Today’s Twinspin is about breast feeding. If that makes you uncomfortable, you may want to mosey on over to another blogosphere. After having two sets of twins and three c-sections there’s little shame left. But I do promise no surprise gawker photos.
I should also say up front – I do not promote the “breast feed or bust” mentality (no pun intended). I’ve bottle fed and breast fed (simultaneously) all of my children. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. This is simply about where we are. And where we’ve come from.
Way back when (oh…8 plus months ago) when Kitty Pillow and I were first introduced, I figured we had maybe six months ahead of us. Six months of commitment. If I was lucky. After that, Kitty Pillow would be BURNED as requested by its previous owner.
But here we are 8 and a half months later and I am still nursing my boys. The love affair is going strong (mostly with my boys – less with the pillow). But I don’t even notice those loud kitties anymore. They just melt into my flesh as I circle the pillow around my jelly stomach and heft my (now 17 pound!) babies onto each side.
I think I’m more amazed than anyone else that we’ve lasted this long. Nursing twins trends more toward utilitarian than utopia. At least at first.
When learning to breast feed two babies you feel, well… FUNCTIONAL. Jostling them, trying to keep one on while the other falls off, getting them positioned just right. Going into complete neck spasms craning down to make sure both your newborns latch right. For the first few weeks you have to have someone hand you the babies, they’re so fragile, bobbily, tiny.
After my first success at getting the boys “on,” the lactation nurse told me, “Okay… now just sit back and relax.”
Relax? Is she kidding? My shoulders are pinned to my ear lobes, my hip flexors and calf muscles are permanently contracted, my knees are trying to kiss my nose in an attempt to keep the babies from rolling off my lap. And I can feel the beginnings of carpal tunnel syndrome in both of my wrists! Relax!!???
But it got better. At least with my boys. All three of us caught the hang of it rather quickly. Soon I had the drill down: Bring the boys to the bed – one at a time. Stack the pillows behind my back three deep. Slide onto the bed. Click Kitty Pillow into place and cinch. Bring one baby into football hold. Bring second baby into football hold (so they are facing each other). Latch babies – one at a time. Slide blankets under their heads for added support. Lean back. Draw knees up so they can nurse at an angle. Let the milk flow. And yes… I actually got to the point where I could… Relax.
It’s been such a sweet bonding experience I kept the late night feed much longer than I did with my other children. And I’m just barely dropping the early morning feed. Because I know these are my last babies. And it makes me, well, a little sad.
The other night Doug was commenting on how long we’ve lasted – our little trio (quartet if you include the pillow). So different from my experience with Ali and Sami.
Sami nursed like a champ. Always ready to eat. Latched beautifully and took full feeds. Ali did a fair amount of crying. Didn’t want to eat on the same schedule as Sami. Cried when I put her to the breast. Didn’t like a bottle from a stranger. I spent countless hours in our bedroom listening to her cry while I tried to relax (there’s that word again) so I could nurse Sami. Try that. Relaxing while your baby screams non-stop just inches from you, and you can do nothing for her! It was a nightmare.
Finally, I gave up on the idea of breast feeding them together. I could tell it wasn’t going to work for Ali. But I wanted her to have my milk. So I decided to pump a bottle for her. And here’s how I managed for the last two months of my breast-feeding career with the girls.
Doug called it the TRIFECTA. (Although he never saw it).
THE absolute, stone-face, legitimate TRUTH is that I nursed Sami on one breast, held the pump to the other breast (with the same hand/arm I was using to cradle Sami) while I bottle fed Ali (who was lying at an angle in the crook of my knee) with my free hand. Can you picture it? Crazy?? Ummmm…. yeah. Like insanely ridiculous! But I did it. For two months!
Do I have pictures? Of course not! If there was any semblance of a human being nearby, I gave them a bottle and put them to work! But most days I was by myself. And doing all of those things separately (feed Sami, pump for Ali, bottle feed Ali) would have taken so much time I determined to consolidate – multi-task to the max – even though it meant pulling off a Ringling Brothers Circus act.
Nursing my boys, however, has been like therapy. Maybe it’s those peace-giving hormones induced by lactation. Maybe it’s the non-guilty excuse of sitting down and doing “nothing” for a while. Maybe it’s the seamless bond between mother and baby. The connection. The touch. The closeness of skin to skin.
Some of the happiest moments of my day are when the three of us are interlocked together. I love how their eyes tease me, smile. The way they grab at my hair, brush their hands over my face, twirl my clothes, reach out for each other. How they weave their fingers together, hold hands. I love feeling their warm cheeks on mine as we finish and I laugh with them, love them, press them tightly onto my shoulder, wishing I could still time, remember the warmth, and forever feel the purity and preciousness of it all.
It’s getting a little raucous these days though. They’re so long I’m five pillows deep now. I have to tie my hair up so they won’t pull it out in clumps. I have red scratch marks on my chest, neck and face if I don’t clip their nails short. And occasionally they stop feeding because one has gouged his brother’s eye, yanked his lip or scratched his face.
Yesterday I felt Gordy pull off only to discover he was sucking on Spencer’s fingers instead! And where were Gordon’s fingers? Plucking away at my lips! It’s a bit crazy. The Kitty Pillow is getting tight. We’re running out of room, outgrowing each other.
But I’m not ready to let go yet. Not quite.
We’ll see how long we can last. Before I have to burn the blessed Kitty Pillow.
Life is funny. These days, instead of burning, I think of bliss.
“Mothers, like babies, need to be shown that they are loved. The behavior of even a tiny baby at the breast is proof positive of that. His greed flatters, his bliss contagious, and his drunken satiety a comic compliment. As he grows older, his love of his mother becomes conscious and intense. The baby stares and stares at his mother’s face as he nurses, looking into her soul. Later he plays at the breast, fiddling with a ribbon or button on his mother’s blouse, patting her lovingly. He smiles out of the corner of his mouth, or puts a hand up to her lips to be kissed, showing her at every feeding how much he loves her. It is quite an experience. Life is not so full of true love that one regards it as commonplace in any circumstances.”
– Karen Pryor, Nursing Your Baby
Any twin moms out there? I’d love to hear from you.