When we found out that we were expecting Elma Kitty was still nursing morning, nap and night. For me at least, nursing is clearly not a way to not get pregnant.
I’m not sure the thought of ever deliberately weaning Kitty ever crossed my mind; we’d always said we’d let her wean at her own pace as long as it continued to work for us and so in default of any good ideas to the contrary, we just kept going as we were. And as I hit the third trimester, and she hit two, over the course of a week or so she just stopped.
If I hadn’t been pregnant she might have gone on longer, or she might not; at the time it felt like it was her decision more than it felt like something being forced on her by my body switching back to making colostrum in preparation for Elma’s arrival. Our health visitors mentioned that she might want to start up again once the baby arrived but Kitty showed absolutely no interest in Mama-milk, other than as food for Elma (and don’t get me wrong, it was like having a permanent pint sized health visitor at my elbow every time Elma squeaked).
But Kitty was five months older when she started to get to grips with the whole baby sibling concept, and that five months is making a difference.
As of right now (31 weeks) Elma nurses at most of her nap times (when she’s with me – she dropped milk at nursery at about a year) and at bedtime. If I’m not there for whatever reason she’ll quite happily let her Daddy rock her to sleep, but she’d rather have Mummy.
Purely for the sake of anyone out there looking for information, I’m still nursing cross cradle with Elma; she’s a bit propped on the bump (which I will vainly claim is making me carry low, not the complete absence of the operation of my tummy muscles after umpteen pregnancies in so many years), but mostly I shuffle her so that her weight is in my arms (which rest on the arms of the rocking chair) and on the chair itself. As she gets sleepier and unlatches I’ll shuffle her down a bit so that she’s more in my lap, and we’re pretty comfy that way.
With Kitty she’d got far too wriggly a nurser for the rocker even before I was pregnant and we’d decamped to my bed. She continued nursing lying down and then snuggling up to sleep until she weaned and then just cuddled up to sleep. Sometimes we moved her to her bed and sometimes we didn’t, and there are worse things in the world when you’re pregnant to be required to have a nice little lie down every evening – it definitely helped with the morning sickness!
But back to now. My strong suspicion, mostly based on feel, and the fact that I can’t express anything, is that we’re onto colostrum again and that the nursing is as much for comfort as it is for a full tummy, and probably more so. Whether she weans before the baby arrives or not is entirely up to Elma; I’m not going to force it unless something happens that makes it unavoidable.
In a funny way I don’t really know which way I want it to go. I’ll admit it was nice having a little break between the elder two, but at the same time I don’t want to feel that I shortchanged Elma simply because the age gap to her younger sibling is smaller than the one to her big sister. Perhaps that’s a good thing; if I have no strong feeling about the outcome then I can let Elma make the choice without feeling guilt or conflicted about the outcome, and that can only be a good thing.
And so I just sit and watch and wait. If we end up tandem nursing then that’s OK, at least in principle; I have absolutely no idea how to arrange the babies, or which order to feed them in or anything like that but I’m sure I’ll figure it out just as we will all the other unforeseen challenges of parenting three little ones. All that being said, if anyone has any top tips, either about keeping everything spinning with three little ones or tandem nursing in particular please do let me know!