Monday, January 31, 2011
Fast forward to the birth of my girls. I was still recovering from my c-section and hadn't even seen my girls when the nurses rolled in a hospital grade breast pump and got me started on expressing milk. Although I planned on breastfeeding, no one ever really asked me. So I diligently started pumping every three hours, even through the night. Very quickly I was producing more than enough milk for my little preemies in the NICU.
It wasn't until my girls were nearly ready to leave the hospital that the nurses suggest that we give breastfeeding a try. Until that point I was pumping and they were eating expressed milk. Grace tried first and really had no interest. So she went back to the bottle. Several days later we tried with Ana. She was better but clearly still needed to take a bottle as well. My babies were less than 5 pounds and they sent me home with them without any clear plan on how to feed them. I had never successfully breastfed before bringing them home at two weeks of age.
Despite what "they" say, breastfeeding is at first completely unnatural. It feels awkward and strange. Add in an enormous pillow for support and there is nothing discreet or normal feeling about holding a baby to your boob. There was no way for me to fail at pumping, so I stuck with my machine for the first few weeks my girls were home. Eventually pumping became a chore while breastfeeding felt unsuccessful. The girls had a painful latch and ate poorly from the breast. I had to give them a bottle after every feeding. It was time consuming. It was awkward. It was painful.
I hated breastfeeding. While I was also not particularly fond of my relationship with the pump, at least it didn't hurt and wasn't frustrating. The nurses, lactation consultants and the books all said that breastfeeding should never be painful. They are full of shit. It hurt and it hurt badly. There were moments of pure pain when I cried as the girls latched on. There were moments where I wanted to scream and give up.
To top it off, I felt no bonding as a result of breastfeeding. Everything I'd read said that breastfeeding allowed for a special bond between mom and baby. I saw it only as a means to an end.
I don't know why I didn't give up. At 3 weeks I was miserable. At 4 weeks I was still in pain. At 5 weeks I was sure that I was going to give up. Now that my girls are 12 weeks old I can't even say how I got to this point. What I do know is that I started setting small goals. Instead of thinking about nursing for 6 months, I gave myself permission to reevaluate every week. I started to increase the number of times I tried to nurse. In the beginning I only nursed once a day. Now I nurse 7-8 times a day (per girl). Some time in the last 7 weeks it clicked for us; suddenly the girls' latch improved, eventually the pain disappeared and slowly but surely I replaced the bottles with the breast.
Now I don't even like the one time a day that the girls get a bottle (pediatrician ordered-- it is a formula supplement for preemies with higher calorie content). What I have come to appreciate about breastfeeding is that there is no prep work, no dishes and my ability to do it anywhere. It fits well with my busy (and lazy...) lifestyle.
And most importantly, I have come to love that time with my girls. Occasionally I tandem feed (read: feed both at the same time), but usually I prefer to take my time with each girl. Sure, it slows down the pace of my day, but it gives me a moment to observe each one. They are distinct in their eating style, in their sounds and in their needs. Ana gets a huge smile on her face when I draw her near to nurse. It is absolutely adorable. And with twins I spend most of my day bouncing between the two of them, so I appreciate the opportunity to just be with one for a few short minutes.
I have too much of my own life to live to be concerned with what choice other moms make on how to feed their kids. But I have empathy and compassion for those who want to breastfeed and think they have to quit because it seems unsuccessful. I hope that women who want to do it will find the necessary support to continue. I am happy I did.
- Labor hurts. And then you forget about it.
- You go home from the hospital wearing pads for a reason.
- Everything the nurses said made sense until you are home alone and you are trying to remember what they told you.
- Your breasts will hurt when your baby cries.
- You will regularly call your breasts "boobs" even though you insisted you wouldn't.
- You will have entire discussions about pooping that don't make you laugh.
- Breastfeeding sucks.
- Breastfeeding gets better.
- Breastfeeding is awesome (there was progression there... read more tomorrow).
- You will be grateful for the opportunity to hand off your baby for a small break, but be dying to get her back moments later.
- Your instincts matter.
- Your instincts often matter more than the instructions given by your doctor.
- Even when you lose all the baby weight, your clothes don't fit the same anymore. All your weight is now in different places.
- You forget that all your clothes don't have elastic waistbands and you forget to unzip them before trying to take them off.
- Suddenly all the cliches are not cliches anymore. A baby really does change everything and they do grow up fast.
- It is okay to accept meals and offers for help.
- The word "blowout" makes sense.
- The poop of breastfed babies doesn't smell bad.
- Formula smells terrible.
- Babies make a lot of noise when they sleep.
- It is hard to get the baby out of your room once you let her sleep in there.
- You will wonder if everything your baby does is normal.
- It is okay to call the advice nurse.
- You suddenly understand why your parents did many of the things they did.
- Every time you think you can't love your baby anymore than you already do, she does something to make you fall in love again.
I wish someone had told me that I was made to be a mother. In the first few weeks I asked everyone what I should be doing before my mom finally told me that I could do what I wanted. I continue (and will always) to learn from other moms by asking questions, seeking advice and learning from their experience, but in the end I am the one who knows my children and can make the best decisions for them (this includes Brandon, too). I am grateful to all my family and friends who have let me ask them questions and then respect whatever decision I make.
Moms-what other things did "they" forget to tell you?
Friday, January 28, 2011
This is my 100th blog post. If I was a real blogger I would have some fancy giveaway... but alas, I have only my aspirations and a pail full of stinky diapers. So instead I gift you all with this eye candy.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
1. I was too scared to share my failures with the internet
2. I was too scared to share my failures with the people I know in real life who would read this blog
3. Eventually I got pregnant and didn't need to lose weight
I don't intend on making this blog entirely about weight loss. But losing weight is part of the journey I am on in this life and so I intend on writing about it. As you can see two of the three reasons I stopped being honest about it was because of my fear of failure-- so for today let's start with a story of success. Perhaps that will be inspiring, no?
Yesterday morning I met a friends and we walked for nearly an hour on some steep trails. It was a great workout--especially with 9 pounds of baby strapped to my chest. The girls were good most of the day until the afternoon. After feeding both of the girls there was still a lot of screaming going on in my house. So I tried calming them each down; I tried to burp, bounce, breastfeed... nothing was working. Without going into a lot of detail let's just say that I am a stress eater. And yesterday afternoon at 3:15, two crying babies was enough stress for me to want to start eating.
I don't know why, but instead of eating my way through the pantry I made a good choice. I put the girls into the stroller (they were still screaming) and set out to Starbucks. It was me, a double stroller and the dog on our way to have a celebratory cup of coffee for voluntarily exercising instead of stress eating. Before I even got to the corner my girls had quieted down and I could feel myself calming with each step. It was a small act and I felt good about it.
I have at least 25 pounds to lose in order to be a healthy weight. For my height and body type, I could be healthy losing closer to 40. Those are big numbers and they will not be easy for me to achieve. But small decisions like I made yesterday are exactly the sorts of choices that will make a big difference in my journey.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
People keep asking me, "How do you do it?"
Having a baby is challenging, so I imagine that to most people having TWO babies seems like it would be difficult with all those diaper changes and feedings. There is twice the crying, double the laundry and half the rest.
So when people ask me how I can do it, the answer is always "I don't know." I just get up every day and I do. When those adorable eyes look up at me, when the small hands grasp for me, when the tears are comforted by my arms, I don't have to think about how to do it. I change one diaper and then I change another one. I feed one girl, and then I feed the other one. I walk with baby until she is calm, and then I repeat it. I hardly even notice getting up to feed them in the night anymore-- it is just part of my life and I do it.
My girls are 12 weeks old and for me the hardest part doesn't have anything to do with the work involved. The most difficult part is that I don't have enough arms to care for both of my daughters at once. It is almost painful to watch one of my girls cry while I am serving the other. Some moments it breaks my heart when I can only help one at a time.
I am truly blessed to have such a hands-on husband and wonderful support from family and friends--especially my mom. Every moment that Brandon is home he has at least one kid in his arms. He changes diapers, helps bathe and plays with the girls. He says goodbye every morning with a kiss and bursts in the door each night ready to help with our daughters. Brandon is patient when they are fussy and patient with me when in addition to child care, I pile on the household chores.
While Brandon keeps me sane in the evenings, it is my mom who keeps me sane by day. She visits nearly every weekday and we take the girls walking. My mom will take whichever girl is fussy or needs a diaper change, freeing me to relax, even if only for 10 minutes. The other day she left me late in the afternoon with two fussy babies and declared "I don't know how you do this all day!" What she and so many others don't understand is that I can do it because of all the support I have-- people like Brandon, her and my dad, our families and our wonderful friends. I can do it because people visit me and my friends still call/text/email me. I can do it because people posts blogs and facebook statuses all day long, giving me something to read while I am pacing back and forth.
But mostly I can do it because when you love anything like I love these two little girls, it is easy to be a mom to twins. At the end of the day I remember only the love.
Monday, January 3, 2011
When I woke up last Saturday morning my Facebook feed was littered with best wishes for 2011 and posts about resolutions. Despite reading several hundred posts about the new year, I had a hard time believing that it really was a new year. For some reason Saturday didn't seem like a good day to start 2011. Monday seemed much more reasonable. People in the working world gear themselves up to work on a Monday. We relate Monday to work. Saturdays? Those are for fun.
If I try to set a goal for this year, I will fail. I know this because such a long term goal with no short term rewards doesn't work for me. So I decided that shorter resolutions would work better for me. I will make those resolutions on Monday. Unfortunately the ones I intended on meeting today were blown by about 11am this morning.
But here I will post my Monday resolutions. I will resolve to meet short term goals. And in year like this I think this is the best I can do. I have no idea how my life will be in my new role as a mom to twin girls. I don't know for sure when I am returning to work or how much I will be working. There are great changes I need to make in my life, but they are overwhelming when I think about them as a whole. Small goals-- that is what I am going for.
So here are this Monday's resolutions:
- I will not eat anymore junk tonight.
- I will not have any sugar the rest of this week.
- I will clean out the top drawer in my bathroom by the end of this week.
- I will finish putting away the Christmas decorations by tomorrow morning!
- ACHIEVE THE SMALL GOALS.
Happy 2011, my friends!