Thursday, July 29, 2010

Are you breastfeeding? Well, sort of ...

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.


  1. Can't believe your finding the time and energy to post, but I'm so glad that you are.

    DO NOT worry about what other people think about this. Don't beat yourself up. Don't let anyone make you doubt yourself. I didn't have twins, but had a lot of problems. I did a combination of pumping, nursing, and formula. Pumping is much harder than nursing and you should be so proud of yourself. I'm so glad to hear that you rented a pump. The hospital grade pump is so much better than anything you can buy. After 2 months, it may be okay to go to one that you can purchase, but definitely stay with hospital grade for at least 8 weeks. I can't believe the hospital wouldn't let you pump. I've never heard of any hosptital doing that. It's much more common for them to push formula.

    I had a lot of good support. Most people were amazed that I kept going as long as I did (7 mos). I hope that you'll find that kind of support. As far as how to answer the question about breastfeeding; I think you should just say that your doing exclusive pumping because Tadpole had latching problems that led to other problems.

    Oh, and as for being judgmental. I found out the same thing after may baby came. I even felt that God was punishing me for having been so judgmental. Hormones!

    I'll be thinking of all four of you. Try to rest and eat lots of oatmeal for making milk. Sleep and oatmeal are the 2 best things you can do for your milk supply.

  2. Oh, and one more thing. As long as you're keeping your milk supply going, the option to put your babies on your breast later is always there. Using a wide mouth bottle will help them transition if you think you may want to do that (I used NUK). It's nice to know that the option is available for the closeness that you talked about. After I quit nursing, I would hold my baby cheek to cheek or do skin on skin to get the closeness back.

    I could talk about this all night, but I'll try to stop.

  3. I think what you are doing is great! Breastfeeding is hard whether you have a singleton or twins! After watching a friend totally beat herself up when breastfeeding wasn't going well, I vowed not to get worried about it. If I could, I could and if I couldn't, I couldn't. Drake was breastfed for 4 months! Pumping is a lot of work and I commend you for doing it.

  4. honey, no judgement here. I too was going to breastfeed- for 2 years!- and cloth diaper. Nada... Breastfed for 3 months until my milk dried up, and because Bobby has sensitive skin like Mama, I wasnt going to do two sets of diapers, so they both get organic biodegradable disposables! You have to do what is right for you!

    If you want more closeness than the bottle allows, we still kangaroo/skin to skin our babies, and they are almost 11 months old now!

  5. Oh hon... you are doing a fabulous job! I think we all have hopes and expectations of ourselves, but reality sinks in and we do what we have to in order to get through. Your babies are growing and thriving, and that is because you are meeting their needs and yours. There is no reason for judgement... and if anyone give you grief, just send them my way... I'll set them straight for you ;)!

  6. Your post reminds me SO much of how I felt after my first. Breastfeeding is so freaking hard, I would so much rather go through labor & birth anyday, and people don't tell you that ahead of time. I think it is not knowing that breastfeeding is so painful is what makes it so frustrating as a first timer. I had to supplement my first b/c I was in so much pain. Don't feel bad, even if you were to give them formula and not breastmilk don't feel bad. You have to do what works best for you! Hang in there, it will get better!!!

  7. Kudos to you for coming to what works for you....the breastfeeding is so fraught with guilt, and the sleep deprivation doesn't help! Thinking of you and wishing you some good sleep.

  8. You're the second blog in a row that has talked about this issue! You should check out IFAshley's blog. She just had twins, too!
    I'm hoping to breastfeed, but I had a breast reduction when I was younger so it might not be an option. I figure I'll give it a try, then go from there! Having the opportunity for daddy to join in the bonding experience by also feeding the babies sounds really nice.

  9. Here's Amber's blog:

  10. I'm always a little amazed at home judgemental some women can be towards other women and how unsupportive. You have to do what works for you. If this is working for you and your husband Yay, jump for joy and any one who has a problem can go to hell. I'm glad it's going well and hope it continues to do so. Hope you get a little sleep soon.

  11. My daughter was born March 1st, and about 2-3 weeks in I thought "there is NO way I'm going to be able to breastfeed for 6 months. This is just too time consuming, tiring etc." But 5 months later and things are MUCH easier. So you might be able to breastfeed longer than you think right now. And if not - DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT! We all beat ourselves up too much. Just love those precious babies and all will be good. God bless!

  12. I've written a post to you on my blog.

  13. I think your attitude is great. Think of nursing as a perk! There is a lot of peace in seeing what they're getting out of a bottle that you can't get when nursing. Seriously, God could have given us a gauge of some kind on either the boob or the tummy!
    One thing you might try to eliminate the frustration when nursing is to give them a small bottle and get them so that they aren't so hungry and then nurse. I wouldn't recommend that if your goal was EBF, but if you're doing it for closeness it will make it more enjoyable for all of you.

    As for the pump parts, Medela makes some steamer bags that you put the parts in along with a little water. You put it in the microwave and it sterilizes the parts. You can order them on Amazon. I usually sterilized once every 24 hrs. Don't panic about this though. I'd guess that most people don't do it. We started out in the NICU and they gave us high standards to live up to!

  14. Congratulations on your twins!! I too remember that pumping was the very best way to "breast-feed" my was really the only way I was going to be able to do it! I think the best thing to think about in the beginning is to not have too many expectations! It goes faster than you think! Mine are almost 11 months old!
    BTW, I would love to feature your IF success story if you get a chance on my blog! Here's the link for the questions:

  15. I'm totally there for you, girl. I pretty much exclusively pump these days. Well, that's not even true. They get Breastmilk at every feeding from a bottle, then usually formula to supplment, in order to make it up to 5-6 ounces.

    And I breastfeed whenever I can. And it's wonderful. Even if it's once a day, for each one, it's great. They are latching so much better than they used to. (They are almost four monhts now)

    So, maybe they will get better at latching later and you will put them on the breast. If you want. No judgment. You can if you want.

    I'll be following and wishing you the best.

    It's hard hard hard and you are dong a wonderful thing getting so much of the good stuff in your babies.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!