Let’s start with the good news: This is not your first baby. Having your first baby is so hard because you have no idea what is coming for you.
And then there’s the bad news: You have done this before and you remember what happened last time.
But there’s more good news: We can use that to our advantage to make this better this time.
Around here at Balanced Breastfeeding, we call past breastfeeding difficulty “booby baggage.” The best way to know if you have booby baggage is to spend some time reflecting on your last breastfeeding experience and discovering the “hot spots” in your story. A hot spot is a memory that feels emotionally charged. Thinking of it evokes feelings of fear, sadness, anxiety, guilt, anger, etc.
So, here is what we are going to do:
- Journal out all the memories of breastfeeding.
- Mark the “hot spots.”
- Determine which hot spots inevitably will not happen again since you have done this before.
- Make a strategic plan to specifically address these hot spots so that you will be prepared for them this time, should they reoccur.
Sound good? Okay, let’s do it.
Journal out all the memories of breastfeeding.
Take some time to journal out everything you remember about your entire breastfeeding experience with your first baby. Try to find about 15-20 minutes of uninterrupted time to do this exercise. This shouldn’t be a multi-tasked activity, i.e. not while watching TV or playing with your kid. Carve out the time for quiet, focused reflection.
Include positive and negative memories. Try to let yourself replay and repeat the entire journey from beginning to end.
Notice how you feel as you recall each memory. If the memory feels uncomfortable or elicits a negative emotional response in you, place a star next to that memory.
Some thoughts about “having enough love and time to go around” for two or more children:
“Siblings are a gift we give our children, not love we take away.”
Prepare yourself for the fact that someone will likely always be crying in the early months (yourself included).
Assess who has the greatest need and attend to that person (yourself included), even if it leaves someone else crying.
Think of special things the older child can do while you are nursing/pumping. This may mean (gasp!) screen time or special toys that only come out around feeding times.
The pull between breastfeeding and snuggling the newborn and entertaining/spending time with the older child is hard and weighty. It just is. Just do your best to breathe into it and not be too hard on yourself. Let go of the guilt, let go of the feeling of “not enough,” and just try to be.
Your heart doesn’t divide in order to give more love to your babies, it grows. Let go of guilt and give yourself and everyone around you grace.