There was an error in this gadget

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Breastfeeding Twins -- In the Beginning

The first two
To be honest, it was not as hard as I expected.  I nursed my other two until 11 months, and experience was a big factor in helping me to know that I could succeed. I was nervous while pregnant, not sure how it would work. I had 3 different twin breastfeeding pillows, not sure which would help the most. I read every blog, pamphlet, and book I got my hands on.  I thought I wouldn't get any sleep, or I'd be too busy nursing to care for my 3 and 5 year old. But once the babies came, it was really much easier than I anticipated and came very naturally to the 3 of us.

We had a great delivery, both born vaginally at 37 weeks 1 day via induction (I was BEYOND ready. I couldn't move, breathe, sit, stand, bend, hurry, sleep--you get the idea), 8 minutes apart. I had my epidural (thank you God) and didn't feel much. When baby A (Jackson) came out (6lbs 9oz), we were all pretty flustered with excitement,  but soon got focused on Baby B (Lincoln), who upon Jackson's exit decided to flip around, never before had he experienced so much room in the womb. My fantastic OB, skilled at this sort of thing, simply said, "Ok, he's I'm going to do something you don't see very often..." She reached inside me, grabbed Lincoln by his little legs,and eased him out, feet and butt first. Very strange to see his legs and butt outside of my body, but not his torso or head. It was a scene fit for a SCI-FI alien movie. Just a few minutes later, and Baby B was with us. I don't remember much (no drugs, just horrible mommy memory. See Ryan for details) but they were both healthy and we immediately went to a room together, where I soon started the nursing journey with twins. We were clear with the nurses that we would be exclusively bf-ing.  Jackson latched on well, but Lincoln I felt was more easily frustrated and I couldn't tell if he was getting any colostrum. I mentioned my concern to the nurse (big mistake), who promptly suggested I give him formula to supplement. "That way we can guarantee he's eating"...she says. "The lactation consultant who comes tomorrow will suggest the same thing"...she says. This upset me, because I really wanted supportive, adamant people around me, telling me I could DO THIS. Ryan was enough to sway me...we would not give Lincoln the formula, we'd just see how he fared in the night. 

Thankfully we stuck to our guns. They were nursing champs, I just needed to give Lincoln a chance. Mommies, if you are in this situation please don't be discouraged at the first, second, third, or even fourth trial with breastfeeding! Over the course of their first year, I had tons of issues, and I still was able to stick it out.  If you have your mind set up that you want to try breastfeeding, then give it a REAL chance. Don't let others with different experiences try to sway you. Talk to a lactation consultant (good to know of one before baby arrives) about your concerns, not just some schmo who feels they know more about your baby or your boobs than you do. 

When we got home 2 days later, the pain started to set in. For me, this was typical of my bf experience. The nipples take about 7-10 days to "toughen up", but with some Lanolin and a great determination to get through it, the pain subsides and breastfeeding becomes the beautiful experience we all want. 
HOWEVER. When breastfeeding infant twins, there is very little downtime in between feedings, therefore the nipple cracks and fissures took what felt like twice as long to heal. When I fed them in the beginning, I experienced incredible pain. These boys were GREAT nursers, they sucked so hard they would empty the breast in minutes.  But with great suckers, come great scabs. The scabs could not heal quickly because the next baby was ready to eat, and just a bit later the other was hungry again. My toes clenched, my teeth clenched, and as I furiously tapped my hand onto the closest object, I'd count the seconds it took before my nipple went totally numb with the pain. After they'd unlatch, the pain would set in again, the temperature of the room would cause my nipples to contract, sending me into another bout of torture. 

Still, we stuck to it. The pain did eventually go away (I can't remember, maybe 15-16 days of that?) and I was suuuuper proud to tell people I was breastfeeding them exclusively. Most often in the beginning I would cradle hold them or lay beside them and feed one at a time. This was my favorite because I could fall asleep at night.  But as their neck muscles strengthened, we were able to double feed using the football hold. I'd put pillows on either side of me, and get both babies within arms reach on the bed. Then I'd latch Jackson on first (he seemed to be able to hold the latch better while I got L set up). I'd pull Lincoln on the other side, and voila. Double breastfeeding. Time saver? Yes. Mom ego booster? Yes. Proud enough to take a picture of them while double nursing? Yep--But that's not for this blog. In the moment, I sent the pic to my sister (who is also a bf mom) in a text, who wrote back along the lines of "Wow crazy! But now delete this, and don't ever text me pics of your boobs again".  Sorry about that Brandi. Lesson learned. No one wants to see that but me and my proud husband who took to calling me Wonder Woman after I sent him the same text. Was double feeding easier than one at a time? Heck no. Unless we were late to go somewhere, I would always opt for single servings. 

When they were about 3 months old, I tried to give them a bottle of formula, to see if they'd take it and allow for Ryan and I to have a date--No good. Jackson was semi interested, but Lincoln hated it. He would struggle with the bottle nipple, then he actually vomited after he took some down. I then discovered that formula can expire (sorry, very little experience with formula) and the formula in question was a few days expired...but Jackson didn't get sick so we weren't sure.  After buying 1 can of NEW formula, different brand, same thing happened. Jackson took a few sips, but Lincoln ended up vomiting. 
So the date nights had to wait. If I wanted alone time for more than 2 hours, I'd have to pump (the pump and me, not always compadres).  

So there you have it. With the babies' cribs in our bedroom, my night became a blur of bringing the 1st baby to cry to the bed, pass out immediately while he nursed, hear the second baby later, bring him to the bed, squeeze in between Ryan and the first baby , nurse baby #2, and immediately fall asleep again. Ryan was squished to a sliver of the bed, and I just flopped left and right all night long. The babies and I nursed, and nursed, and nursed. I didn't know if they were hungry or not. I didn't know who was who, who was crying or why. I just nursed--and it was the magical mute button. I got fragmented sleep all night, but it was still sleep. I'd breastfeed them at the slightest meow they'd make, and Ryan for the most part slept on. If both babies tag teamed me, crying at the same time, Ryan would hold one until the other passed out from nursing (5-6 nursers).  Sometimes they needed a diaper, but most times, they wanted the liquid gold.  

I know everyone has their own breastfeeding experience, but I felt since breastfeeding twins varies slightly from breastfeeding one baby, I wanted to share with other interested moms and dads about the process we went through.  I wanted to record what I could remember from the early months of their lives, now a year ago, and to encourage others (or scare others--whatever your perspective).  We made adjustments and had setbacks later into the year, but that's another story, for another post. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow, so inspiring!! Your husband is right...Wonder Woman!!