Tandem Nursing; Then (then) and now. {Happy Breastfeeding Awareness Week!}

The girls are so different. Fire and Water, spunk and calm. But when they nurse they entwine fingers, share milky smiles, and Nolie rubs Ever’s back in a way that makes my heart soar. They are two sides of the same coin and share these round doe eyes that give me that look. The one that every Mama knows, the eyes that are so safe and filled, that look that makes my heart slow, my milk pour, and remind me that when I am holding and nourishing these two… everything is right in this world.

I have written about it my nursing relationship(s) here and there { tandem nursing FAQnursing a two year old, and our (baby) breast feeding success story from when Nolie was a wee one), and it really blows my mind that we are *still* nursing. My feelings about breastfeeding Nolie have ebbed and flowed, and I should post an update about what self-weaning looks like and nursing a preschooler(!), and maybe during this month of awareness I will get to it! But for now, I am reveling in how much I am enjoying this phase. Honoring where we are at in this dance, and feeling so much pride and praise for what nursing gives me and my daughters in our every day life.

 

 

971921_10100584073783510_1725406942_nI can hardly believe I have been tandem nursing these girls for 15mo. I can say, (hope!) for anyone who is looking at the tandem nursing journey or thinking about embarking on it. It gets better and easier every day! And the benefits have far outweighed the struggles for our little family.

August is World Breastfeeding Awareness month and I plan to participate fully! Check out  my facebook page for lots of pictures of our nursing adventures and looking back on how the relationships have evolved. There are lots of encouraging stories, incredible photos, and really incredible information about nursing floating around facebook and instagram right now (check out the hashtag #normalizenursing #tandemnursing #extendedbreastfeeding ) and be inspired! Happy Nursing!

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then/now

collage2

Sheesh capish, those girls are growing!

sleep.

Ever only naps in a carrier. I was to be upset about this. Annoyed. Frustrated. Clinging to some ‘self soothing’ myth, “she will never sleep” story, sleep training article. I spent a month frustrated that I was never alone. Mad that my baby wouldn’t sleep anywhere but on me. Blaming myself, Charlie, my ‘bad sleepers’, all of it. And then I decided to throw that out. To choose gratitude.

I sing and dance. I crank the music loud. I color and read books. I walk to the park and push Nolie on the swing. I get out! I go to the museum. The frozen yogurt shop. The grocery store. Epic long 3 year old centric playdates. I chat with Nolie and hear her stories with my attention only on her and not focused on keeping her ‘shushed’ or silent.  All this? because I babywear.

Ever sleeps on my back for at least two naps a day, often three. On the weekends Charlie cuddles her up and naps her. When my parents baby-sit she cozy’s up and rests her little ear next to my Mom’s heart and sleeps on. She isn’t an encumbrance, she is a cozy little heater on my back who is used to my voice/beat/cadence of movement. And? when she wakes? she is On.The.Go.

She plays independently. Sits in the the girls room and sorts through all the toys/blocks/trinkets. She and Nolie wrestle and crawl-chase around the house. She sits in her highchair and powers through meals bigger than her sister. She hoots and hollars and cruises around the house with a constant chant of “mama! papa! Nol-ni!!!” and laughter. So much laughter. She is so fast growing and going that I want these cuddle filled naps to never end. Or, maybe not end for a very very long time.

I can be frustrated with her sleep habits or? I can be overjoyed that during the day we aren’t tied to nap time. We aren’t mute and quiet (in our tiny home). We aren’t sedentary in the least (we are dancing! bouncing! movin’!) and we have a rested and happy baby no matter where we travel.

Praise God that he gave me this baby second. That I have shed the need for her to be “normal” (and, that isn’t out there, I promise) and nap in the “right” place, at the “right” time. Praise God for my little back napper.

She was sick yesterday and we hung around home in jammies all day. Here are naps 1-2-3. I feel pretty incredible that at 10mo old she naps three times a day and gets all that touch and cuddle in while I meet my other sweet girls needs, clean the kitchen, write on my blog, have alone time, chat on the phone, and live a little life outside of our four walls too.

Huzzah for baby wearing!

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baby number two.

How did I ever doubt that I would have enough love for you.

Ever baby. You fill me up. God knew just what he was doing when he made you, our little light. Merry First Christmas.

maternity pictures.

I knew that if I did maternity photos I wanted them in my own home. Planning a home birth, feeling insecure about it and worried that it might not happen. . . it was a leap of faith to schedule my pictures at home. I didn’t want typical maternity pictures, I wanted life style photos that showed what our home life is like- playing, kissing, cuddling, lounging. The pictures captured that. I am looking over these and crying over how perfectly beautiful Evers birth was and how fast these past seven months have gone. I am in love with these photos, taken by a local photographer, Chelsea Newlin (email me for her contact info).

I am standing right where our sweet baby was born just one month later. 

refill please.

Charlie snapped these pictures today and I know they are the forever kind. The ones I will pull up and look at and just cry. This time is so hard and so sweet. Ever is busy. Crawling all over the place, getting into everything, and very particular. Nolie is on the cusp of three and also so busy. Reading, running, painting, talking, and askingaskingasking about everything. Often times by the end of the night I feel like I am poured fully out. Between the constant steam of questions, very little impulse control, big HUGE feelings, nursing endlessly, holding a baby who only naps on me, and talking through huge decisions with my husband. . . I feel empty.

These are the type of pictures that refill. That remind. That hold it all in one frame. The love in the photo, the obvious level of comfort that all three of the subjects have with the photographer, and the reality of it- nursing, cuddling, holding, filled and over flowing.

Ever’s eyes light up, (yes) even brighter, when she see’s her sister. She makes this wonderful gut-laugh-sound that bring all of us together. Nolie holds her, kisses her, absentmindedly rubs her head; Loves her without instruction or trying.

From birth they have shared me, nursed at the same time, waited for each other and been given access to one another. We don’t have a swing/bouncer/playyard/etc. Ever is on the floor with Nolie. They interact and are learning to dance together. Now that Ever is mobile we are coming across new obstacles (Nolie loves to collect tiny things, great timing) and conversations, but still- they play. Cuddle. Love.

My girls. My hope that they grow into foreverfriends, sisters, bonded in every way. I love them, I love my dreams for them. And I love the today reality of their  love.

I will look at these in the poured out hard times.

 

And then, for posterities sake, there are these pictures. The ones taken moments after your sister hugs you a little too tight. It can’t all be roses, right?

baby book- 6 months

Ever started crawling on her six month day. This is a speedy little lady.

camera return.

I have been cameraless for about two weeks. The kids have aged.

2.9

0.49

And a little crafting happened while my hands were empty of the camera.

Dedicated

Charlie and I believe in baby dedication, but won’t ever choose baptism for our girls. We hope that they find their love and refuge in God and love Him but we are well aware that we can’t do anything but love them and be loving examples to them. Baptism, “praying the prayer” and being a Christian is wholly their decision and one I hope that they make when they are older and can have a more full understanding of the depth of that choice.  Dedication is a way for us, as their parents, to have accountability with our church and family and a beautiful prayer for our girls.

Ever Harbor Joy
Born: April 27th, 2012 at home.

Ever – meaning always, everlasting, forever, eternal.
Harbor – Ever’s first middle name, meaning place of security, comfort, rest, and refuge.
Joy – Ever’s second middle name, meaning delight, bliss, happiness, a state of
blessedness.

Ever is a reminder to always hold onto joy.

With these names in mind, we therefore anoint Ever Harbor Joy with oil and join
her parents today to pray that she would come to deeply know how much you love her
heavenly Father.

We pray that she knows you as her Ever, her great Always. We pray that she would
know you as the one who was, is, and is to come, not merely in an abstract sense, but
personally, that you have gone before her, you hold her in the moment, and you will
never leave her.

We pray that she knows you as her Harbor, her Haven, her Refuge. We pray that as she
finds her place in you she would pass through the fire untouched, pass through the rivers and not be swept away, and in the storms of life you would speak the word to calm the storm and lead her to her safe haven.

We pray that she knows you, as her Joy, her great Delight. We pray that the dance, the
song, that is your life, Father, Son, and Spirit, would capture her heart, that she would
know your delight in her, and hear you singing over her.

We pray Father, as she meets you and knows you, that she would shine this out to all
those who know her, to her parents, to her siblings, to her friends. That she would be a
harbor, a haven, and a reminder and experience of your joy to all around her. That she
would be a living witness, leading people back to you, the giver of all good gifts.

Bless this little girl, her parents, her family, Father. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Ever Harbor Joy- naming.

I look at her, burst with Joy and can’t imagine how I ever wondered if I would love her enough. I am breaking open with love for her, light streaming through every bit and piece because of her joy. This girl is changing our world and opening me up to so much. I am falling further and further into love with her each day. I can’t believe how incredibly designed our bodies, hearts and minds are for our babies.

This is a little story for her baby book.

When Nolie was a little more than a year old I was set on only having one kid. I couldn’t imagine that my heart could ever expand enough to love anyone else as much as I loved her. I felt wholly closed off to the idea. Then one Sunday we were sitting in church and they were dedicating a little girl named Everly (A name that had been on the list for Nolie) and I just burst into tears. Her Mom said that they named her Everly because she had been in her heart forever. I completely lost it and felt like for the first time another little girl was laid on my heart with the name Ever. Funny thing is that the plan was to name her Ever Brave, then we got pregnant and the name didn’t feel right, so we settled on Harbor but once she was born she was Ever through and through and more than that she was my Joy and made me overflow- her name will always serve as a reminder to me to hold onto Joy. I love my sweet Ever. And love having two girls with names that are markers of what I hold dearest- Anticipate Grace and Hold onto Joy. Grace and Joy are two attributes I hope to always hold tight.