June 8, 2014

FIAO 5.1 - Feeding Twins

Happy Belated 30th Birthday to me!  Yesterday was a fantastic birthday and we're having my party here this afternoon but I was reading a topic on one of my fb boards and I had to write about it. A woman was struggling with feeding her twins. Seriously struggling. One would not latch and just screamed constantly, the other would eat for a few minutes then sleep only to wake just as she was getting going with the other, they were not on a schedule of any kind and were actually on alternating nap schedules. She was at her wit's end. I cringed for her and decided to write about my own battle with this breastfeeding business. You see, breastfeeding and I have had quite the love/hate relationship over the years. I know, it's super weird, especially since I myself was not breastfed and I don't even have kids yet. Let me explain.

When I was young I found out what breast feeding was and immediately thought it must be the most disgusting and embarrassing part of motherhood (haha! how little I knew!).  I was glad I wasn't breastfed and that no one I knew was doing it. I decided around 14 that I would never, ever, breastfeed my kids.  It didn't help that I had a major phobia of anything related to bodily-functions as well as a an unhealthy desire to never "change" (eg: I was terrified of getting my period, growing boobs, having sex, giving birth, etc.).  My first period was seriously traumatic for me and forget talking about reproduction in school, I was so grossed out I threw up. Needless to say the idea of actually feeding a child off my own body was an absolute no-no. Just the fact that we can even produce milk, from our nipples no less, and encourage our children to ingest it, come on when you look at it that way how could anyone think it's a good idea?! That is, of course, until you learn a little bit more about it all. Which, thankfully, I did as I grew older.

When I was 21 my cousin was born and for the first time in my life I actually observed this terrifying act of a baby eating from mother's breast. My aunt explained all about it and patiently let me watch while she answered my questions. I won't say that I was sold but I was intrigued and more than a little shocked that it wasn't in fact the disgusting, painful, stressful mess that I had always imagined. Years later as we started changing the way we lived I began to learn more about the actual benefits of breastfeeding and it wasn't long before I had completely changed my mind and knew I was going to do it no matter what. I believed that it was best for a few reasons, namely that it is the most natural, that it provides an extra boost of nutrition and other good stuff in the beginning and that it was cheaper than formula (which I have nothing against and always fully supported). I was proud of myself for making an educated choice in the healthiest way to feed (in my opinion) my future children. I came full circle in about 10 years and my family was a little surprised but since times are changing and more and more women are choosing to exclusively breastfeed (EBF) I have plenty of support out there.

And then... along came the twins. And all of a sudden I was no where near as solid in my decision. I looked up "breastfeeding twins" and found that while the stories were inspiring and informative they were equally daunting and overwhelming. I read words like, "I haven't slept more than 1 hour at a time, every 4 or 5 hours, since the twins came home a month ago" and "I change, feed, burp, put down and then pump and just as I finish pumping they're ready to feed again" and "They've been alternating eating and crying non-stop since midnight, it's now 8am and I am so tired I can't see straight and hubs just left for work".  WHAAAA??? I'm supposed to WANT to do that to myself?

Then you get the women that... how do I say this nicely.... sugar coat the bullshit. The, "it's such an amazing experience to just feed and pump constantly because I know I'm doing what's BEST for my babies. I wouldn't have it any other way!" See how they conveniently leave out the fact that that their eyeballs have long since melted from exhaustion and their asses will never be normally shaped again as they haven't moved from their feeding spot in 3 weeks!! Sanctimommies drive me insane but I'm finding the ones pretending that breastfeeding twins is peaches and pie are the WORST! Just be honest. I KNOW it will be a painful, exhausting and stressful process that will not even begin to resemble the beautiful, rewarding experience we all seek for at least a few months.  No matter how many times you tell me that you're cool with being a milk factory because "it's best for baby." 

(You will come to find that I am not of the camp that believes we should give up who we are as soon as we become parents. I will not sacrifice my own sanity or happiness for anything or anyone and I will raise my girls to do the same. It's called loving yourself first and it took me a while to get here, so I'm staying. And yes that means even above some of the needs and desires of my children, who I believe will not only be happier, but more importantly, more secure and well-rounded adults than those of women who lose themselves in the "best choices" of motherhood.)

So here I am again.. I just don't know if I have what it takes to do it, even if only for the first few months of my babies' lives. Adjusting to life with two new babies will be challenging enough.  Will the fact that I am essentially becoming a cow help anyone at all?  And yet, I can't help but feel like it's wrong for me to not do it just because it's hard, especially knowing all I know and my reasons for deciding to breastfeed in the first place?

Luckily for me I belong to a few wonderful twin groups on facebook and babycenter where there is plenty of REAL support, not just imaginary tales of how easy and wonderful it is. Plus I have friends who have done it, not just family, most of whom have no experience (and still think I'm crazy for even entertaining the idea of breastfeeding twins). I have decided that I am going to at least try. I know the first few weeks are the most important so I would like to at least do it then, especially since that's when we will have the most help at home. I am not committing to six or three months. Not even one month. I am going to take it day by day and I refuse to let myself feel badly if it simply does not work for me. I am completely ok with exclusively pumping so that's always an option as well. All I know is that at the end of the day it's more important that I am happy, sane and able to care for my kids than driving myself nuts making sure they're breastfed. I know there are plenty of people who disagree but we will never see eye to eye and I'm not too worried about that.

Since it will hopefully be another two months before they are here and then a few weeks of trying it all out we won't know how this one turns out for a bit but I will definitely keep you updated.


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