Ups and Downs

Jemma and Zoe are almost three weeks and both are up to a little over six pounds. They are starting to show us their little personalities and are definitely more lively than they were even a week ago. People have told us that babies change up the routine at about two weeks and almost like clockwork, ours did. They are no longer sleeping the predictable three to three and a half hours and they are taking more and more breast milk and formula. We’ve almost graduated from the small two ounce bottles they had given us at the hospital.

So far the girls have had two doctors visits, had a newborn photo session, gone on their first walk in the stroller and have continued to melt our hearts.

This past Sunday we booked a photographer to come to our house to do a newborn photo session. Stephanie recommended feeding the girls before her arrival to ensure that the girls were full and sleepy. We finished feeding the girls about 10 minutes before her arrival, but didn’t have time to get them swaddled and back to sleep. Needless to say, Stephanie got some amazing images despite the girls being wide awake, flailing their little arms and legs and not being very “posable”.

Zoe (left) and Jemma (right)
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Jemma (left) and Zoe (right)

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Zoe (left) and Jemma (right)

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Having twins is so wonderful but is also much more challenging that I had anticipated. I love these girls beyond words, but I’ve had my moments of frustration and tears. I think sleep deprivation plus hormonal changes equals an emotional roller coaster. Much of my stress has come with breastfeeding. Right now we are doing a combination of giving the girls pumped breast milk (I make enough for one baby but not enough for two), formula and alternating breastfeeding with each baby during the day. Zoe was doing great with breastfeeding at the hospital, Jemma only had about a day or two of breastfeeding at the hospital since she was in the NICU and I wasn’t able to get out of bed for about four days but seemed to do pretty well also. Both girls were doing pretty well when we first got home but now both of them scream, cry, push off my breast and have a hard time latching. Jemma has had more difficulty, so earlier this week we saw another lactation consultant (we had been visited by about four different lactation consultants in the hospital) to get some help with her. We changed my position, pillow (goodbye Twin Brest Friend for now) and baby’s position. Jemma did well at the appointment and managed to take in about 20 ccs during a relatively short feeding. However, she is back to getting extremely upset when I try to latch her onto my breast and screams and pushes away. It just breaks my heart to see her so upset that I have to give her a bottle to settle her.

I have a follow-up appointment with the lactation consultant in about a week and a half but I’m going to try to move my appointment up to see her sooner. I’m having such a tough time deciding what is best for myself and the babies. I envisioned breastfeeding until I go back to work in September, but I’m not sure if my babies and I are doing what’s best when everyone gets so upset and stressed. We have to bottle feed, (I’m not making enough milk for both girls), I would be able to do little else with my day if I tried to breastfeed both girls as much as possible each day, and I want the girls to accept a bottle since I will be going back to work after Labor Day.

Here are my dilemmas:

-Do I continue to pump, giving the girls breast milk at every feeding via a bottle and feel content knowing that the are getting breast milk (my main goal)? I would love to give the girls breast milk for at least 6 months.

-Do I continue to try to breast feed and feel upset and sad when the girls are having such difficulty?

-Do I take away some of the bottle feeding, but then spend almost my whole day trying to breastfeed? And again, potentially feel stressed.

I would love to hear your thoughts, especially if you are the parent of multiples. Please do not write comments saying that “breast is best” and that it is the “easiest thing in the world”. For some of you this may be the case, but I know for myself and many other mothers, breastfeeding is very challenging. I want very badly to be able to breastfeed, but I also want to enjoy the bonding time I have with Jemma and Zoe and I don’t want anyone to dread feeding times.

Hubby goes back to work on Monday and that is something else that is weighing on me. We are a great team and have really worked well together to feed the girls, I’ll be taking on the second overnight feeding by myself so that he can get a good night of sleep, hoping and praying that it’ll go as smoothly as possible.

xoxo

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42 thoughts on “Ups and Downs

  1. I wish I had words of wisdom to share but I am only 21 weeks. I hope some people here are able to offer great words of wisdom, I will definitely be following along. You are doing great!

  2. Nursing really is so challenging. I had my struggles with one, so I can’t imagine how much more work it is with 2! Just do the best you can. I’d be happy that they’re getting at least some breast milk but don’t feel the least bit guilty about supplementing with formula. I certainly had to, especially when I went back to work and tried pumping. All that matters is they’re fed. Good luck with everything, and I hope it gets a bit easier as they get older and routines are established. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you so much for writing such a kind and supportive message. Newborns are challenging and rewarding all at the same time. Yes, I am happy that they are getting breast milk, I don’t mind giving them some formula, I just envisioned breastfeeding to be easier than it’s been. It’s hard when expectations are high. πŸ™‚

  3. Pumping is your best option – you’ll have to do it anyway if you’re going back to work in Sept. You won’t be stressed feeding and babbas will still be getting your breast milk. Best of both worlds. I had to abandon bfeeding after my son got confused & started rejecting the bottle even though I wasn’t producing enough milk (due to delay in expressing while he was in NICU – whole other story). My public health nurse told me I’d only produce milk for 6 weeks but here I am at 13 weeks and still going! I give him formula in Dr Brown’s bottles topped up by my milk. I really really wanted to bf exclusively for six months but had to put my disappointment (and many tears) to one side for my son’s sake. I was dreading every feed as bf was so painful. Finally when I got it right, I still needed to top him up with formula. I’m delighted now he’s gotten at least one feed of my milk a day for his first 3 mths. It’s even harder with twins. Pump whatever you can and enjoy your babies is my advice. A stressed mamma is not what babies need. Good luck! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you for writing such a supportive message, it’s nice to hear other stories of Moms who have also had struggles, I feel less alone. Yes, going back to work definitely makes pumping and bottle feeding a must. I guess it’s better that our girls take a bottle so easily since I won’t be home all day every day to breastfeed them. It is nice to know that both you and I can give our babies some breast milk each day. πŸ™‚ Glad you are still going with the breast milk!

  4. Breast feeding is so hard! I’m sure with twins it is twice as hard. (Not to mention twice as painful!) I think that the babies may be having some frustration because of the bottle use. A lot of times babies will prefer the bottle because it’s easier. Bottle use is practically unavoidable though. I know I used them quite a bit in the beginning! If you are still fine with pumping though, I think that may give you the best of both worlds. You can still get breast milk into them since that is important to you but feedings can be more relaxed and easier. Not that you couldn’t still nurse them when they are in the mood…. I know that you will figure it all out and whatever you end up doing will be the best thing for all of you. πŸ™‚

    Btw, I love the pictures! They turned out great. Makes me wish all over again that I would have gotten pictures done of Tru when he was a newborn.

    • Thank you, I definitely think our girls prefer the bottles because they are consistent and the milk flows easily from them. I think I could encourage more breastfeeding if I bottle fed less, but it’s just not really feasible with two. The girls are in the mood for breastfeeding occasionally, so maybe I should go with the flow and enjoy that time. You do a great job of taking lots of pics of Tru, you could plan newborn pics for your bun in the oven and Tru can be “big brother” in them. πŸ™‚

  5. Hi there, I am the mom of an 11-week old and I understand what you’re going through, at least partially! Breast feeling is so hard, and for me it was anything but natural in the beginning…There’s absolutely nothing wrong with supplementing or formula feeding. If it’s your goal or desire to give the girls breast milk, I think continuing to pump is a good idea. Pumping is hard work too! Don’t beat yourself up if you cannot continue to breast feed! Especially if it’s frustrating for all involved. Although I am breastfeeding my baby, sometimes I wish I didn’t have to always be home or the only one to be able to feed my baby! Giving your babies bottles (whether it’s formula or breast milk) gives others the chance to feed the babies and give you a break!
    It’s going to be so hard on you when your hubby goes to work…trust me I had a hard time, and I only have one! But trust me when I say it does get better… And I’m only a few weeks ahead of you. Hang in there, you’re doing great!

    • Thank you so much for your supportive words. I really do want to make sure I give the girls breast milk and besides taking the time to do it, pumping hasn’t been too difficult or painful for me. So, like you said, pumping and giving the girls breast milk may be the best of both worlds. I think breastfeeding is nice when we will be out and about so that we don’t have to worry about bottles, etc. I’m sure I’ll have some challenges when my husband goes back to work but it’s nice to hear that it gets better. πŸ™‚

  6. Good Luck, it is so hard. Do what is least stressful for you, the girls will be fine with whatever you do as long as it’s from you. πŸ™‚

  7. Babies are hard. Breastfeeding is hard. Sleep deprivation is horrendous. And you get to deal with all of it x2! You need to do what is best for you and those babies, and right now that just amounts to eating. The first six weeks I breastfed my son were exhausting and frustrating, and while I’m glad I stuck with it and it DID get easier, it is not for everyone — and I feel like especially with twins, if you’re already supplementing and it’s easier for you to pump, and they take bottles well, then just go for it.

    • Thank you, yes, everything times two is very tiring and challenging. My husband goes back to work tomorrow, so I think it’s going to get challenging on a whole new level soon. Thanks for your message, it’s nice to know that we aren’t alone in this whole process. I’m hoping that things will continue to get a little easier with time.

      • I was a wreck the day my husband went back to work, and then we all survived, and the next thing I knew it was just a regular day! Good luck!

      • My husband’s first day back at work was rough but last night went well (me feeding the twins solo) and I’m hoping today will be a good day. It’s nice to hear that with time things get easier. πŸ™‚

  8. Here’s how I see it. Is breast milk ideal? Of course it is. Is fighting to get your kids to nurse ideal? Of course not. So if you can meet somewhere in the middle, then great. If you can’t and you solely end up using formula, then great. The end result needs to be happy babies AND a happy mom! Nursing one baby is hard (both of my boys took 8 weeks to catch on), nursing two has to be exponentially more difficult.

    I would just pump if I were you. The LLL folks out there will hate me for saying it, but I would pump given your situation. And I don’t say that lightly… I’m sitting here nursing my 13 month old. You don’t have time to nurse all day!

    Beautiful photos!!!!

    • I say pump if you can but really it’s not worth stressing over. What I did was give pumped breast milk in the bottle first and then the formula after (in the same feeding). I didn’t have a lot of breast milk so I wanted them to get every single drop of that (I would rather they not drink all the formula if for some reason they weren’t very hungry). And being such a control freak, I liked that with the bottle I knew exactly how much they drank.

      • Thank you Kristin, pumping is actually going pretty well for me, I don’t make enough to give exclusively breast milk, but enough so that the girls each get some breast milk at each feeding. And you’re right, it’s nice to see how much the girls are drinking. Can’t wait for you all to meet them!

    • Thank you Courtney for your supportive message. Pumping is going pretty well for me, I’m not making enough milk to give breast milk exclusively, but enough to give Jemma and Zoe some breast milk at each feeding and supplementing with formula. I’m going to have to pump when I go back to work, so I’m trying not to get too hung up on breastfeeding. Sometimes the girls are into it, so I’m trying to take advantage of those times. Yes, happy babies and happy Mom for sure! πŸ™‚

  9. Good luck to you, my little guy did the same – great at first then screaming and pushing away. I pumped for 5 weeks and supplemented with formula. Ended up being a milk protein allergy. My twins will be 6 months in 2 weeks.

  10. After I chatted with you yesterday, I remembered how Torin used to do that too…-seem to get fussy and overstimulated and not latch on. We had to swaddle him tight to get him focused on nursing. Then he’d fall asleep! So I’d switch him to the other side to keep him awake or gently tug him away to make him start sucking again. After a while (like a month or so…), I’d swaddle him to start and then slowly take him out of the swaddle as he settled into the nursing session. After 6-8 weeks, he was finished with the swaddling. But I hear some babies need it for 3 months…and yours were a month early, so that would mean 4 months for you guys! Hope that helps. πŸ™‚ Anyone who says nursing is easy has amnesia about the beginning. It’s rough to start. But it DOES get easier. Just not as fast as you’d think.

    • Thank you so much for the cookies and I’m totally going to try swaddling the girls, they really flail their arms all about, so swaddling may help. I’m hoping they’ll continue to improve with the breastfeeding. Thanks for the advice, can’t wait to see you all again soon. xoxo

  11. It sounds like you are doing great. You are still very early into the breastfeeding and all three of you are still learning. I had a really really hard time at first. My daughter was in the nicu for almost three weeks, so she was lazy and used to the bottle. I got her to start bfing around 7 weeks. I ended up with over supply and a forceful letdown with caused my milk to shoot into her mouth way too fast. She was cry and scream and push away too. I almost gave up, but I pushed on. I ended up being able to bf for 9.5 months and only stopped after tooth #6 appeared (ouch! ). If you think you can, keep trying. Your milk supply is still adjusting and once you all get the hang of things, you may be able to produce enough for both. However, if it becomes so stressful that you feel you aren’t getting everything out of this experience as you can, then stop. Your babies will be fine if they are ff too! Or you can even look into getting donated bm! I donated some of mine to a friend who adopted. There are people out there with enough for other babies. I wish you the best of luck and peace with whatever decision you make.

    • Thank you for the message, it’s good to know that things still could change and make the breastfeeding a bit easier. I worried about one of our girls who did spend some time in the NICU and couldn’t breastfeed while we were all at the hospital. I think I may have a forceful letdown on one side, the girls both do not like my L side, I’ve heard a nipple shield can help. I’m going to continue to try and hope that it’ll improve. πŸ™‚

  12. Hi, first time commenting, so first of all, congratulations!
    I was lucky to be able to breastfeed my two boys (not twins) AND enjoy it, but the beginning was hard, and the entire process is simple, easy and natural only after one gets the hang of it, which may mean months. I love breastfeeding, but I did not have to go back to work, I was able to deal with sleep deprivation at home and offer the breast whenever needed.
    In your place, and knowing what I know now, I would keep pumping for a while, and then I would stop when I had to return to work. If. It is a massive pain to pump, as you know. And the weirdest thing is that even though it very much bothers you right now, in one year it will matter less, and in two you will not care a flying fig for it. Especially since you have to go back to work, be kind to yourself, and do not put any more pressure on yourself. If the rest of the world tries to, let it. The rest of the world does not have to live your life, you do. Do you ever pick someone to socialise with because they were born vaginally and were breastfed for at least six months? I highly doubt it. πŸ™‚ the same will apply to your girls. Having been breatsfed never was and never will be a criteria that distinguishes people. And when I meet other mums, I never ask them if they breastfed or how they have given birth. Those topics never come up. It may matter to the mum personally, but not to someone else.
    This time you have with your girls, it is precious and it flies away too soon (hated this clichΓ©, always, especially now, when it turned to be true). I know the pressure and the emotional drama involved, but don’t give in to it. I promise you, the breastfeeding issue will not be an issue forever. It will so no matter in a couple of years. You might as well take advantage of this knowledge and let it not matter now, when your attention is needed elsewhere. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you so much for your kind message. You’re right, breastfeeding seems so important right now, but in the big scheme of life this time is fleeting. Right now the pumping is going fine, so I’ll stick with it for as long as I can so that I know the girls are at least getting some breast milk and I don’t feel bad supplementing with formlula. Thanks for commenting! πŸ™‚

  13. Would you consider a nursing holiday? It’s basically 24 hours in bed with your babies—no pumping, no pacifiers, no bottles. Breast feeding is all about supply and demand, the more you let them nurse the more milk your body will make. You said several times that you can not make enough for two babies, how did you come to that diagnosis?
    Believe in your body—you can make enough milk for twins! I’m 105 pounds, with 32A breasts and I nursed my twin boys, even though I was positive that I could NOT make enough milk for two. When I pumped there was only like 2 ounces and it was so frustrating!! But my lactation consultant said that even though I was doing everything “right” while pumping (hospital grade pump, photo of my babies nearby, letdown happening) I just wouldn’t get as much pumping as compared to having two greedy little boys at the breast πŸ™‚
    I wish you luck!

    • I hadn’t heard of a nursing holiday, but maybe I should give it a go. I guess I made the diagnosis that I’m not making enough milk b/c my pumped milk adds up to about half as much as the girls are consuming. It’s great that you were making enough for your boys! I hope I can someday do the same. πŸ™‚

      • I was going to suggest this same thing. I never get as much pumping (some ppl just don’t respond well to the pump) but the baby was fine on the breast. I’m sure it’s different with 2 (and double the stress!) but like the commenter above, my neighbor breastfed twins and she was also probably 100# and a 32a. It IS possible. I don’t want you to feel bad if you need to / want to supplement for your sanity – I just wanted to give you support that maybe it is more possible than you’re thinking to get your supply amped up for 2. Check out this post about the lactation curve – you might find it helpful. http://mompharmd.blogspot.com/2013/09/pumping-part-2-on-road-again.html

  14. The girls are beautiful!!!

    I think you are doing a fantastic job and should continue pumping. Also give yourself And the girls 6-8 weeks to settle with breastfeeding. If it’s still hard (or even earlier) don’t fret about formula. Breastfeeding is tough and no one prepares you for it. The first six weeks were absolute madness and I can’t tell you how many time I thought about formula (for my sake and not the baby’s). I can’t even imagine how it must be with twins!for me he guilt about admitting it’s hard was such a heavy burden for me. The moment I admitted that to myself, things got better. I always kept formula in the house in case my flow went off or if I changed my mind about one feed at night. But somehow we managed…and
    Our little one is over six months now.

    Good luck and take care. Xxx

    • Thank you for your supportive message, the girls aren’t even full term yet, so I’m hoping that the breastfeeding will get easier. They have times when they are in the mood for it, so I’m just trying to take advantage of those times. It’s nice to hear from Moms who have been down the same road.

  15. you know about all my struggles with this issue. I was happy to just give P the little bit of pumped milk that I could everyday along with formula. honestly, I think happy mom=happy kids. when I gave up worrying about it, I felt such a huge relief. you know what is best for you and your girls and I know you’ll do just that!

  16. Hello! First of all congratulations on your new babies! I am a new mom and my breast feeding experience was extremely stressful and I remember crying almost everyday for a week at least (I didn’t understand why something that was supposed to be so natural was so difficult for me: cracked nipples, low milk production, unhappy and flustered baby). It didn’t help that my lactation consultant stressed me out even more by telling me that I wouldn’t produce enough milk since my supply was so low. I was determined to prove her wrong, and I started pumping at least 10 times a day to increase my supply (breast feeding is definitely all about supply and demand). I exclusively pump now because my son prefers the flow of the bottle and his teeth came in at 4 months! Although, I don’t get the mommy and baby bonding time because I pump exclusively, I am happy that I am able to provide him with my breast milk. I appreciate the fact that my husband can help feed my son while I pump (bonding time with papa!)

    Keep up the great work and regardless of what you decide, it will be the best for your babies. Take care!

    • Thank you for sharing your own experience. BF has been quite stressful for me and sometimes I think that pumping exclusively may be the way to go, I just haven’t been ready to give up yet. I think one can still bond with the baby/babies even if they aren’t BF, we still snuggle the girls. I’m sure you and your son had lots of bonding time! xoxo

  17. You’re doing great, Nikki! So wonderful those girls are even getting some breast milk. Breast feeding was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done in my life. I kept saying that I didn’t produce enough milk for CC. In reality, that’s not true. I just didn’t start off correctly. I went straight to pumping because breast feeding hurt. We weren’t able to get the latch down. I pumped ten times a day, only getting 2 ounces a pump. It was so frustrating. One time I spilled it and sobbed. What a wreck. Anyway, as someone mentioned above, a nursing day or days and nursing on demand is the way to really get your milk to come in fully. That means being in bed or on the couch ALL DAY nursing whenever the baby or in your case, babies, want. At the time I thought that was ridiculous. I have things to do, people to see. I don’t have time to have a nursing holiday. Looking back I wish I would have just taken it easy. Put a stop on visitors, let my house be a mess and just focus on feeding.

    Your milk supply is still establishing itself and around six weeks is when it all starts coming together. Their latch improves and they become way more efficient at meal times. I only ended up doing one feed on the breast a day, in the morning when CC would wake up, and then pumping the rest of the feeds. You have the most milk in the AM because your milk producing hormones are the highest between 2-5am (roughly). I was able to feed CC and still pump some for the next feed. I supplemented six ounces of formula a day. Looking back at pictures, she didn’t need that extra six ounces. I was just worried about her sleeping at night so I would load her up. It didn’t work though, she still woke up ever 2-3 hours.

    ANYWAY, only passing on information, certainly not encouraging one way over the other. I just wished I had a bit more info in the beginning when all was said and done. It’s crazy because breast feeding was my life for those seven months. Now? I hardly think about it at all. They’ll thrive because your home is filled with love, that’s what they need most. To feel secure and loved.

    Text me anytime if you need to vent or ask any questions about my experience. Hugs to all of you!

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