Saturday, March 6, 2010

My First Failure

Let's get this straight. I do not think I'm a failure. I make lists. I make plans. If I don't achieve everything in my plans, I have failed at my plan. That doesn't mean that I have failed at the overall goal. It doesn't mean that I haven't found another route to success. What it means is that I was thrown a curve ball. Infant twin girls is quite possibly the biggest curve ball of my life.

So what's my first failure is this plan I had for parenthood? Breastfeeding. The great debate of mothers everywhere. We all know that breast is best, but some women take it a bit further than others. And those women make other women feel like--yep, you guessed it--failures.

The morning Lillie and Dani were born, a nurse came to tell me that they both had low blood sugar and needed formula to help them stay healthy. I didn't even think twice about it. I was still recovering from the surgery, and I wanted my girls to be strong and not spend one night in the NICU, so I said formula was fine. In the back of my head, I knew that I would be able to start breastfeeding later in the day.

Later in the day arrives, and Robin, the LC, comes to visit my room. She shows and tells me how to massage my breast and get the babies in a football hold so I could tandem feed. They both have a little trouble--Lillie more than Dani--but they both eventually latch on and start sucking. Success! Not only are my girls nursing, they're doing it at the same time!!!

Every day in the hospital, we practiced. Robin was encouraging and very helpful. Sometimes there was success; sometimes there was just crying (from all three of us). I repeated over and over again that the three of us were going to be breastfeeding rock stars, and I diligently tried at least three times a day to get them to nurse. (See, with preemies, you have to worry about tiring them out. We don't want to burn excessive calories trying to get them to eat just so they have to turn around and eat more because you burned too many calories getting them to eat.) When we checked out on Wednesday, I promised myself I would pump and keep trying to get them to nurse at home.

Oh, how home is different from the hospital! There aren't nurses there to take your babies to the nursery so you can rest. All the planning you've done to set up the house for the new arrivals doesn't prepare you for the onslaught of things you need at hand right away. (It probably also doesn't help that they arrived a little early so we were completely prepared.) Babies, no matter how hard you try to keep them on a schedule, do not believe in schedules. They will wake, cry, wail, scream whenever they feel it necessary. So getting away to pump or trying to struggle through a nursing session doesn't wear well on the nerves.

So, after being home for nearly a month, I've been mostly pumping--giving them about two ounces each of express milk a day and then supplementing with formula. Well, I guess I should say they get mostly formula, and I'm supplementing with expressed milk. Eh, semantics.

We try nursing every now and again, but it still doesn't go very well. And every day I think about it, it does hurt me a little inside that I can't give my girls full nutrition on my own. I know there are ways to increase my milk production--supplements (which I'm taking) and pumping more often (again, let's go back to that babies don't believe in schedules thing). But I'm starting to come to terms with formula, breast milk, and the pump.

If the nursing doesn't work this coming week, then we're done. I'll pump until six weeks, and then they'll be formula babies. There's nothing wrong with that, no matter how many people want to tell me differently. I would rather sit and hold my babies while they drink from a bottle than struggle with them as they kick and cry as I'm trying to nurse them. I would rather be there, in the moment, with Lillie and Dani rather than be stressed because one won't go to sleep or lie quietly while I go pump.

So, even though I've had my first failure in my plan of parenting, I know that there are many more failures ahead of me. In the end, I will not be a failure at anything because I'll always find a different route to success.


  1. I'm proud of you for having tried this long, but also understanding that breastfeeding is not for every baby. Hopefully this will cut the stress level down. :)

    Love you!

  2. I wondered how this might be going for you, and am glad you've given it such a good try. Is it essential to nurse both at once? Maybe you could alternate breast and bottle for each throughout the day? I had a terrible time at first and did my share of crying; but I reminded myself that the process would use up my body's remaining baby fat – don't discount that benefit – and it was really easy once we both got the hang of it. Eventually I could nurse on one side and pump on the other simultaneously. Hope these ideas help. Kudos for you desire to excel!

  3. I know this is about a year and half too late and maybe even a dollar short but I wanted to say kudos for trying so long and hard to nurse your twins and maybe offer advice to someone who is reading this pregnant with twins. I have found success in nursing my twins separately. I thought since I nursed my son for a year it would be so easy but turns out, it's not. Every baby is different and that's no exception with twins. The LC had me attempt to tandem them right away and that did NOT work for us. I pumped all of the feedings for a month but with my husband deploying and that was not going to work. I got a different LC to come to the house and work on them individually and that was a life saver. Now at 4 months we can tandem pretty easily (in bed, with a pillow, if they aren't too cranky) but I would advise any new multiple moms to not worry so much about tandem. :) I know it's not easy being a mom to multiples but it sounds like you did the best thing for your family. :)