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Smelling sweetly from his bath, it was time for Yaroni's nightly top-off. As he blissfully sucked himself to sleep, we curled up in the rocker, nursing pillow in place. Sharing mother-son bonding time; all was right in the world. Untilâ€¦
Chomp. Scream! Giggle, giggle, innocent look.
"What?! Did he just bite me?" I thought incredulously. "And then laugh about it? No, not my blue-eyed, blond-haired cherub. Obviously a mistake."
Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I placed him again at the breast.
Chomp. Scream! Giggle, giggle and a slightly less innocent look.
We had reached a strange sort of nightly ritual.
The weaning process begins with the baby's first bite of solids. And at 13 months, the twins were eating solids well (or at least making a fairly good pretense of it). Nursing was now purely a night-time relaxation session - with hot drink!
If they consumed at least half of what they smeared all over their bodies and immediate surroundings, they were definitely attaining at least their minimal daily caloric intake even while redefining Newton's laws.
Each night after getting them back from the cleaners, I would nurse each one in turn, starting with Kinneret whom I'd then place in her crib so she could get herself to sleep.
Yaron was a different story: Breastfeeding for him was the trigger for his little body clock to wind down.
With all three of us locked in this comforting cycle of nursing to sleep, I wasn't sure when I'd actually close the milk bar.
With my big boy Ya'ir (who'll be three in another two months) it was easy: At 11 months he decided he'd had enough and stopped. We'd already gradually phased out meals, starting with stopping pumping at work by eight months and then gradually dropping the morning feed and afternoon snack. By the time he stopped the pre-bed feed on his own initiative, my body had habituated itself to a diminishing supply and acquiesced easily to stopping.
Weaning the twins was another matter altogether.
After several evenings of Yaron's new antics, I was in such pain while nursing that it felt like a shard of glass was being scraped against my raw nipple with every suck. I had bite marks and open wounds and was gritting my teeth and shuddering at the onset of every feed.
Surprisingly, stopping hadn't really occurred to me, as I was waiting for the twins to take the lead and tell me when they'd had enough. It took a wise coworker to point out that perhaps I'd done my best for them and it was okay if I'd had enough.
Feeling like a real sucker, to absolve my typical maternal guilt I thought, "Maybe this is Yaroni's way of saying he's ready to stop."
BEFORE THEY were born, I'd set out nursing the twins with the idea that if I could get them through the first six months, I'd done my civic duty. But surprisingly, it went very well. Too well, in fact. Kinneret refused to start solids until seven-and-a-half months. Nor would she take a bottle. This made going back to work a twice-daily commute for the first few weeks as I would race to feed her.
She never did start drinking milk from a bottle, but instead began her love affair with her chosen comfort food, cottage cheese.
Yaron followed the textbook and happily started solids at six months, while keeping a base-diet of breast milk - fresh or expressed.
By 11 months, I'd thrown in the towel on pumping at work and said goodbye to my trusty Medela double pump. The next feed to fall was the post-daycare snack. A few weeks later I dumped the morning slurp and mightily destressified getting out of the house.
BUT NOW I was suddenly giving up nursing altogether.
One Friday, a few days after I stopped, I started to feel feverish and had flu-like symptoms, plus my breasts were engorged, hard and lumpy. Much like when the milk first came in, they were beginning to leak again (thank heaven for disposable breast pads) and much like my brothers in adolescence, all I could think about was boobs.
Putting in an emergency call to the States to my four-time breast feeder mother and two-time nurser, doctor sister-in-law on the Friday after Thanksgiving (they were out shopping together and having a girly time anyway), I received the missing advice I needed to make the experience more bearable.
"It sounds like you may be developing mastitis," said my Mom. "Stuff your bra with cabbage leaves."
My sister-in-law emphasized that the most important thing at this point was to reduce the engorgement and prevent blocked plugs.
"Taking a shower and massaging your breasts may bring some relief, but the best way to get the milk out is by using a baby. Put Kinneret on the breast, and if there is a specifically painful, hard, or red spot, point her chin in that direction."
She suggested taking mild pain killers and said that if things got worse, I may need to get a prescription for antibiotics.
When I tried to get her to nurse before bed, Kinneret contrarily refused. A few hours later, however, I caught her unawares (literally) and she happily complied.
That final nursing session was the equivalent of the breasts' going out of business sale. It was all they needed to reduce the back stock and free my mind and body for other things.
The Dan dairy is closed.
The writer is the mother of three-in-diapers. firstname.lastname@example.org