I am most definitely not an expert, nor do I care to be a martyr or expert. But I have experience. I have successful experience that people want and want to know more about. I breastfed/breastfeed Twins. And not just that but I took my NICU preemies and transitioned from exclusively pumping to exclusively breastfeeding with pumping to keep up and maintain supply. I woke up for 370 nights and strapped a pump on while my babies blissfully slept (at least for about 7 Months). Why did I do this to myself? Control. Cheap. And I could.
My babies arrived after a doctors appointment at 32 weeks and 3 days. Healthy little fellas weighing in at 3lbs 6 oz and 3 lbs 9 oz. This was the day that I handed in my birth plan that told everyone my wishes, in a loose manner of course. I wanted to try to breastfeed. I wanted to see my babies. I wanted the hospital and the doctors to acknowledge my partner. And I wanted the babies to be put in the nursery so I could get some sleep so sure give them formula. As plans go, mine was not going my way. My blood pressure was a staggering 187/120, I thought I was having a heart attack. My doctors were shocked that I had not had a stroke or a seizure. Blood pressure meds were being given and a magnesium drip was in. I was sick. I did not have a choice these guys were coming or I was going to start shutting down. But I had some amazing labor and delivery nurses who actually took the time to read my plan and try their best to accomodate what they could.
I do not remember much after the c - section but I remember being packed with heated blankets and the nurses scrambling because my temperature was dangerously low and agreeing that I wanted to pump. How was I going to do that? Oh months later I asked my friend if she pumped me in the hospital which she replied, yes. So there I am my first time strapped to a pump and my friend is holding cups to my new mom boobs.
Anyway the next day was a slew of doctors and nurses and lactation consultants specifically for NICU moms. I couldn’t meet my babies until I had the magnesium drip out but I could still pump. I was offered a role in a study for NICU moms who are separated from their babies. As sad as that sounds they found the right person, the teacher in me said of course when they handed me a hospital grade pump to take home until my twins could transfer milk. I agreed to pump 8 - 10 times a day and record the amount that I produced. In my mind this study is what not only got my milk supply up but put me in control of an out of control situation. As I said then I was trying to make life normal out of what is soooo not normal.
Fast forward 38 and 40 days of being an inpatient NICU mom to taking my twins, Jase and Evan home. I was still pumping. Still on a mission, no longer for a study but for myself. I felt like it was what I had. I still feel that way. I may have been a hot mess in my head but I was holding it together for my children and I was continuing to nourish them outside of my womb. I was doing that. Me alone. Control.
I continued to pump 8x a day, bottle feeding the fellas and falling apart at the same time. I would give them “snack boob” if they were hungry in between our set 3 hour rule that we took home from the NICU. Or if they were inconsolable and crying. I kept trying to use these darn nipple shields the LC’s had given me and all the fancy pillows to get them to tandem. HOT MESS! We were 3 months in and my psychiatrist told me all of the reasons I should stop breastfeeding. That this needed to stop so I could heal mentally. With my therapist we devised a plan to keep on trying but going from 8 to 6 pumps or feeds a day. The boys were big enough now weight and physically that they were the size of a 1 month old so we became more actively trying to latch them. And then one day it did.
At first I would not put them in tandem while alone. But if my partner was there he would get them both on. And if not I would pump and bottle feed. As I gained confidence in my abilities to feed them the proper amounts and what I pumped was not necessarily a measure of what they could get when attached me, I started feeding alone. And 6 times turned to 5 with one pump overnight. It got way easier. They became more efficient. Sessions were not 45min anymore. We limited them to 30 and again as they got stronger it was only 10 - 15 minutes for a feeding.
I had it in my mind that there was no way I could keep up with the needs of twins and we would be done at 6 months of that. I said I would NOT be pumping at work. I bought the formula maker, stock piled formula, and once summer came (I am teacher and was lucky to take off the semester and summer, about 8 months) I was like ok we should be done. But I didn’t feel done. What we were doing was working. I have some amazing friends who successfully breastfed their singletons who convinced me that pumping at work was not bad. That I would only have to do that for a little while, though not thinking that I supplied twins so I did not actually finish pumping until they were about 15 months (spring break). So breastfeed I kept doing. Pumping happened at work 2 times a day for most of the semester than moved to once at lunch.
At just over 19 months I have been slowly weaning for a while now. We only nurse 1 - 2 times a day in the morning and at night. I still have issues letting go that I work through in therapy, but I know its ok to let go. Jase and Evan are very happy and very healthy little mens as we call them. People ask if they are a year and half and we smile with glee that they could guess their age correctly. I am amazed with my body and how it literally nourished these guys exclusively for almost 2 full years from pregnancy through just after a year when they started eating more real meals. I love our time together and letting go is hard. Change is hard. But they are growing and still need their mama, but in other way. I am so proud to answer questions and be looked at as someone who made this transition. Again I am no expert or a martyr I am just a woman who does not like to be told I cannot and who really does not like to relinquish full control of a situation if I can help it all.