as you may know, the twins spent time in the NICU after birth (9 days for henry & 14 for delilah). during that time i began pumping so i could establish a steady milk supply. in order to help the babies gain weight, the breast milk i brought to the hospital each day had to be fortified with formula (think of it like baby protein powder). to be honest, the fact that they were introduced to formula from the beginning took a little pressure off of me to produce enough milk to feed not one but TWO babies.
on one of our first visits to the NICU, we saw a lactation specialist who assisted us in helping the twins latch. henry took to it right away but at under 4lbs, sweet D had a bit more of a struggle. by the time she made a connection and took a couple sucks, she exerted so much energy that she’d fall right asleep.
once henry was discharged and we were able to take him home, we continued to try breastfeeding at almost every feeding. With D still at the NICU getting a few more days of extra attention, i was able to focus on just hen. i know everyone says breastfeeding is this magical thing and maybe for you it was/is. but for us, it wasn’t quite rainbows and butterflies. it was awkward and messy and exhausting -for me but especially for henry. and i still had to pump after each session to not only empty the excess but to ensure we had additional milk to fortify with formula since we had specific consumption goals we had to meet each day. and this was just one baby! what were we to do once delilah got home? well we found out five days later when she was finally able to join us from the NICU.
i tried my best for those next few days of having both babies home to breastfeed the twins consecutively every three hours (i never tried the tandem method). we’d feed for 15-20 minutes, finish with a fortified bottle, and then i’d retire to my pumping station for another 20 minutes to make sure i drained the remaining milk to avoid engorgement (and prevent mastitis, which I ended up battling once anyway). when I say i felt like the family cow, i’m not exaggerating…
at some point i just remember feeling defeated. i was already exhausted from not sleeping but the pressure to continue doing something that frankly my children didn’t seem to love anyway felt like a 500 pound gorilla on my back. so I made the decision to stop breastfeeding and simply focus on pumping. who cared if the twins were getting my milk directly from the source or from a bottle? at least if it was from a bottle, shawn could help, too! don’t get me wrong, pumping was still a full time job (i think in those first few weeks i pumped 8x a day), but it was so much more manageable. and for that reason, i powered it out for another 11 months, a milestone i’m extremely proud to have accomplished (cheers to you, chi chis!).
looking back now i don’t remember having too many expectations about breastfeeding. despite being extremely type A, it was one area where i simply didn’t care to have a plan. once we learned that the babies would have to spend time in the NICU, all that mattered to me was doing whatever we needed to get them home. and ultimately that meant fortifying my milk with formula and bottle feeding > breastfeeding.
did i feel a little judged sometimes when i’d tell people i was exclusively pumping vs. nursing? i’d be lying if i said i didn’t. but i knew our decision was what was best for US.
and i wish we could all cut each other some slack sometimes. i never knew how hard motherhood was until i became a mom myself. there are books and google and the advice of family and friends, but until you’re in it, you really can’t understand. we’re all just trying to do the best we can. for some of us that means breastfeeding, some, pumping, and others formula! can we all just agree that FED IS BEST?
at the end of the day, however you choose to feed your baby/babies should be your decision and yours alone. always remember that you are the best person to take care of your humans. and even when it doesn’t always feel like it, you’re doing an amazing job.0