Sometimes You Feel Like a Cow…

I have decided there is an art to feeding two babies, especially if you want to feed them at the same time.  And then there is the question of whether you should/can/want to breastfeed.  When I was pregnant I was asked all the time if I planned on breastfeeding or not.  I really wasn’t sure if I would even be able to breastfeed the babies.  About 2 years ago I had a breast reduction.  I had been having severe back and shoulder pain and after meeting with my physician and a plastic surgeon decided this was the best decision for me, and I have never regretted it.  I knew going into the surgery that I would have a 50/50 chance at being able to breastfeed, but being able to have child and run and play with them without thinking about my back/shoulder pain getting in the way made it totally worth it.

Because I wasn’t sure how breastfeeding would go for me, I was very open to breastfeed, formula feed, or both for our two little ones.  I definitely wanted to try breastfeeding, but I had to come to terms with the fact that it just may not happen for me.  I do not regret my decision to have the breast reduction, but I also didn’t realize the pressure I would feel to breastfeed my babies.  Everyone tells you stories about their friend of a friend of a friend who had triplets and breastfed all three babies for an entire year, or their friend with twins who never struggled with breastfeeding two and even could do it at the same time.  I am sure these stories were meant to encourage me, but they really just made me feel like I was an awful mom if I was not able to breastfeed my babies.

When the babies were born Ian’s blood sugar was in the 30’s which is really low, the solution for low blood sugar in newborns is to supplement with formula, so he was immediately given formula.  Once his blood sugar was within normal levels I was able to try breastfeeding the boys.  I tried feeding both but didn’t have anything come in, no colostrum at all.  I tried several more times, but the boys would just be screaming because they were not receiving any food and I was frustrated because I wasn’t helping them.  This is when I decided to pump and supplement with formula.  It took several days for my colostrum to come in and almost a week before I had any milk come in.  I kept pumping and would just add any breast milk to their formula.  I was only able to get about 2oz every time I pumped.  Definitely not enough to support two growing boys! Noah now eats 3-4 oz with every feeding and Ian eats 3oz, so the 1oz per baby I was contributing was not much.  I still felt pressure to continue pumping, but I was conflicted.  I had been having a very difficult time with the postpartum hormones and emotions, my blood pressure has been completely out of whack, I was put on bedrest and faced with the possibility of being admitted to the hospital all while trying to adjust to life with newborn twins and find time to pump.  But what kind of Mom am I if I don’t try or if I cannot at least contribute a little breast milk to my boys? I don’t think anyone put this pressure on me, I think as moms we put pressure on our selves.  Pressure to have it all together, to be the perfect Mom, and to at least demonstrate you gave it everything you had and tried to contribute to your babies.  Really the best thing I can do for my babies is give them a healthy Mom.  My body has been completely off with everything going on, although my blood pressure is beginning to normalize and move in the right direction I still have the postpartum crazies and side effects from the medication I am on, one of the major ones is drowsiness! What new mom needs to be on a medication that makes them sleepy?!?

I had the babies by myself for most of the week last week and found it even more difficult to find time to pump.  My medication makes me nauseous and feel bad along with feeling tired all on top of still learning how to care for two newborns.  I tried my hardest to continue to pump this week, but noticed my milk supply was already decreasing, instead of getting 2oz each time I pumped I had started getting 1-1 1/2 oz.  There just comes a time when the effort and stress is not worth the benefit.  Although I still struggle with this decision and feel guilty for giving up breastfeeding I honestly think it is what is best for our family.  The boys are healthy and growing perfectly. What more could I ask for? I know this may not be the popular decision, but I am just excited that my boys at least got 3 weeks of some breast milk and colostrum.  For someone who didn’t even know if it was possible to breastfeed I think that is a major accomplishment! I need to rejoice in the small victories and not focus on what ifs or compare myself to other moms. I have to understand that I am a good Mom even if I am not a very good milk buffet, I tried my hardest and it just didn’t work out, but that is ok.  Formula works for us.  It has actually opened up the opportunity for other people to help with feedings.  When Jeremy is home it gives him one on one time with the babies, it allows him the opportunity to help me at night and I believe it has helped him bond with the babies more.  I know feeding babies formula isn’t ideal or the most popular decision to make, but it has brought our family many blessings. It is simply what works for us.

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3 Responses to Sometimes You Feel Like a Cow…

  1. kelly says:

    I am so proud of you for even giving it a go! Your boys will never know the difference! 🙂

  2. Heather Basler says:

    Whitney, I don’t know how much you care to hear from me since it’s been so long since I’ve actually seen you, but I’ve been loving your blog (kinda makes me feel like a stalker!) My little boy is now one and a half, and I’m so ready to start trying for another! So I love everyone’s baby stories, but twins are especially fascinating — I know several other people who have had twins lately, or will soon.

    I really enjoyed this post in particular. From everything else you’ve said here and on facebook, it sounds like you’re a great mom and have really been doing everything you can with your boys’ best interest in mind, even before they were born. And for someone who cares that much to be willing to publicize difficulties with breastfeeding, is really great to see.

    When I was pregnant, I felt pressured from all sides to breast feed once Gavin was born. I’m sure some of it was in my head, but I felt like even my closest family (including my mother who didn’t breast feed me!!) were judging me for even considering not doing so.

    The problem was that Gavin was born during my last semester of law school. The timing worked out great in most ways — I was able to spend most of his first seven months at home with him. But to do that I had to spend one full day a week at school,45 minutes away, starting when he was about a week old! I had no idea how I could pump, privately, at school, and store the milk to bring it back home, and I read that I couldn’t give him a bottle at all for at least four weeks if I wanted him to learn to breast feed properly. My tuition was completely covered by scholarship and I was afraid that if I took time off I would lose that.

    I really did agonize over the decision, because I only want the best for my son and would do anything for him. But in the end, it was best for our whole family to bottle feed. And I loved it! Christopher had opportunities to bond with Gavin and share every responsibility. From day one he became a parent who could take care of all Gavin’s needs anytime I wasn’t around. We were able to be a team in every way. Other family members were also able to be more involved in those very early days. We were lucky in that Gavin took to the first formula and bottles we picked out and thrived with them. He’s also been a very healthy kid.

    I’m very impressed with women who do choose to breastfeed, and I highly respect that you tried so hard to do so, even with two, with the health issues you were having, and with all the difficulty you had with it. Your babies have a lot of love, and I think that’s as important as anything else you could give them. You should be very proud, of yourself and those gorgeous babies!

    • Whitney says:

      Heather,
      I loved hearing from you! Thank you for sharing your story with me, it makes me feel like I am not the only one who struggled with a decision like this. I know as a mom most of the pressure we feel we put on ourselves, at least I do. It was such a hard decision. I felt like by not breastfeeding or not trying harder or longer to breastfeed I was not living up to the standards a good mom would. I know it was totally pressure I put on myself. Once I really got to thinking and praying about it I made the decision not to breastfeed anymore. It was a tough choice! After making that decision I did feel pressure and judgement from people, I wanted to explain every time someone asked me if I was breastfeeding why I wasn’t and what led me to make that choice so they would know I truly had my boys best interest in mind. I finally had to come to terms with my decision and know I made the best choice for our family. I have felt so much less pressure since making that decision. It is tough feeding two babies and then having to pump after. I have had more energy and more time for my boys and I am so much less stressed. plus it has really allowed Jeremy to help me with the boys and meet at their needs. He gets a chance to really bond with the boys and I have a buddy to talk to while we are both up for all the night time feedings. I know it had to have been a tough decision for you, but it sounds like it ended up being the best one. I think all we can do is do the best we know how and make the best decisions for our families, everyone has a different path and no ones looks the same. Thank you again for sharing your story with me! I really appreciate it!

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