An Honest Mom Blog

As Told By Tory

As Told By Tory

An Honest Mom Blog

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Wondering What You Should Have Done Before Your Husband Gets Home?

Wondering What You Should Have Done Before Your Husband Gets Home?

I recently read a post with a title similar to this. It detailed a list of things that should be done by a stay at home mom by the time that her husband gets home. While it was a very interesting read, I did feel […]

Here’s How Our First G-Tube Post Op Went

Here’s How Our First G-Tube Post Op Went

Today was not a great day. In fact, I’m not afraid to say that it wasn’t a good day at all. We started with two full hours of crying babies first thing in the morning and then threw our first post op on top of […]

I’m Giving Up Breastfeeding and It’s Bittersweet

I’m Giving Up Breastfeeding and It’s Bittersweet

This post contains multiple photos of me breastfeeding. If this offends you or makes you uncomfortable, I recommend that you stop reading this post now.

 

This week, I know that I am very close to breastfeeding my children for the last time. We have made it through nearly three months and letting it go is definitely bittersweet. I have grown to love nursing my babies, but it hasn’t always been that way.

From the time that I learned I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed. In fact, I wanted to do it for at least the first six months of the boys’ lives. I researched and knew that because I was having twins there was a risk of them being premature and having difficulty nursing, so when I made it through 37 weeks of pregnancy with my littles I was filled with hope that things would go well. Though, I wasn’t completely naive and had heard and read stories about breastfeeding being very difficult despite babies being fully grown.

I was encouraged in the beginning when I was told that my boys had a “textbook latch”, even though one of them wasn’t able to nurse very often due to being in the NICU. The first few days were exactly what I hoped for. Learning how to do this with them did have it’s own challenges of course, but overall things were as easy as I could have hoped for. I loved the intimate time that it provided me with each of them, and the feeling of being needed so much by someone that I loved so completely.

   

Then, after about 3 days, things started to change. Little 1 and I had been up all night cluster feeding. He had been eating every hour to hour and a half and I was red-eyed and exhausted. The nurses told me that he was helping my milk to come in and I did my best to be thankful at this amazing part of our design. Sure enough, the next morning my milk did start to come in. I woke up with breasts so full that they were rock hard and easily three times the size that they usually were. I was amazed and excited enough that I didn’t mind the discomfort.

Since my milk had come in, I started to see amazing results from pumping. Instead of just small syringes filled with colostrum, I started to see bottles filled with white breast milk. Because Little 2 was in the NICU and I was recovering from my c-section and unable to get out of bed easily to visit him, pumping milk for my baby felt like the best way to give him my love. I spent those first days nursing Little 1 and then pumping for 20-30 minutes for Little 2. Even when I was dead tired, I made sure that I stayed awake to pump as much as I could so that Little 2 could have a piece of me when I wasn’t there. It was the only thing that made me feel connected to him when I was stuck in my hospital bed and then later when I was at home 23 miles away from him. I was always so proud to bring the bottles of milk that I had pumped to his NICU fridge and see it filled with a 24 hour supply.

I think that if Little 2 hadn’t been in the NICU those first months and I hadn’t needed that little way to stay connected to him, I would have given up on breastfeeding in that very first month. Once the initial excitement faded, I started to notice the pain and inconveniences more and more. My breasts were painfully full at least every three hours. If I tried to skip a feeding and let someone else bottle feed the babies my pumped milk, I would wake up with breasts so heavy that it hurt to move. My flow was extremely heavy so my littles choked and arched their backs in frustration more times than I can count. Then there were smaller things like leaking through every piece of clothing I own, even with “boob pads” as we refer to them in our home, and sore aching muscles from staring down at my littles to make sure they were latched properly and comfortable.

When my babies started eating (and also randomly during and between feeds) my milk would “let down”. This was by far the most painful part of my breastfeeding experience and was nearly the last straw. When my milk let down I felt this searing pain for several seconds through the whole of my breasts that often caused me to gasp or wince, no matter what I happened to be doing. The NICU lactation specialists checked for infection or any other issues and we couldn’t seem to find any reason that this was happening.

When it seemed like no one would or could help me, I did what I always do and took things into my own hands. I began to research ways to “reset” and regulate your milk supply and I put the methods I found into action. Pretty soon, the pain stopped, but I had caused my milk supply to decrease so much that I was no longer producing enough milk for both boys. This opened up a whole new can of problems. The pride I had once felt in bringing pumped milk to my NICU baby was replaced by shame when I had to ask the nurses for help supplementing his food. We began to use donor milk/formula to supplement for both boys and I felt like a complete failure, despite my best efforts to maintain a positive outlook.

With the support of the NICU lactation specialists, I tried multiple ways to increase my supply. I had slowed down on how much I was pumping because it was challenging to make time for it, so I was told to make that a priority again. I also took herbal supplements that can increase your supply within 24 hours. These things did help a little bit and I was able to slow the process of losing my milk supply, but they did not prevent it entirely.

Now, after nearly three months, I have stopped pumping altogether and I am nearly done with the breastfeeding part of our lives. Though I won’t miss the pain and the guilt that has been associated with it for much of the time, there are definitely things that I will miss. I will miss the tug at my nipple when they are desperately hungry. I will miss their warm hands clamped around my breast and the weight of their body on my tummy. I will miss the way they stare into my eyes while they eat the food that my body gives them.

All things said and done, I am very grateful for this time in our lives, no matter how short or challenged it may have been.

 

 

 

Our Twin Came Home!

Our Twin Came Home!

On April 17, 2018, I gave birth to two beautiful baby boys. One twin immediately went to the NICU while the other was brought directly to me to lay on my chest. Three days later, that one twin stayed in the hospital while the other […]

First Day of Life in the NICU

First Day of Life in the NICU

When Little 2 was born, we did not know that he would have any complications. Though in hind sight, his last ultrasound was a bit of a clue. Through the first and second trimester, both of our twins had measured almost exactly the same size. […]

My Favorite Baby Bedtime Routine

My Favorite Baby Bedtime Routine

Right now I am doing the world’s quietest happy dance. You’ll never believe what happened!

Typically, Little 1 is a terror at night. He tosses and turns and grunts and groans all through his sleep. His flailing wakes him up and he begins to scream. He fights swaddles. He hates being on his back. The moment we lay him down to rest, he pops his little eyes open and voices his displeasure. Sleeping with this child (or rather, not sleeping) has been quite the challenge.

But this night was different. This night, I laid Little 1 down for bed all by himself while his eyes were still drifting open and shut… and he didn’t budge. He laid there, sleepily opening and closing his eyes, until he fell asleep. No protesting. No waving his hands in the air like a turtle who had landed on its back. He just slept.

Here’s what I did differently:

1) Bath Time. I do this about 30 minutes before “bedtime”, which is really just the approximate time that I would like him to be settled in for the night. I don’t rush this because I want it to be relaxing, but my littles come equipped with built in water guns so I don’t move too slowly either. (Tip: Littles get cold during or after bath time very easily. Try turning on a space heater in the bathroom to keep the air nice and warm.)

2) Massage. I thought people were crazy when they told me to try this, but both of my little guys love it. After bath time I quickly throw a diaper on them (again, built in water guns) and take them to a comfy spot where I will massage and dress them. I do this only for a few minutes and only so long as the coos and contented looks continue. It’s meant to be relaxing so if they start to get upset or impatient, I wrap it up. See here for a step by step tutorial of how to massage your baby.

3) Pajamas. Science has proven over and over again that warmth makes us sleepy. While it is very important that your baby is not overheated (please see this guide for safe infant sleep to reduce risk of SIDS by the American Academy for Pediatrics), you do want them to be comfortably warm. Layer according to weather. In the summer time, our house gets very stuffy and hot, so I snuggle my littles only in a light sleeper.

4) Feeding. With my children, it is inarguable that they sleep best on a full belly. They also sleep longer. Of course they still wake every 3 to 4 hours, but it sure beats every 45 minutes. So after my littles are dressed, I whip out a boob or a bottle and let them eat until they are full. I definitely don’t watch a clock for this. If they finish in 10, fantastic. If it takes them 45 minutes, I’ll probably be whining to their dad about it, but so be it.

5) Story or Song. Even though Dad helps with the whole routine, this is my favorite part for him to do. There’s just something about his voice when he is intentionally soothing. I like to think that when we take the boys camping in a few years and he sings them to sleep, all of the baby animals will gather, like a Disney movie. But I might be biased. Anyways, the last thing we do for bed is softly read a story or sing a lullaby. Often I repeat until their eyes are mostly shut, just for safe measure. (God forbid I have to start all over.)

Whelp, that’s it! That’s my magical routine that got Little 1 to go right to sleep without even having to be held the whole time. Whether it will work tomorrow or not, who knows! He might refuse it just to spite me. But I’ll take my little victories where I can get them. If you try it, let me know how it works for you! Or if you’ve got any suggestions to get babies to sleep better, let me know!

Zombie-fied and Bleary Eyed

Zombie-fied and Bleary Eyed

I’m convinced that the zombie apocalypse will happen not because of some mutant disease, but because the brains of so many sleep deprived new parents will turn to mush and cause us to roam around, moaning and searching for a place to nap. I mean, […]


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