everything about our nursing relationship feels right to me and totally normal. I’m not sure how long this wonderful part of our reationship will continue but we’ll be at it as long as they like. We may be heading towards the outer reaches of parenting normality in this country but that’s society’s issue. My family are very happy.