Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Breastfeeding Saga

This is such an emotional subject for me, and I suppose that's why I have avoided writing about it.  Things have not gone the way I had hoped and I'm still not over it.

I think I wrote about it before, but I feel like I was doomed in the hospital.  My plan was to exclusively breastfeed the boys.  Elliott immediately had a great latch, and it took Oliver a day or two to really "get it" but once he did, it was great!  My milk hadn't come in by the time we left the hospital and I had to supplement Oliver with a little bit of donor milk using a syringe.  I was okay with that because he wasn't getting an artificial nipple.

The boys' were born on a Friday, and by Sunday they had lost 8% and 9% of their weight.  The lactation consultant and the boys' pediatrician were getting nervous and pretty much forced me to give them bottles and formula before we even left.  I was pissed to say the least.  I think they were worried because I had a low supply with the girls, and my milk hadn't come in by the time we left on Sunday. (It came in a couple hours after we got home.)

Anyways, fast forward a month: I met with a lactation consultant at the end of March when the boys were 4 weeks old.  I wasn't making much milk (about 24oz/day) and I was having problems getting the boys to take a full feed from the breast.  I even got a scale so that I could weigh them before/after feeds to see how much they were actually getting from the breast... which wasn't much... about 1.5-2 oz.  At that point they needed at least 3oz every 3 hours.

The LC suggested that I try and tandem breastfeed, tandem supplement (have the bottles ready to go so I could feed them after they BF) and then pump.  This sounded GREAT!  But, when I got home and tried to do this, I lasted all of like 2 days and then gave up because it was way too hard with the girls crawling all over me.  Not to mention, this whole process took about 2 hours, and then I had to start again an hour later.

The LC also suggested trying to increase my supply by taking domperidone.  She's not a doctor, so I had to talk to my OBGYN about it and he agreed that I could take it.  Its not readily available in the United States, but there's a compounding pharmacy that makes it (and its only about 2 miles from my house!)  I started that, and it took about a month to really see the results.  I increased from 24oz/day to where I am now- about 40 oz/day!  The medicine is super spendy, but I would rather "buy" my own breastmilk instead of stupid formula.

After I saw the increase in supply, I thought maybe I could try and exclusively BF them again.  I reached out to my local MOMs group to see if they had any suggestions on how I should go about doing that.  Many said that I should just stop supplementing all together cold turkey, put babies to breast as often as possible, and pretty much just BF them all day long.  After reading all of those responses, I realized that it was not possible to do all of that.  I have two toddlers that need their mom's attention too and it just wasn't going to be fair to them spending so much time BFing the boys all day long.  After thinking long and hard, I decided to just pump for them and try and BF them when I had time.

I was okay with that decision for about a week.  It was kind of a relief to not be trying so hard to do something seemingly impossible.  But, at the same time, I was so sad about letting go of the breastfeeding.  I felt so robbed of the opportunity.  I know its nobody's fault exactly, but I still blame the people in the hospital for not thinking it is possible to BF twins.  I know many women who have successfully BF their twins.   This may sound silly, but I went through a grieving period. I thought I was okay, but I wasn't.

I know that the most important thing is for the boys to have the breastmilk, whichever way they get it.  But, I just feel like I have failed.  They are almost 3 months old (will be next week) and I am still struggling with this.  Most people I talked to either figured it out, or just went to pumping by this time.  I mostly pump, and try to BF them when I can.  Sometimes its just not possible because the girls need meals, need mama snuggles, or just need whatever.

I quit pumping for the girls when they were about 5 months, and I hope to go longer with the boys.  I was working and not making very much (16oz/day) at that point when I quit.  I think that was part of my frustrations with them... But, since its summer now, I will be home and have the time to pump every 3 or so hours.

The boys get only about 4-8oz of formula each day and that I am happy about.  I'm glad that I can provide most of their milk, but wish that it didn't have to be by bottle.  The most important thing is that they are healthy and happy.. I know that.  But, it still doesn't make it any easier.  For now, I'm going to keep on keepin' on and I have hope that perhaps things will get better.


AletaObrien said...

Hugs* you are not failing your sons. You are an incredibly mommy already and they are fortunate to have you as a mom! For me, I had to pump and my supply was so low that I had to go to formula. I felt horrible about that too. I have thyroid issues and the doctor thinks that's the culprit for my low milk supply. But as long as my son is growing and happy, I'm happy.

Aspgriswold said...

I can totally imagine having all these feelings. I think it is so awesome that you have stuck with it and are giving those boys what you can!!

Juanita Dorrington said...

Honey, I had similar issues (and that was without having two toddlers to deal with). You are a super hero for trying, for keeping at it and for producing what you do. Breastfeeding and pumping and bottles all combined is seriously hard work and seriously stressful (and that once again is not mentioning the toddlers). Give yourself lots of recognition for what you are managing to achieve, it is amazing, the boys are not getting much formula at all, so you are doing brilliantly. I by the way kept up what you are doing until six months at which point my daughter started to refuse the breast and I figured it was just time to let it go. You keep it up as long as you feel comfortable with and as long as you can without jeapordising your time with all four of your goregous babes. The most important thing all your kids need from you is your love and I promise that while I do agree breastmilk is the ideal, formula is the most researched 'food' in the world and will not do them ANY harm at all. Big hugs to you