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.