Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I can't even begin to describe the first week at home after we left the hospital. No really, I can't. It was such a fog of hormones and sleep deprivation that I don't even remember it. I do remember turning to Mr Bibliosaur at one point, tears streaming down my face, and asking, "What have we done?" I know that sounds terrible. It wasn't that I didn't love our children, but I was so incredibly overwhelmed by...well, by everything. By the massive hormonal shifts that were happening in my body, by not getting more than 30 minutes of sleep at a time, by the overpowering neediness of the two babies that were suddenly in my life. In desperation, I picked up my twin book and discovered there was a word to describe this: twinshock. It's what happens when it all suddenly hits home.
It helped that my mother flew to Australia from the USA, arriving after we'd been home just a few days and stayed with us for a couple of weeks; even though she'd never had multiples of her own, she had given birth to and raised three children and her experience and advice were invaluable, and Mr Bibliosaur and I grew more confident by the day. And then she went back to the States. And Mr Bibliosaur, who had taken a month off, had to go back to work. And I was home. Alone. With two babies.
I was terrified. How could I even begin deal with this? What would I do when they needed to be fed at the same time? What about if they both started crying at the same time? I'm not a baby person - I never babysat as a teen, never even interacted a great deal with my friends' children until they were toddlers. What did I know about parenting infants? Nothing! The twinshock returned in full force, and I was shaking hard when I kissed Mr Bibliosaur goodbye the morning he returned to work. I turned to face my two 4-week-old children, uncertain how we'd make it through the next eight hours. And yet somehow we did. I cried with relief when Mr Bibliosaur arrived home that night, but at the same time I felt a surge of hope - we'd managed to survive a day! I had no idea how we'd make it through the rest of the week, but we could at least make it through one day.
The same thing happened the next day, and the next, and by the fourth day I was starting to feel better - more clear headed, more confident. I'd worked out my preferred method of feeding them both at once, and luckily for me they seldom fussed at the same time. Since then, things have gotten easier every day, taking a huge turn for the better at around six weeks when the boys dropped one of their nighttime feedings and started sleeping for slightly longer at night; and now at nine weeks, I feel like an old pro. The twinshock has long since worn off, and although I still get nervous occasionally when I need to take them somewhere that's crowded and busy, on the whole I feel happy and confident about my ability to care for them.
So if you've just had twins and are feeling overwhelmed...hang in there, OK? It will get better - I promise!
Monday, June 14, 2010
For now, I'm just trying to enjoy our good luck, and our Easy Baby, and be so thankful that we haven't had to deal with colic or reflux or attachment issues, or any of those other newborn difficulties. Maybe we'll have a difficult two-year-old, or our time will come once he's school-age. Who knows. For now, though, I am just so lucky to have such a wonderful baby boy.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
It had reached the point where I didn't even know why I was doing for anymore. I enjoyed the bonding time with the boys, but that was becoming more and more difficult. I thought tandem feeding would be easier as they got older, but it actually got harder - they're far more difficult to lift with one arm, and squirm a lot more - so our breastfeeding sessions were quickly turning into half an hour of: "Dashiell, stop moving, you're sliding off the pillow. Will, latch back on. OK, we're set. No Dash, hold still. Crap, Will is sucking down air - hold on boys, he needs to be broken off and burped. Dash, stop squirming, I need to lift you over to the side for a minute. Please stop screaming honey, it's just for a minute... Will, latch back on. Now to lift Dash back - oh geez, you're heavy kiddo!" Yes, I could feed them separately, but that makes feeding take twice as long (effectively turning me into an all day buffet) and would put them on different eating/sleeping schedules.
So the only things that were keeping me BFing were convenience and cost - not having to buy formula or wash and prepare bottles, and having food available on tap when we're out somewhere (I packed bottles since tandem feeding isn't exactly discrete, but the breastmilk was always there as a back up). And even those arguments were starting to wear thin.
When I realized all of this, I didn't know what to do. I wanted SO badly to stop, but felt like an asshat for fighting so hard for it only to give up, even though after six weeks of desperately struggling I still wasn't anywhere near fully breastfeeding (I could manage one session in the morning without supplementing, and then they got 1-3oz of formula in the afternoon/night as my supply progressively dwindled).
It also really wasn't helping that side effects from the domperidone had started to kick in - the mild headaches sucked, but the worst part was the fatigue. It was so bad that several times I nearly slept through the babies screaming for food - Mr Bibliosaur had to shake me awake. So the drug that helped me to breastfeed also made it harder because I was so unbelievably tired all the time. And being extra tired also meant it was even more difficult to cope with two fussy babies.
I was so torn...one part of me wanted to push ahead, but the other part wanted to put an end to all of this and admit surrender. I was just so TIRED - I didn't know how I could keep doing all of that - the breastfeeding, the pumping, the supplementing. I'd been battling breastfeeding for six long weeks and I desperately needed a resolution - an end to the marathon feeding sessions, to the stress and worry, to the exhaustion.
So after some long, tearful conversations with friends and with Mr Bibliosaur, I decided to stop breastfeeding. Today is day three after I made this decision, and I won't lie - it's been emotionally devastating, and I've cried numerous times. It's a terrible thing to have to look at something that you've wanted so much, that you've struggled and fought for, and be forced to acknowledge that it's simply not going to happen no matter what you do. I tried everything - nursing, pumping, natural remedies, even medication - and it still wasn't working. I'm just one of the minority of women who cannot get a good enough supply to breastfeed (at least not two babies).
After just one day, the drop in my milk production was astonishing, even though I'm still taking the domperidone (it's recommended that you wean yourself off vs simply stopping, even if you're no longer breastfeeding) - I think the rate that it's declined at is a pretty good indication of just how perpetually on the edge my supply was. Right now I'm still pumping a couple of times a day to relieve the pressure of engorgement, so the boys are still getting that breastmilk in their bottles a couple of times a day, but the quantity is steadily dropping.
I know I'm not alone in all of this - I know there are a lot of formula feeding mothers out there. And I know that formula isn't bad or evil (in fact, I'm grateful that it exists, since it means my boys can still grow and thrive even though I can't feed them myself). It's still been a difficult decision, and I'm sad and disappointed that I couldn't feed them on my own. But I look at their little faces - happy, smiling little faces - and I know I made the right decision.