Friday, June 18, 2010

Nursing Twins

I have so many things I want to blog about it’s hard deciding what to start with. Forgive me for ending my sentence with a preposition – it always sounds entirely too formal when I write things like “deciding with which topic to start.” (I think that’s correct…) I finally decided on breast feeding. Long before I met my awesome Lactation Consultant friend Joan, and long before I really learned how much breast feeding benefits both baby and mom, I knew I wanted to try it. I can’t really say why. I often claimed that the only reason I hadn’t looked into getting a breast reduction was because I didn’t want anything to interfere with my ability to breast feed.

When we found out we were having not one, but TWO babies, I was nervous about how I would juggle breast feeding two. I did a lot of research about it and read everything I could get my hands on. I was really bummed when I went to the New Moms Panel at our local Mothers of Twins Club and only ONE woman had attempted BFing and hadn’t done it very long. I tried to remain positive but still had nagging worries in the back of mind. I tried to counter every worry with a vision of me happily nursing both of my healthy babies (That was always another worry – delivering early. But I’ll save that for another time). In my search for other twin moms who breastfed, I even attended a La Leche League meeting. I was so glad to meet a twin mom there who had successfully breastfed her twins.

Fast forward to the arrival of Madeline and Emery. Although born at 36 weeks 5 days, they were very healthy babies. The only issue was jaundice. They started out on biliblankets and we could only take them out long enough for me to try to breastfeed them. After they took them off those, their bilirubin counts jumped back up and they had to take them and put them under stronger lights. Them having to have light therapy coupled with sleepy babies who didn’t want to nurse and had latching issues and constant visitors made for a rough time learning for all of us. I asked for a pump right away but it was unpleasant in the beginning and I was so tired and there were always people around (you can’t pump discreetly – especially when you don’t know what you’re doing).

Since the babies had jaundice the hospital told us we needed to supplement to help flush out whatever it was that was causing the high bilirubins (I don’t remember). They knew I wanted to breast feed so they told us we could finger feed (w/a dropper and a finger in the mouth). We kept getting conflicting advice about breast feeding from each nurse so I finally asked to see a lactation consultant. Of course the first time they came to visit was right after a nasty pediatrician told us we had to give them bottles.. Many of the people who came in told me I shouldn’t feel guilty because we had to give the babies formula. I didn’t feel guilty, I felt FRUSTRATED! Even though the babies were healthy and had good weights, they had lower bilirubin standards to meet because they were technically “premature.”

Because I was so tired and trying to take care of two babies, I wasn’t pumping as much as I needed to be so I became engorged. The nurses showed me how to cut open a diaper and put ice in it to use as an ice pack. So when the time came, we were discharged supplementing. I hated it but I tried to not dwell on supplementing and focus on breast feeding.

And we supplemented for three very long months. Breast feeding AND supplementing is quite a lot of work. I would nurse both babies then we’d have to prepare and give bottles and I also had to find time to pump during all this to try to increase my supply. Luckily Sean got laid off when the babies were a couple weeks old and he was home to help me. It’s quite a challenge to get situated to nurse two babies at once. I hated it when he was gone plowing snow. It was especially hard to do by myself.

For the first two months, barely a day went by that I didn’t think about quitting. I’m not really even sure how I carried on or why. I do know, that in the end, it was all worth it. About a month before I went back to work, Emery stopped wanting a bottle after I nursed him (he was my star nurser long before Madeline was good at it). Then after a bout with reflux, about two weeks before I went back to work, Madeline stopped wanting her bottle too. We had finally done it! Now, I can do everything by myself and have even nursed in the car (while parked). But I definitely need Sean’s help for that.

Although it’s been one of the hardest things I’ve even done (even harder than learning to run), I’m so thankful that we hung in there and I’m glad I’m still able to do it. Exclusively breast feeding is SO MUCH easier than BFing and supplementing with formula. I love not having to mess with bottles. I’m also very thankful that my job allows for pumping. Originally, my goal was six months. But we’ve worked so hard to get to where we are, I plan on trying for one year. It’s been much easier for me mentally since M&E started solids at six months. I feel a sense of relief not having to be the sole source of sustenance for them.

It has been a struggle to keep my supply up with pumping during the workweek. I’m supplement regularly with fenugreek capsules and Yogi Support Nursing tea (it’s really not bad at all). It’s all worth it though, not only do I get to spend lots of quality time with my babies, I get to eat a ton of food too. Granted, I could watch what I eat and probably get down below my pre-pregnancy weight with no problem, but I am always SO hungry, that’s a struggle. Plus, it’s nice to be able to eat pretty much whatever you want for once!

This blog wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention that none of this would’ve been possible with Sean’s support. He had to do a LOT in the beginning to allow me the time to focus on breast feeding. If you’re still reading, thanks. I know this was LONG!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Back in the Saddle

My friend Christina has inspired to me cowboy up, ignore the sleep deprivation, and start blogging again before the twins turn 1. Since my last post was from a few weeks before the babies joined us, I have few things I’d like to cover before we get started – for those of you who aren’t in the know (meaning the few who aren’t on Facebook).

- Madeline Elise (5lb 15oz) and Emery Dale (6lb 7 oz) were born on October 24, 2009. Yes I’ve started their birth story and no, it’s not done. You can add that to a laundry list of things I need to do. Despite having both types of delivery, I was very happy with how things went and the babies only had to spend one extra night in the hospital due to jaundice.

- We are cloth diapering M&E. We did a trial when they were a few weeks old and realized it was beyond manageable and took the plunge. It has since become one of my obsessions. I can see how women go overboard with it so I’m trying to keep my habit within reason.

- I’m still breast feeding. And yes, I nurse them both at the same time. It’s called the EZ2 Nurse pillow and every mom of twins who wants to breast feed needs one.

- We started solids at six months and we’re making our own food. Much to my surprise, I LOVE making baby food. We get to start some new things in a few weeks and I can’t wait.

- I try not to refer to the Madeline and Emery as “the twins” all the time. I try not to obsess about it, but I want them to be individuals just as much as they are part of a unit.

If you don’t hear from me for a while, feel free to give me a “nudge” about posting. I do enjoy this and hope some of my readers enjoy reading it. I definitely have a LOT to say about a lot of things.