Exclusively breastfed twins: fulfilling my mammal destiny

Most of you are familiar with my struggle to breastfeed my babies. Here’s a short recap:

10/24/11: twins born by c-section at 33w2d. I started pumping within a few hours of recovery and babies were tube fed my colostrum in the NICU.
11/20/11: after 4 weeks in NICU (breastfeeding 2x daily, bottle fed breastmilk 6x), we went home as a family. I began transitioning to more breastfeeding, less bottle feeding.
12/15ish/11: I freak out. Babies are nursing about once an hour. I can’t handle it. I think we have nipple preference. I contact my friend Mandy and we set breastfeeding goals (3 months – bare minimum, 6 months – good, 12 months – ideal). I think I can do this.
12/20ish/11: I want to throw in the towel. Jed tells me no, I can’t. He’s right. I commit to exclusive pumping if that is what it takes. I try to nurse each child once daily just to remind them where it comes from.
2/23/12: I discover, in a nursing support group, that I’m successful. I was not exclusively nursing or exclusively pumping, just some hybrid of the two. And it worked for us.

4/24/12: my babies are six months old. And exclusively breastfed.

Clara gets a bottle once every few days. Cormac gets one at night if I don’t want to nurse him at the time. I pump after “breakfast” and after “dinner” and have started replenishing my freezer stash as we use the last of the NICU milk. I can’t express how great this feels. I never thought that I would be at this point and actually breastfeeding.

I had committed to exclusive pumping as a way to ensure that they got breastmilk for as long as possible. My twins were early and they needed all the health benefits that I could possibly give them. Additionally, I didn’t realize how important breastfeeding/feeding breastmilk would be to me until I was doing it. It is like so much of who I am as a mother is wrapped up in breastfeeding. I jokingly call it “fulfilling my mammal destiny,” but somehow when I was faced with pumping or quitting it was no joke at all. I felt like a failure. And I wasn’t. I’m not. I did it. We did it. I am fulfilling my mammal destiny.

A few weeks ago I was nursing Clara all night every night and I decided that I was done with pumping. Cormac could learn to nurse full time too. Jed wasn’t sure that I was making the right decision. He said things like, “Cormac isn’t used to nursing right now. He wants a bottle.” And I get that. But I’d say in my savage, hard-headed mama way, “Cormac isn’t the only one in this relationship and I’m sick of washing bottles.”

And it worked! I went two full days with no bottles before I realized what had happened. It was liberating. I went to the grocery store with no bottles. I pumped once a day, not six times. I loved it.

I still love it. I nursed both babies a few days ago in public for the first time. Individually, but I never thought we would get there. I can’t express how awesome and how freeing this is. (I had committed to pumping for 12 months)

This was so important to me. Thinking about how much it means makes me cry a little (and I’m not a very weepy person). I have spent a good deal of time mourning my birth experience and recently realized that my breastfeeding experience has been truly exceptional. I’m providing the perfect food for two babies at once. It’s hard to top that for me.

The moral:
Twin moms, triplet moms, exclusive pumpers, moms struggling with breastfeeding or some combination of the two… You can absolutely do it.
People who say, “you’ve made it 3/4/6/12 months, now you can quit and start formula,” need to shut their pie holes. That’s a mom’s decision. She needs unwavering support. Formula companies do enough of their own marketing without your help.

I hope that our story helps someone struggling with any or all of the things we have faced. This is why we made it:
Jed is my rock. He’s supportive beyond my wildest dreams.
We are broke. We can’t afford formula, so it’s far from an “easy out.”
I’m hard headed as hell.
Mandy, Geneva, the LC’s at Pres women’s center, my mama, and everyone else who whispered a word of support my way made a difference. I needed it. You were there for me.

Thank you.

Next goal: 12 months.

Some incidentals:
Cormac now has teeth. He was a biter, then a biter with teeth. I had been firmly telling him no and ending the nursing session if he bit down, but once he had teeth and chomped on my nipple I screamed no and put him in his crib (yes, he was crying – I freaked him out) while I examined my poor sore boob. It was fine. He was fine. Offering him my breast for the next feeding was scary though. He didn’t bite it, thank goodness.
He hasn’t bit me in a few days now. I think we survived teething.

When two babies are going through a growth spurt/leap/craziness EBFing is HARD. Sleep? What sleep?

I have a twins nursing pillow that I highly recommend. It was a little too big for my petite frame and little bitty babies, but now that they are bigger, it’s awesome. It would also be great for any plus size mamas who think the boppy just doesn’t work for them. It’s called the Brest Friend twins plus and you can buy it here. It’s on sale right now!

 

 

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  1. Chelsea -  May 7, 2012 - 4:03 pm

    This is such an encouragement to me. My BF run down is: no latch, pumping, nipple shield, crack, yeast, trying remedy after remedy, LC after LC, milk blisters, more yeast, yeast, and yeast, and … no healing yet. Calling MW tomorrow for Diflucan. I play mind games with myself and time after time it has come down to “Am I commited to this?” And I decided long ago that I was. It’s moms like you that I come back to and it keeps me going! Thank you!

    • Jessica Murphy -  May 21, 2012 - 11:33 pm

      Some moms take to breastfeeding like a fish to water but for the rest of us, it’s hard work. Thanks for doing the best thing for your baby!!

    • Tricia -  May 22, 2012 - 8:20 am

      Chelsea-have you tried gentian violet for thrush? It’s a homeopathic remedy that lots of nursing mamas swear by. It’ll make your nurslings mouth purple, but it’s harmless. I highly recommend it!

  2. Wolf_Mommy -  May 21, 2012 - 11:37 pm

    LOVE your story! Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  3. The breastfeeding bond | The Mommy Dialogues -  August 19, 2012 - 1:00 pm

    […] My babies started life drinking from bottles. They breastfed after a few weeks, with the help of nipple shields. They were fed through an NG tube for a few weeks in the NICU. When we got home and I tried to progress to exclusive breastfeeding, things went down the drain. I committed to exclusive pumping with one or two nursing sessions a day–just to remind them where the food came from. You can read about that journey here. […]

  4. Amanda M S -  April 6, 2013 - 5:31 pm

    You’re awesome!!!!! Way to go!

    I love how you put it that 3 months could be bare minimum, 6 months good, 12 month ideal…. I think is good for people to realize small goals too. To me, 3 months doesn’t sound too long. But I’m sure once I got to 3 months than 6 months would be my next goal, than a year. For me to start off thinking 12 months is like whooooaaahhhhh. If I broke it down into small goals and hit them it would be less intimidating. 🙂

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