We took the twins in for their first pediatric appointment last Wednesday and then for a growth check this Monday. Things are looking good for the Hatchet Twins!
At the hospital, they were born at 6 lb 12 oz for Logan and then 6 lb 14 oz for Emma. Over the course of their 4 day stay, while I was swimming in colostrum but not yet milk (until the 3rd day) they dropped weight rapidly. The ped got upset when Logan lost his 12 oz and said it was time to start supplementing. They also began showing signs of jaundice. Solution to jaundice? Supplement.
Or produce more milk.
There, you see, is the problem. The breasts never received the telegram from the uterus that there were two on board, so there wasn't enough milk for two. Nice going, breasts! You're so fired!
We started off with donor milk while at the hospital and pulled their weights up to 6 lb 3 oz and 6 lb 5 oz before we left. This included several crying jags over feeling worthless, betrayed by a body part, being in searing pain and sitting through 1.5 hour long nursing sessions in order to get more milk in faster. We went home with 8 oz of donor milk that were gone by the end of Monday night. The next day, Eric went out and bought formula since there still wasn't enough milk for two. One and a half, maybe, but not two.
By Wednesday I was (Surprise!) an emotional and physical wreck. Every time the twins would latch on to nurse, my body would dump adrenaline into my system in response to the pain. Somehow I don't think this was assisting my milk let down reflex. I can't quite get them to open really wide and this after talking to 3 or 4 different lactation consultants who seemed to see nothing wrong while I was in the hospital. So it's probably just the break in period. At the pediatrician's, the twins weighed in at 6 lb 8 oz each. Hurray! The ped told me I had 2 weeks to have them return to their birth weight and not to tear myself apart doing it faster.
Then she took a good look at me, sat down and gave me The Chat. I think she may have saved my life, if not just my sanity and breast tissue.
She suggested a moderate position on breastfeeding. Feed each baby for 30 minutes on "their" breast (switching up once a day so no one develops side preferences) and then if they're still hungry, supplement. The breast tissue will produce more milk through the regular emptying and filling than it will through 1.5 hour marathon sessions. Also, those sessions serve to tire out the babies, since nursing takes work on the part of the infants. It would also help my breasts to recuperate. The twins, you see, have sucked the chrome off my bumpers and it's Pain City around here.
Am I informed about breastfeeding? Yes, yes I am. And I'm here to tell you that breastfeeding twins is not like feeding a singleton, only "more so".
With a singleton, you have a recovery period while they (presumably) sleep in between nursing sessions. You can also split the nursing between both breasts - 15 (20? 30?) minutes on one, then 15 on the other. I don't have that luxury. Two breasts, two nursing, full term, full sized twins means each one has to get their own breast. This also means that until I get them to stop biting me and can nurse tandem, that my nursing sessions drag out longer and I get even less of the down time (and sleep!) between sessions than you do with only one child.
I nursed Caitlin for 13 months, after which she was over it and we bid our nursing days a fond farewell. It wasn't without its measure of pain and suffering, blocked ducts, swelling and engorgement. Oh and an attempted mutiny at 5.5 months because I was back at work and bottles were so much easier than nursing. She expected me to pump and fill bottles for her instead of nursing directly. We fought it out over a weekend and I triumphed: back to nursing and off bottles for the time being.
What I noticed in the very beginning of our nursing career was this: 3 days of suffering, waiting for my milk to come in while Caitlin cried with hunger and chewed me up. Finally, my milk came in with a vengeance and there was milk everywhere. The breasts didn't know how much to produce, so they were set to Firehose for Caitlin.
Six years later, they still don't know how much to produce, but the Firehose setting for one isn't enough for two. I'm supplementing about 3 out of 12 feedings for each twin (Yes, that does mean 24 total feedings a day.) and this will continue until my breasts finally catch up and get with the program. Yes, I am pissed off that my body that worked so hard to produce two healthy babies would let me down in the milk production department.
And the guilt? The guilt sucks.
Let me try to put it differently for you. You know what cutting is, right? Well, after following that link, you do now!
I cut myself every day, because I feel like I'm a bad mother.
I cut myself every day, on the breasts, because I feel like I'm a bad mother.
I cut myself every day, 24 times a day, on the nipples, because I feel like I'm a bad mother.
I cut myself every day, 24 times a day, on the nipples, with a grater, because I feel like I'm a bad mother.
This is what we do to ourselves and call it breastfeeding. All of the literature tells you that it doesn't hurt if "you're doing it right". I dare you to then find anyone who has ever done it correctly, right off the bat. Nipples are made of very sensitive material and they've never worked a hard day in their lives until suddenly a newborn is let loose on them. If you somehow think that won't hurt, you're smoking something the rest of us probably want. After several weeks it will get better. I know it will - it did last time and does to everyone that can persevere long enough to make it past the breaking point.
Err...break in period. Roughly 6 weeks, if I remember correctly. However, it's the longest 6 weeks you'll ever spend thinking about one body part and wondering whether you're going insane or not. You're doing it for the good of your child(ren), but that doesn't mean it makes it any easier to get through.
Suddenly puts formula use into perspective, doesn't it?
Not everyone can breastfeed. Not everyone wants to. Not everyone should have to, either.
We are, all of us, individuals. Some of us want to have kids, some don't. Some find it easy to get pregnant, some don't. Some find it easy to give birth vaginally and without drugs and some don't. This being the case, if we can agree that those statements are true, why can't we also accept that not everyone can breastfeed? Sometimes it's because of lack of information, lack of desire, fear of pain, the need for prescription drugs, illness, lack of milk production, etc. Any way you look at it, those women that aren't breastfeeding? They have their reasons and those reasons are their own.
Formula is a tool. Right now, it's a tool that I'm using.
If you have twins, let me know how you did it. Did you breastfeed? Did you supplement? How long did you go and do you have any advice on making it through the first 6 weeks?
Oh and in case you're wondering, at yesterday's doctor appointment, the twins were past their birth weights as of Day 12: Logan at 6 lb 15 oz, Emma at 7 lb 3 oz. Things are getting better. Each day it hurts a little less. Each day I produce a little more milk. Each day the twins open their piranha mouths a little wider. Each day we seem to use a little less formula. Each day the twins get a little cuter and plumper.
I'm taking it one day at a time.
But I still want to log a grievance with Mother Nature.
So if you are planning on nursing, I recommend you take a class or two and get a good book on the topic and try to take it easy on yourself.