I've always believed that life was as hard as you make it. To be sure, people get dealt raw deals but in general, I think we have a lot of control over our lives. With that in mind, I feel many people make their lives more difficult than they need to be. I always wondered why people do this, until I found myself doing that very same thing.
A few months ago, my emotions got the better of me. I was still upset about not breastfeeding that I figured I would try, just one last time, to make it work. I had been stressing about it for so long, pretty much since the day the twins came home from the hospital. They had been in the Special Care Nursery for nearly 2 weeks, but it seemed like an eternity. And the only thing keeping them there was eating. Well, not eating, really.
Their prematurity (34 weekers) didn't have any huge "health" impacts on them when they were born but they were small and tired and didn't really know how to suck and eat. My C-section kept me in the hospital for 4 days but then I had to go home. I had been "nursing" them at almost every feeding and some days we had a bit of success and other times we didn't. But when I went home, I could only go to the hospital once a day for a few hours because my blood pressure was still quite high and I was basically on bed rest. That left very little opportunity to breastfeed - at most, 2 feedings per day. And usually we just tried once because we didn't want to wear them out.
The last few days they were in the hospital, we had a lot of success with the breastfeeding. But still, the lactation consultant said in the first week at home we should still just do it once a day, since that is what they were used to. And then work our way up from there. I think that was the beginning of the end for us. When your babies have only been alive for 11 days, a week seems like an eternity! I had no idea what to make of that advice. Do I do it twice a day for the second week? Or do I just do it all the time after that? There was no road map for transitioning to all breastfeeding.
The second blow came when we had our first visit with the pediatrician. The babies had been eating pumped breast milk with high calorie formula powder added to bulk them up. Now, it doesn't take a genius to realize that if they need these extra calories, then breastfeeding isn't really an option. It's not like I can inject my breasts with formula powder. So, I was hoping that she would say we could stop the extra calories or at least cut back. No such luck. I was crushed. How would I ever do this if I had to keep giving them these extra calories??
And that's how we ended up here. I'm pumping exclusively for my twins. A while back, I tried to get them back on the breast. And I did, sort of. I bought the nipple shields which make real nipples more like bottle nipples. The babies sometimes accepted it, other times not so much. But I was a day late and a dollar short, so to speak. They were already 4 months old. I was on my own with them for the better part of the week. I had already established a very smooth routine around pumping and feeding and, with the exception of my lingering guilt/sadness/longing, everyone was happy. And when you are outnumbered by infants, changing your routine (especially one that is working!) is beyond difficult.
It's obvious to me why I tried to make my life so much more difficult. I felt like a failure. Scratch that: I feel like a failure. And for those of you who know me, you know I don't fail. I ace tests, I get into the best schools, I get job offers. Heck, I even get boy/girl twins! But I can't breastfeed. I fail.
And the guilt and disappointment in myself is what propelled me to try and recapture my goal, even though everything was going so well. And that was stupid. It's not like me to make my life harder than it needs to be. But I simply could not reconcile those feelings. I have since given up on that goal and realized the error of my ways. That certainly doesn't mean I am over all these emotions - it just means I have decided to not let them interfere with our daily life as I had been. Our life is good, the twins are so happy and healthy - there is no reason to screw around with a good thing. If it ain't broke, don't fix it! I can put this in the "lessons learned the hard way" column.
Whew. I feel better now. Thanks.