It's so different with two than 'just' one...
I have yet another cold, and after several days of it, it has decided to get even worse today. I’m SO frustrated with all the sickness we’ve had in this house (and our last house shortly before our move!) This year so far, I feel like we’ve been sick more than we’ve been healthy. I’m pretty sure Andrew’s been picking up colds at his gym class each week that he goes, and I always end up getting whatever it is because I’m so run-down. This time the girls got it, too, which is NOT fun at all! They’re not super fussy from it but I know it’s bothering them, and I hate knowing they’re dealing with colds without at least understanding what’s going on (or being able to blow their noses!)
As part of my cycle, my breast milk took a nosedive about a week ago, and I’ve had no luck bringing it back to a level I’m not stressed about. It’s there when the babies do go for it, but the truth is, they haven’t really wanted to nurse. I’m pretty sure it’s a combination of having to work harder to get it because let-down takes probably 20-30 seconds to happen for me these days, whereas the bottle is instant, and the fact that their noses are stuffed up so it’s harder for them to breathe having their little noses smashed up against my breast!
I feel really torn about the whole thing, and sad, and guilty. I don’t want to not give them the very best, and I do believe ‘breast is best.’ But at the same time, I’m starting to feel that it’s NOT the best when it’s totally stressing me out, causing me to obsess over it (in a negative way), and making me literally lose sleep because I have to pump milk and not sleep for longer than a set period of time in order to keep any amount of supply whatsoever. Just the mere THOUGHT of having to pump milk actually stresses me out – and talking to other moms of multiples in a similar position to mine, I know I am not alone in feeling this way.
If the babies absolutely loved to nurse and I could easily sit down with them and latch them on and breast feed without feeling stressed out, that would be awesome. I had planned on nursing them for their first year – not going to a year and a half like I did with Andrew, but at least the first year. Now we’re at a little over 5 months and in all honesty, I am pretty sure we’re not going to make it another week, let alone till even 6 months! I just don’t know if I have it in me (literally, in fact!!) My milk supply is dwindling, and even if I wanted to pump (which I don’t), I generally have a hard time finding the time to be able to during the day. One or more kids is always needing me for something, so to go plug myself into a machine for 15 minutes just isn’t feasible. And if I DID have 15 minutes to spare, wouldn’t it be lovely for me to be able to go sip a cup of tea and flip through a magazine (not that I read magazines, because I don’t, but you catch my drift!) It annoys me that the tiny amount of ‘spare time’ I might find in a day is used up pumping enough ounces for half a feeding! I used to EASILY fill 2 bottles, 4-5oz per side within less than 10 minutes. Now, I’ll go for 15 minutes and be lucky to get 3oz, total. IT’S STRESSING ME OUT!! Like, crazy stress! I spend WAY to much time thinking about it, worrying about it, feeling bad about it.
The thing is, the girls don’t nurse the way Andrew did, and I don’t know if it’s just the way they are, me being different, or the fact that there’s 2 of them so we have a different system going than with a singleton. I had such an EASY time nursing Andrew, he co-slept with us and nursed all night if he wanted to and that worked for us. The babies have never co-slept with us because there’s 2 of them and the logistics just make it seem impossible. Plus we don’t really want the same ‘sleep issues’ as we had with Andrew of co-sleeping till age 3!! It’s different this time around. It’s more complicated with twins. I am totally confident if I’d had one baby, I would be nursing with ease, and like with Andrew, only using the one-side-at-a-time hand-held pump on the rare occasion I was going out somewhere without him. He never had formula, whereas the girls had to have it within minutes of being born because they were so tiny. I think I did pretty well basically exclusively giving breast milk for the first 3.5 months-ish. But now it’s just not going well, and I feel like maybe in a way they are sort of self-weaning because they just don’t seem to show a difference between breast or bottle. (Or, I guess I should say, they both show signs of preferring the bottle! And I KNOW that it’s because it’s easier and the way around it is to nurse around the clock and not offer bottles at all, but the truth of the matter is I would be in a loonie bin if I did that because I can’t be more sleep deprived than I already am, thank you very much, and giving a bottle means James can feed them so I can rest – and I’m not willing to give that up!!!)
Feeding twins isn’t the same bonding experience all the time as what nursing one baby is. Tandem nursing worked for me for a time, but it got to the point where one baby would just be jacking around and then the other baby would become unlatched and it would frustrate me AND the babies. I tried to tandem feed them the other day and got them set up on the twin nursing pillow, sitting up properly on the couch, but then Margaret started pushing her legs against the couch cushion like she was going to send herself off into outer space, and Emily just cried and looked at me like, for chrissakes Mommy, just give me a bottle and be done with it! If I give them a bottle, they are calm and happy…
The thing is, sometimes (often) I want to feed them at the same time, as ideally they stay on the same schedule. They tend to fairly rarely nap at the same time throughout the day so I literally never have a break it seems, and given I have almost no help whatsoever through the week, I have to do what I can to at least get them on as much of the same schedule as I can! Even if they’re not both sleeping, if they’ve both got full bellies at the same time they’re likely to be content, so I can rush around and get done what needs doing while they hang out on their blanket or in their exersaucers or whatever. (They are really starting to love the exersaucers, which is AWESOME, and of course the Jolly Jumper!) So it’s not the same bonding experience feeding them sometimes, because with one you just have that one on one cuddle time, whereas with two I have them both to focus on and it’s just different. Of course, there are times when they are fed separately, or when Margaret nurses and Emily has a bottle (which has been the case several times in the past few days, the very FEW times when any nursing has been happening at all…) This afternoon I gave Emily a bottle while Margaret snoozed in their swing, and we had a wonderful time cuddling and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on the bonding experience because the milk was actually formula in a bottle and had nothing to do with my breasts whatsoever. So why get so bent out of shape about it, right?!
But I do, and I think mainly because of what other people think and will say and will judge. But I know deep down that it’s not up to them what I choose to do, and if they think I should be doing more to up my supply (I don’t know what more I could do – I drink a ton of water, I take fenugreek, blessed thistle, brewer’s yeast, a prenatal vitamin, pump…) that’s their problem. I wish I was one of those women who could have a hundred kids and nurse them all and still look and feel amazing. I also wish I could push a button and dinner would magically appear on the table. It’s just not a realistic expectation!
So while I still waver in certain moments wondering if I’m doing the right thing – and I know I’ll have Mommy’s guilt when I’ve completely dried up and there’s no turning back – I do believe that weaning the babies entirely (which won’t take long, obviously!) is ultimately going to be healthy for me to do. I can stop thinking about it once and for all, and just feed the babies the formula. I can prepare enough bottles at night to get us through the next day and not think so much about it. I think it will put my mind at ease in a big way, actually. I’m just so tired SO TIRED IN GENERAL and so tired of worrying about this. It dawned on me how much time I am WASTING worrying and struggling to breast feed when I’m not actually enjoying it, and the time spent on all of the stress could be time better spent actually ENJOYING the babies!
It’s crazy to me that this is how it’s going, but what can I say, my experience with twins is so much different than with one…and that’s just the way it is.