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.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Birth story

I'm not sure where to start, but I definitely want to get this down before I start forgetting details.

I went to the birthing center for a non-stress test on Saturday, July 3, and the OB on call finally noticed my climbing blood pressure. Everything else looked good, but she ran a urine test and saw protein in my urine, so asked me to take home a jug and do a 24-hour urine test. If it was positive, there was a good chance we wouldn't be going home before the babies were born, so we frantically (and finally) finished packing our hospital bags and putting carseats in the car. I don't think we really believed that anything would happen, though.

We returned on July 4 at 11 and waited an hour with the babies on monitors. The OB came in and said my protein level was 5 times higher than normal, that I would be admitted, and that she recommended induction. We agreed (I had been starting to be pretty horrified by my blood pressure, because it's always been low). Some of the nurses were finally horrified by my swollen feet and legs, too, and they were doing relatively well that day!

They set us up in a labor and delivery room and started the pitocin, and by mid-afternoon I was finally feeling contractions. Nothing too bad, though, and I was disappointed to not really be dilating. I was hooked up to the baby monitor with a strap for each baby and a contraction monitor, and was having continuous blood pressure monitoring as well - a cuff that was set to automatically inflate every 10 minutes. We watched a few fireworks from our hospital room window, and we opted to try a foley bulb for the night to help with dilation.

Unfortunately, it only helped a bit, and the next day, Monday July 5, I was still not even 4 cm dilated. They started upping the pitocin, but it seemed that my body was getting used to it, because it took them half the day and large doses to get contractions going again. Finally, the doctor proposed breaking the amniotic sac, since I was dilated just enough. At that point, the contractions became strong and painful, but I could handle them pretty well while sitting up. Again unfortunately, when I sat up, my blood pressure would spike, and I was forced to stay lying in bed, where the contractions were unbearable. And still not dilating very quickly at all. After hours of this, and knowing there would still be hours left to go (despite nurses expecting July 5 babies), I finally opted for an epidural. I still feel that I could have tolerated the pain if I could use the pain techniques I had learned in class, but alas, I was stuck in bed flat on my back.

The epidural came at 7pm and was awesome, a huge breath of relief. Ironically, just sitting up to have the anesthesiologist put it in lessened the pain so much that I almost changed my mind, but I knew I'd have to lie back down again. I didn't feel any more contractions after that, it was strange to see them going on the monitor while my husband and I watched the Lord of the Rings. But still no progress in dilation until they really upped the pitocin. At least I was able to get some sleep.

My OB was on call that night and kept us company throughout the night. Finally, finally, at 4am on July 6, she pronounced that I was ready to start pushing. At some point they had switched Baby A to internal monitoring (they found it impossible to keep her heart rate on the monitors otherwise), and internal contraction monitoring, plus they put in a foley catheter, plus I now had the epidural tubes and pitocin IV, and the blood pressure cuff - I was attached to everything in sight, it was a mess. But I was so ready to see my babies!

The OB explained that I would start pushing and see how things went, and she expected that in 15-20 minutes we'd start moving to the OR, as is the standard procedure for delivering twins at my hospital. After an hour of pushing, and I mean REALLY pushing (which let me tell you is rather difficult when you can't feel the lower half of your body), I was started to get suspicious of why we were still in the labor and delivery room. The OB admitted that I wasn't making any progress, even though I was doing a great job. I was determined to get these babies out, after all those hours of labor and getting to that point. I pushed harder.

Another hour went by, and I asked again - any progress? Still ... nothing. Everyone could see Baby A's head appear when I pushed, but it would disappear again when I'd stop. And the contractions were still few and far between, which didn't help the pushing, either. After 2.5 hours, the doctor was concerned, and said it was time to make a decision. She recommended doing a C-section, but would let me keep pushing while the staff was called and the OR prepared, in case a miracle happened. I was still hoping for the miracle, and pushed some more. My husband told me he could see the veins standing out in my face. At 7am, I admitted defeat, which was in a way a bit of a relief. I had been through just about every intervention possible since being admitted to the hospital, I knew I had no control over this labor, and I was starting to believe there weren't really any babies in there and everyone had been lying to me the whole time. I just wanted to see my babies.

I was moved into the OR, the sweetest anesthesiologist in the world found some music I liked to play during the delivery, and everything was prepared. Finally, my husband was brought in and everything got crazy and busy!

Jose.p.hine was born at 8:20 am, weighing 6 pounds 3 ounces:

Her brother, Vin.ce.nzo, was born at 8:21 am, weighing 6 pounds 13 ounces:
It was so incredibly emotional. I cried. I couldn't believe that those two beautiful babies were really ours. Even though the last week has been incredibly hard, I am still so grateful for how blessed we have been.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Quick note to catch up ... big news!

Babies are here!!!! Actually, tomorrow they will be one week old. Birth story and photos to come as soon as I can catch my breath. Sorry for the silence - life is hectic! Now off to bed to try to get some sleep so tomorrow I can catch up.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


I was going to write about my OB appointment on Thursday, and how frustrating it was. The doctor is not the one I regularly see - he's the only man in the practice, and while I like certain things about him (he LOVES doing breech extractions for Baby B rather than C-sections, when it's necessary), he's also been very laid back. He wanted to just keep waiting to 39 or even 40 weeks and see what happens. He also wanted to measure the babies and do a cervical check, but figured we might as well wait until next week. I was a little demoralized at the thought of having to go three more weeks, unable to turn in bed, unable to fit into shoes, barely able to get up off a chair or get out of the car.

But then ... today I went into the birthing center for my morning NST, which went well. I had a high school friend's wedding this afternoon, about a 45-minute drive away. After the NST, the doctor came in, which has never happened before (usually I only see nurses), and started talking to us about my blood pressure and pre-eclampsia, which I was already suspecting a week or two ago, but no one seemed to notice before. She noticed my BP had gradually been getting higher, and she wanted to check it again while I was sitting up instead of relaxing in the bed. Bad news - it got much higher.

So they did a urine and blood test and had the machine automatically check my BP every 5 minutes for about an hour, and it just kept getting worse, and the urine came back with protein. They sent me home with jugs for a 24-hour urine collection test and an appointment to go back tomorrow for a follow-up NST and to check my urine. If it's not good, I'll be admitted and induced. If it's ok, I will get probably a 2-3 day reprieve, but I'll likely be induced by the end of the week.

So! Finally something is happening. I obviously don't want pre-eclampsia, and given the choice, I wish my body would just go into labor instead of having to be induced, but I have to say I'm relieved. Waiting indefinitely while things have gotten so much harder, and in fact starting to feel like I wasn't going to make it, that was getting tough.

So now I have less than 24 hours to get my hospital bag finished off and try to relax and take it easy on modified bed rest. Tomorrow just might be the big day! And if it's not, I still only have a few days to go. I'm about to work on the memory books a bit more, read a novel, and watch my kitty sleep in peace, while my husband installs the carseats and works a bit.

Good thing, too, since it really feels like the babies are trying to break out my either popping a few ribs or breaking through my skin. I can't wait! Will update either way whenever I can.