Friday, June 19, 2009

If It Ain't Broke...

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.


  1. You are so fortunate you've been able to pump enough for both of them. And now that Ned has learned to hold his own bottle it makes feeding 2 at once sooo much easier. I hope Sebastian and/or Collette can do the same. Then you can pump while they eat and you'll have even more free time! See, how's that for positive? I will say it took about a month for my BFing regrets to be gone and now I'm 100% okay with it. I know you'll get there too.

  2. Wow. Though some of the details (and the end results) are different from my own story, so much of this feels true/familiar to me. The time in the NICU that gets you off to such a rough start, the high-cal formula, the sleepy eaters. And, oh man, the feeling of failure. I was so determined to breastfeed, and so defiant of people who looked at me like I was crazy to consider breastfeeding twins. What a letdown (no pun intended). But it's definitely cathartic to write it out. Good for you.

  3. Thank you for this post. I have 5 month old GG twins and this could almost be my story exactly. I have made the failure of breastfeeding really hard on myself. Then I finally decided that pumping and feeding was working and for me it was the next best thing.

  4. I had a bit of a breakdown when the Dr had me stop breastfeeding and give Gemma formula. She didn't like it much at first so I basically quit and went back to breastfeeding. At our next Dr visit they again told me to stop. I told myself I would do a 48 hr trial. Gemma was so much happier with the formula. Although I still cried for a week I knew in my heart that I was doing whats best for her. So just keep reminding yourself that you did what you had to so your babies would be happy and healthy.

    You are an amazing mom =)

  5. Nicole~
    Your post strikes a chord with me, b/c, sniff sniff, I pumped for the last time this week. My 34w5d babes also were put on high cal, and b/c of their NICU stay, it was so hard to breastfeed more than once a day with their sleepiness, tiny mouths and gavage feeding tubes. Plus, like you, my BP was so high that I had to stay in the hospital for a week!

    I think you are doing a great job! You are most certainly not a failure. We set our expectations so high as to what life will be like once the twins are born. It's hard enough to map out your life with a singleton, let alone with twins. Yes, we will always have some sort of mommy guilt with each major decision/weaning period, but we wouldn't be mommies if we didn't worry about them! : )

  6. Nicole, **HUGS** I promise someday this won't matter so much. A good friend told me that you will be yourself again around their first birthday. that the first year is over there is so much I can honestly say: why was I even stressed about that?! You get the cards you are dealt and you did your best (and your best is a total success!). Let yourself off the hook!


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