Matt: How's things at home, mama?
Me: I'm twins-whipped
Me: I'm their bitch
Matt: Yeah you are
Matt: You're their milk bitch
Matt: They're laying there like,"Wow, this whole pooping thing feels weird"
Matt: Then all of a sudden they think "HEY! Where's that milk bitch?!"
Me: Now imagine that times two and you've got it perfectly
Breastfeeding is exhausting.
Pumping milk every 2 - 3 hours and feeding it to your twins back to back every 3 hours is exhausting.
Yesterday I brought up my frustration about pumping to Mark. I'd been secretly wanting to quit for weeks because I've felt pretty much done, but I'd been keeping it from him. I thought that he would be majorly disappointed if I decided to quit or, worse, a bit put out by the amount of money we've spent on the pump and it's supplies. Instead, he said that he'd been thinking that maybe I should quit also. He could see that it was taking an emotional and physical toll on me.
The life that I've been living is not what I'd envisioned when I made the commitment to give my babies breastmilk. Their prematurity and the NICU time pretty much changed the initial gameplan, but I was willing to still work through it. I'd read so many accounts of people who successfully nursed their twins after the NICU and who made it work out. It took time, perseverance, patience. I was okay with the idea of supplementing with formula — a necessity since I wasn't making enough — and not at all bothered by the thought that I would pretty much have to wear both babies full time for a while until they got the hang of things.
Two weeks later, I'm still stuck and resentful. Instead of being able to make it work, to freely feed a baby any time, I pump. I go through what is now an exhausting, stressful, major time suck every few hours in order to give my babies milk.
I realized that I'd been feeling like I never got to hold or enjoy my babies because I was always too busy rushing to pump or fill their bottles or feed them. I wasn't getting to lovingly look into their eyes like the books say you should. To take that "It's just you and me, kid" moment and talk to him/her while feeding. Instead, I'd been too busy looking at the clock, wondering if I could get my next pump in before the other's fussing would turn to wailing. Or stressing about the fact that only five of their eight feeds would be breastmilk because I wasn't producing enough.
But every time I ventured to the "I need to fucking quit doing this or I'll lose my mind" point, one or both of us would say, "It's the best thing for the babies" or "Formula for two is gonna be expensive..." and I would be talked off the ledge. Until the next time when I realized I needed to feed two hungry and fussy babies at the exact same time because they'd synched up their hunger yet again despite our best efforts to keep them a half hour apart — AND — I needed to pump since it had been far too long since my last session and my boobs were starting to hurt and leak real bad.
The most frustrating thing has been that my milk supply has been steadily decreasing since the twins came home. I can hazard several guesses as to why this might be happening — missed pumps, using a good quality but NOT hospital grade breastpump, not pumping until empty because I've had to cut the session short to soothe a child, clogged ducts, blocked pores. All of this has been happening in the face of my efforts to increase my milk production.
So I've been working twice as hard to make more milk and instead barely have enough. Now, I'm pretty sure that I make enough milk to feed one baby pretty well. And if I had just one baby, I'd be managing a lot better since I would have time to actually let the child nurse. My supply would be managed by said baby and I'd be able to pump to get extra. And that was my gameplan. To get one baby to nurse and eventually get both on board.
Of course, that's not at all how it's worked out. Aden doesn't care for real nipples right now. My boob in his face doesn't interest him — imagine that! — since, compared to the bottle, it's too hard to get milk out. And to be honest, we didn't want to stress him or cause him to lose weight. So I've only latched him on once or twice and pretty much gone straight for the bottle when I saw that he was getting frustrated. The no-brainer, then, was to get Hunter to feed first since she has fewer issues.
I have successfully latched Hunter on several times and she's actually taken a full meal at the breast. But the few times I've fed her she's taken over an hour to eat and get full. And that was well after we'd gotten her settled and worked through her fussiness.
So what's the problem? The problem is that I'm not Shiva, Quan Yin or some other multi-armed deity. I have to hold my baby at the breast. Heck, I have to hold the fucking breast. I have to support a floppy head on its seemingly useless neck to bottlefeed. So I can't feed Aden a bottle at the same time that I'm trying to feed Hunter from the breast. And Aden will not wait an hour to eat. Maybe ten minutes, maybe fifteen tops. But taking Hunter off the breast before she was done led to tears and shrieking.
God, those shrieks.
And even if I could, somehow, get them an hour apart, I'd still need something to feed Aden with. Even if I wore Hunter 24/7 as I tried one day — it lasted about three hours — I would still need to pump breastmilk for Aden. It looks deceptively simple on the surface, until you start trying to do it. And you wind up with hungry, angry babies.
And, trust me, when you have two babies starting to wail their little heads off, you will opt for the simplest solution.
To pump. And bottlefeed. Until you are sick of it all or can figure something else out.
I'll bring back the lightheartedness in a few days when I talk about Fisher Price's Rainforest gear. Right now, I gotta go pump.