For most of us, the prospect of successfully breastfeeding one child is intimidating enough. Imagine breastfeeding four kiddos: triplets and a toddler. This is the reality for Ireland-based same-sex couple Cliona and Sue, who are mothers to a triplet boy and two girls, and an older daughter. Their beautiful breastfeeding journey was recently captured by photographer Johanna King.
"Being able to photograph both mums breastfeeding simultaneously all their children at once was brilliant," King told Parents.com.
Echoing my thoughts on the challenges of tandem nursing, King also told us, "Having one baby isn't always easy so mums of twins, triplets, or more are super heroes! Lack of sleep is very difficult to handle and in order to stay sane, we need a minimum of self care and a break here and there. However, with breastfeeding 6-months-old triplets, I don't think 'break' was a part of Sue's life at that stage."
The photographer told The Huffington Post, "I don't think Sue got more than 30 minutes a day (and night) without a baby latched on."
Although King says Sue's approach to breastfeeding the triplets was "methodical," the moms' path to successful nursing was far from easy. The triplets were born two months early and spent a month in the hospital. As Cliona told The Huffington Post about that time, "Sue expressed around the clock, despite the fact that she was exhausted, recovering from a C-section, suffering from serious nipple damage, and at one point got mastitis."
"The most beautiful part about photographing this family was probably seeing Cliona tandem feeding both Aoife and Darra (one of the triplets). This is a very powerful symbol of love to me," King told Parents.com.
She also said about the couple, "I found them inspiring in many ways. They both had rocky starts in their breastfeeding journeys and I know for a fact that very [few] mothers went through relactation like Cliona did and I'm sure there are not that many mothers in the world breastfeeding triplets either. It was the best decision for both of them and their family (and still is) but I can't help but be inspired by their determination."
About the photos King took, Cliona says, "I think they reflect what our house is like―the madness and sheer chaos of it. Like I said to Johanna, it is easy to forget with all the stress and exhaustion that there are beautiful moments too. I am so happy that we will have these gorgeous photos to remind us what it was like when the gang was so young." The mama hopes other parents will see their story, and believe it's possible to breastfeed multiples, despite the challenges.
All photos used with permission of Johanna King Photography.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and soon-to-be mom of 4. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of yoga.