Breastfeeding Twins: Part 1 {PUMP!}


Disclaimer: if you're my little brother, my dad, or any other male relative please stop reading. I don't really care if you keep reading, just sayin' you will feel awkward. And if you treat me weird the next time I see you, it's your fault. Not mine. And I will require you to buy me a Bahama Bucks to make up for it. {Wedding Cake + Coconut Cream Pie w/ Chocolate Cream}. 

I knew from the time I knew I was pregnant with twins that breastfeeding was going to be a bit harder than it normally would be. It was really important to me, though, to at least give it an honest go. I do believe, however, that there are enough things that will cause guilt as a new mom, and I was not about to let breastfeeding be one of them. I feel really blessed to be able to breastfeed N&G. It has become a really sweet time for us, and you can't deny the bonding that occurs because of it. I would be lying, though, if I didn't say that some days my attitude is more along the lines of "if I have to pull my shirt up one more time....I'm gonna flip." It is taxing, it is stressful, it is wonderful. The best things are.

I have a beautiful friend, though, who gave breastfeeding an honest go in the hospital and it just wasn't for them. She formula feeds her little guy exclusively and she has no issues with it. I wish more women could have her attitude. We beat ourselves up all the time for things that are either out of our control, or really won't matter in 5 years. Breastfeeding works for us. Formula feeding works for her. Let's all be kind to each other. I normally don't censor my comments, but I refuse to allow the comments on this post/series become a "Breast is best!" bashing on formula or vice versa. To each her own. And as moms, let's all just lift each other up and be kind. There are plenty of other people who will try to tell us that we're not doing enough. We don't need to be one of them.

That being said, getting enough milk for the boys was HARD at first. I was on magnesium sulfate to lower my stroke threshold at the end of my pregnant. That stuff is nasty. It makes you hotter than you've ever been and so out of it. So the first night of my boys' life, I was completely oblivious to the fact that they might need to eat. I actually didn't even see them for the next 8 hours after I met them for the first time. I beat myself up over this for a while, but seriously? Not my fault. And we're all alive and doing well now, so what's the point? Anyhow, magnesium sulfate also delays your milk from coming in for a while. Considering I was super stable emotionally after having two babies, this was probably the worst thing that could've happened to me. And then my boys landed in the NICU. And I broke down.

I am a fighter, though. Literally. One of my husband's friends was over the other week and said these exact words, "Much as I think Kristin is just great, I would really hate to be the one to tick her off." And I like that. Cam calls me "fierce." And I am. And so, after the meltdown and I could wrap my head around things, I decided to do whatever I could to help my boys get out of the NICU. And so I pumped. I pumped for 20 mintues, 10 times a day. And in the middle of the first night the boys were in the NICU, I didn't get a single drop. And I walked across the hall to just peek at my boys and I sobbed into the shoulder of my nurse Julie, because I was hopeless. She just looked at me and said, "With all that your body has gone through, it doesn't surprise me one bit. You need some sleep. Let the boys take formula for the next feeding. Start pumping again tomorrow morning, but skip the rest of your middle of the night pumpings. You can try again tomorrow. This happens to lots of women."

I was exhausted. She was right. I still sobbed into my pillow until I fell asleep. The next morning, a nurse told me they had taken my blood twice and my blood pressure twice without me even waking up. I felt much better, and I pumped and pumped and pumped. I made myself lay back and relax while I pumped and not look at what was in the bottles. I covered up with a blanket if I couldn't resist the temptation. I watched videos of my boys. I flipped through pictures of their sweet faces. And I would come out with a few drops that would go straight into syringes. It was so hard not to get discouraged. I saw other NICU moms delivering full bottles of milk. Why wasn't I getting the same? I remember thinking "why do pumps come with such big bottles? No one ever fills those up."

That afternoon, my aunt Sheri came to see the boys. They were in the NICU and she couldn't hold them. It meant a lot to me that she knew that and came anyway. I love her. We started talking about my milk and how I really just wanted to do whatever it took to get it to come in. She told me about alfalfa supplements. And she mentioned how they were not for the faint of heart. And that her husband remembered about them because they made her boobs huge. [Uncle Mike is my favorite. Hilarious.] And that sometimes they turn your milk green. I said I was up for anything because the nurses said I was still probably 48 hours away from having my milk come in.

My mom went and bought me a bottle. I took 3 pills like it said on the back. I pumped 30 minutes later. And my milk had quadrupled. 4 pumpings later and I got a full 2 oz. bottle and then some! I was giddy! And the nurses in the NICU were so excited for me. I felt like an awesome mom, and all I was doing was hooking myself up to a machine every 2 hours. I had milk coming out my ears. I had filled the NICU fridge, and they reserved a shelf in the freezer for me. I had more than enough for all of my boys' feedings by the end of the 4th day the boys were there. They told me to keep some at home and stop bringing it in. And I decided to tone it down with the alfalfa. I couldn't handle it anymore. It worked instantly and very well.

The other thing that upped my supply in a major way was "power pumping." I pumped 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off for an hour. And I couldn't figure out why one side of my pump was leaking. I re-positioned it probably 4 or 5 times before I realized I was overflowing the bottle! That was a good day.

I had to pump before feeding the boys in the morning to avoid drowning them, so to speak.

I liked pumping while I was at home because it made me feel like I was still doing something to help my boys get out of the hospital. The mother across the way from me formula fed her little boy with a bright shock of blonde hair. She liked it because she didn't have to stress. There's enough to stress about when you have a new baby. If breastfeeding is a stress and not an empowering/comforting thing, my opinion is that it's not worth it. Those early days and weeks are so precious. They should be spent enjoying your new little one(s), guilt free.

Once the boys came home, I liked knowing I had enough to feed them. My body was so well regulated from pumping that 20 minutes before they were supposed to eat, my chest would fill up. I could trust my body better than the clock in the kitchen. I got a lot of comfort in that feeling, which is why it was really distressing for me when I no longer felt that. It happened when we moved to Arizona.

[For those of you who are curious, I have used both an Ameda Purely Yours and a Medela Pump in Style. I got about 2oz. more with the Ameda Purely Yours. I bought mine for $40 used on KSL {like craigslist in Utah}. I boiled all the parts and had no issues. It works great! I love it. And it was life-saving in getting my milk back after the move.]

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