In a perfect world, how easy it would be
Breastfeeding twins has proven to be quite challenging. I didn’t find it challenging whatsoever nursing Andrew…he basically latched on within minutes of being born and the rest is history. If anything I had too much milk, there was never any concern that it wouldn’t be enough for him. And I certainly have enough milk for one baby this time around, but it’s not easy providing for two.
I have enough supply that if all I did was nurse around the clock, I am pretty sure both girls would be getting what they need. But I don’t have that same luxury of just sitting around nursing 24/7 this time around, the way I did when it was just Andrew. I also don’t have time to pump after every single nursing session in order to keep my supply as high as possible. I’m also waaaaaay more tired this time around than I was when I only had one child, for obvious reasons (though at that time I didn’t think it could be possible to be more tired than I was then, oh how silly of me!!)
It got to the point a few weeks ago and leading up to a few days ago where I was so completely obsessed with my milk supply that it was causing me GREAT anxiety. I liken it to people who obsess over their weight and are constantly scrutinizing the scale. It can lead to serious psychological issues when the numbers aren’t what the person wants them to be. It was the same for me with pumping. When I first started out after the twins were born, I could easily pump 4oz on each side in less than 10 minutes. A few weeks ago it started getting where I was pumping one oz on one side and two or 3 on the other, or just a few on each side…Sometimes hardly anything at all, occasionally (but very rarely) full bottles. I just never knew, but it became evident that it was less than in the beginning.
I’ve been told that around 3-4 months there is a hormone change in the mother and therefore milk production can take a bit of a nosedive. It is possible to build it back up, but there’s no guarantee, and of course it takes work.
I found the more I watched the milk levels against the lines on the bottles, the more insane my mind felt. I was losing it, I’m not even kidding. I would dread even LOOKING at the pump, let alone knowing I actually had to USE it. I eventually decided to limit the pumping to 3 times per day, and that seemed to help me psychologically for a few days, but I was still feeling blah about the whole thing. About 5 days ago I decided to stop pumping altogether and see how that went. I have pumped 3 times in the past 5 days, and I have to say that I do feel so much better with regards to the nursing/formula feeding issue.
I hate the fact that the babies have formula at all, particularly due to it not being vegetarian. It just kills me. Andrew is 100% vegetarian born and so-far raised, and I think that’s totally awesome! The girls had to have formula within the first few hours of their lives due to their size and low blood sugar. I know it’s not the same as handing them a steak to gnaw on (which I’d never do!) but still…it just bothers me. BUT at the same time, it’s not the end of the world, and I know that ultimately they will still be raised vegetarian, so I’m not getting too worked up about that particular issue.
I was able to pretty much exclusively breast feed/bottle feed with breast milk for the first 3-3.5 months. In that time they had very little formula to speak of. Then I don’t know what happened…I think it was the combo of complete exhaustion (which can affect supply in and of itself), the babies needing to eat higher quantities, and my desire to have SOME time to myself, which meant other people feeding the babies for me sometimes, and I couldn’t always pump enough for those occasions.
For a while I was feeling REALLY negative about breast feeding less and formula feeding more. I felt torn because the convenience factor of mixing formula and having it on the ready each day put my mind at ease, but at the same time it made me crazy because I knew I wanted to be nursing exclusively. In a perfect world, right?
Now the way I’m looking at it is that I am doing the very best that I can. The past several days I’ve done a good job of always offering the breast first, nursing more often, and if they need a top up afterwards or just really don’t want to latch, I give them a bottle. Not a big deal. I’m probably nursing 75%, formula feeding 25%. That’s pretty amazing considering I’m feeding two. Which isn’t to say I’m looking for praise, because I’m certainly not, but I have to remind myself that where a lot of women struggle to feed just ONE baby with breast milk exclusively, I’ve been trying to feed TWO! Why would I even think for one second it should be ‘easy’?! I can’t beat myself up about this anymore. What will be, will be. My milk supply may not be exactly what it was in the beginning, but it’s not gone, either. And like I said, I am doing the best I can, there’s nothing more I can do. Especially if I want to keep even one ounce of sanity (no pun intended, everything seems to be in ounces these days!)
The babies are starting to try some solids now, which might help with filling them up as well. We got their high chairs last week and they have since tried some organic infant oatmeal cereal, which wasn’t really well received but it was their very first try so they might like it as they get used to some texture. Two nights ago we sat at the table all together as a family for the first time and they tried pureed sweet potatoes. Emily tolerated it but Margaret seemed to love it! I actually had to take some from Emily’s bowl to give her more! Of course they both spit a fair bit of it out since they’re still adjusting to anything different from milk, but I thought they did amazing with it. Last night Emily tasted pickle and seemed to like it, and she also sucked on an orange slice and didn’t mind it (whereas Margaret seemed grossed out by it right away!) They have also both tried the tiniest spoonful of yogurt and didn’t really react either way.
I’d be lying if I said the whole breast feeding thing wasn’t still a source of stress for me, but I’m doing my best to let go and just ‘go with the flow’ – haha. This is just a blip in our lives, and obviously my girls are going to be fed no matter what, and that’s the main thing. It’s just one of the many challenges faced with having more than one baby at a time…It’s incredible, but it’s double duty all the way!