Read Emily’s inspiring story about her journey breastfeeding twins. I love this. Breastfeeding stories are just as important as birth stories!
Before I was pregnant I knew I would try to breastfeed, because my mom had breastfed me, because her mother had breastfed her, and so on. So when I found out I was expecting twins I read books, I read blogs, I went to La Leche League meetings, I met with mothers of multiples who had done it! I thought I can do this, even if only for a day, a week, a month, I could do this. We went to our million appointments, we even spent an afternoon in the NICU to get a feel for it, because there was a good chance one or both babes might have a night or more there. I learned about the pumps and the parts.
And then it was time, we had made it full term and I was 56 inches around, which looked insane on my 59 inch frame. We made our first live parenting decision, a c-section. It was not what I wanted, but it was the safest, and statistically (with a full range of realities to consider) the best plan. It was an amazing birth, my husband didn’t miss thing, and the babies were brought straight to me weighing in at 5lb 9oz and 5lb 14oz. Once I was in recovery we had our beautiful skin to skin and there are no words that can describe having two perfect strong babies wiggling up to suckle on you. I thought we had made it. The hard part is over, they are healthy and big and strong and nursing.
But on day 2 we found out they were not able to nurse properly, it wasn’t latch or fatigue, it was size. My nipple size. My nipples expanded so much they couldn’t hold them and nurse. So I pumped, and my husband finger fed. And I pumped and my husband and my mom finger fed. And I pumped and my husband and my dad finger fed. And I pumped and my husband and I finger fed. Even though my milk was coming in it was not enough, cause you just don’t get as much with the pump, so we got donor milk (thank you our wonderful doula, thank you wonderful moms who donated). So I pumped every 3 hours, I washed the pump parts, I got tubes and syringes ready to finger feed, I helped finger feed, I cleaned up finger feeding supplies, I changed diapers, I wrote down every ounce in and every ounce out, I kissed the girls, I peed, I drank water, and oh shit it’s time to start again. I forgot to eat I forgot to sleep, I was missing my bonding, my holding, my snuggles, and when I got that time I was trying to nurse, and they got so frustrated, and I cried, and they cried, and we all cried. After extreme fatigue and dehydration, for me a time so awful I am still not ready to remember it. We got a rhythm, it was hard, so very hard, for everyone, but routine was good. And I stopped trying so hard to nurse cause it was too hard. But I never stopped trying, and my husband went out and bought gold star stickers, he gave me one every time I tried. This really helped motivate me. At 4 weeks I thought how much longer can I do this, and I decided one more week, at 5 weeks I thought 3 more days, and 3 days later 2 days, and so on. Eventually it was hour to hour I recommitted to breast milk and breastfeeding.
7 weeks we were out with the girls and one of them got fussy, my husband said “just try, just for a minute, if she doesn’t calm down we can go home” I walked to the back of the bar we were at (yes a bar with babies, it was a graduation party in the afternoon). And it worked! It fucking worked! She nursed, and kept nursing, my husband peeked over my shoulder as I walked and rocked her nursing and sobbing. 7 weeks, and she was nursing! I had spent over a week of that time pumping, probably another full week cleaning. She finished and then spit up more then I had ever seen my husband, her sister, her, and I were covered in warm breast milk, she was happy and snuggled in, I cried with joy. Two days later just like that her sister nursed. And my journey was over. I had arrived!
We never looked back, I only used to pump to help with clogged ducts and my oversupply that came and went. I was able to donate hundreds of ounces to other mothers. I exclusively breastfed on demand, now at 20 months my girls still nurse once a day, it is a willful and wild act often. While I know our days nursing are limited and ready to move on when they are I can recall many days I felt a little touched out and I wanted some space, but I also remember how hard I worked to get there, so for now I settle in and try to keep their fingers out of my nose and feet off my head.
I took this photo the first time I tandem nursed the girls. I was at a mommy baby group with moms who had heard my story and seen me struggle, this was also the first time I had nursed in public, everyone in the room cried with me. And when the girls unlatched they all clapped. It was an amazing moment.