When I was pregnant, I remember looking at pictures of twin moms tandem breastfeeding their littles. The mama looked down fondly at her babies, they looked up lovingly at their mama and conspicuously tucked into the middle of the picture were sweet baby hands intertwined.
I dreamed of when it would be my turn. How sweet it would be to bond with both babies at once, feeding them straight from the source, while they simultaneously hold hands and bond with one another: a triad of closeness and bonding.
But that wasn’t quite my reality.
Because in truth, feeding one baby by breast is really, really hard. Adding another baby can feel like mass chaos. A cruel joke, even.
Putting two boobs into two mouths while fighting four hands and tucking four legs behind you can feel, in a word, overwhelming. I remember finally getting both babies attached felt like the end of a marathon…but it was still the beginning of the feeding session. Both of my hands held both heads in place, but when one detached, I’d have to let them go to get that baby back on. And sometimes, the other would unlatch, as well. It was like Musical Chairs.
I used pillow after pillow, different recliners, different positions. But my reality never quite looked like the pictures.
And then I think about what a picture really is: it’s a free-standing frame. It’s a frozen moment in time. Just one moment. I didn’t see what lead up to the picture. Maybe that mom did wrestle four arms and legs. Maybe her babies did unlatch and detach frequently, but she happened to catch them latched and holding hands and quickly took a picture. Maybe she’s a breastfeeding goddess and she had successful feeding after successful feeding with two. I’ll never know.
My breastfeeding journey ended after about 6 months. I was only able to tandem feed my boys a handful of times. But I’m proud of my body and of its capabilities. I battled a lot those six months and came out the other side stronger.
The dream of tandem breastfeeding was not met with the same reality. But my reality is still just as sweet.
You see, I tandem bottle-feed my boys now. They lay side by side and receive nourishment from me. If you took a picture of it, I imagine it would look similar to the tandem breastfeeding pictures I’d seen during my pregnancy.
Because I, the mama, look down fondly at my babies. My babies look lovingly up at me. And conspicuously tucked between the two of them are their little hands intertwined. And so, we are still a triad of closeness and bonding.
No matter where the food source comes from.