I am so tired taking care of two babies, there has been no time to post! This is a rare event where they're both sleeping and I just would rather write than catch up on stuff around the house (but who knows how long that will last?).
One of the first things I want to say is that pretty much since Day 1 (or rather Day -2 when the induction started?) I have become a MUCH less judgmental person. I didn't even realize how judgmental I was. I was going to have the perfect birth, I wasn't going to have an epidural or a c-section or possibly not even painkillers at all. And then I was going to breastfeed for at least a year, and use cloth diapers. Because I apparently am perfect. Hahahahaha.
Pretty much ALL of that has gone completely out the window. I'm exhausted. I never really knew what sleep deprivation was, and now I understand why it's such a great torture device. So forget all that and let's start from scratch.
If there is one thing I am starting to hate about parenthood, it's constantly being asked by everyone and their brother whether I am breastfeeding. And I don't actually even have a straight yes-or-no answer to that. No, I am not technically breastfeeding. However, I'm not really formula feeding either. (huh? what the hell are you talking about? <--- what most people probably think). I am pumping and managing to get 75-100% of the babies' calories that way (depending on the day), and supplementing with formula when necessary. And I'm getting really sick of explaining that to people. I am about to start saying "yes, I am breastfeeding!" although it might be a bit confusing when I then pull out a bottle.
Let's try to keep this short and sweet (ok, that's not happening). Breastfeeding in the hospital didn't go that well. To revert to using nicknames (Tadpole is the girl, Turtle is the boy), Turtle was great at latching on (as far as I could tell without much help from the nurses, who were more about fixing things later than getting them started right), but he didn't seem to get enough to satisfy him and would feed for hours and hours and still be hungry and losing weight, while I didn't get any sleep. Tadpole couldn't seem to latch on at all. Her hands were always in the way, and then she couldn't do it right and I'd have to get her off and start over and she'd get more and more frustrated and in the process she was destroying my nipples. I was in pain, and then I'd get tense, which isn't good for the letdown reflex, and a vicious cycle would start. Pretty soon, it made it tough to breastfeed even Turtle, who had a good latch most of the time. Things weren't going well.
At a certain point, one of the babies (I'm assuming Tadpole, but I'm not sure) had lost more than 10% of their birth weight, and the nurses were concerned. I'm not going to go into every single thing we tried, or how some of them were such militant lactation consultants that they would not even consider formula or a breast pump. Let's just say that my poor husband woke up to all three of us crying one night. And we HAD to start supplementing, because the babies couldn't lose any more weight.
So anyway, when we got home we rented a pump (the hospital never even let me try to pump), and I really liked giving my nipples a chance to heal and not having the pain anymore. Yes, I missed the closeness of nursing my babies, but I couldn't relax, and they couldn't get enough milk. Pumping is working great - I have more time to spend with the babies, I have more time to take care of our house and our lives, my babies get most of the benefits of being breastfed, I get most of the benefits of breastfeeding, my husband gets to bond with the babies by bottle-feeding them, and we can have someone watch them at night once in a while, while we sleep (yes, I have to get up to pump, but it's 15 minutes and then back to sleep).
So. It works for us. It probably won't work forever, because the logistics will be difficult once we need to spend a very long day away from home, or travel to Italy. But it will work for at least a few months, and maybe a few more after that and then we'll see. I am trying to stop beating myself up about it, and I'm in the process of deciding that it's no one else's damn business. I have never felt so judged in my life, and I'm putting my foot down.
And by the way - all of the women who are judging me have never tried to breastfeed twins! I know it's possible, and it's probably wonderful, but it's also really freaking hard. Spending hours breastfeeding only to have your baby cry in hunger right afterward and immediately take a bottle of forumla, or have him or her refuse the breast in the first place - well, it's tough. As our pediatrician says, we need to worry about the babies, but also about ourselves and our own sanity, or else we can't take care of them. And it's true.
So. That is probably all that I will say about breastfeeding, I doubt I'll bring it up again. I went through a really tough time and cried quite a bit and felt like shit and let people make me feel like shit and I feel like I've come out of it with a plan and some success and I am happy. And that's what matters.