Thursday, December 11, 2008

Feeding time at the zoo

I haven't posted much about breastfeeding. Mostly because there isn't much to post. It's gone reasonably well. Sure, there are twin moms out there who have had even more success. Hats off to them! But what I've settled into mostly works for me.

I never breastfed exclusively. Almost, but never exclusively. In the beginning I would supplement with maybe an ounce or two here and there (mostly with Sweet Potato), nothing much. By the time the stickies were a bit older, I would supplement with a bottle at night, but breastfed the rest of the day. Then, not too long after I went back to work, I was almost exclusively pumping and bottle feeding. You see, I would breastfeed both babies in the morning--which was my absolute favorite time of day with them--but then would pump and bottle feed for the rest of the day.

Frankly, it was just easier. I was at work all day, so had no choice then. And, when I got home, trying to breastfeed both of them before bed was something I had long since stopped--it was too complicated and too tenuous. I wanted to make sure they both got great feeds before bed, and depending on the last time I pumped or fed, my supply at night wasn't enough to satiate both. (They stickies have been eating 8-10 ounces at a sitting for a while. I generally pump 6-8 ounces at a sitting, which is only enough to satiate one, and barely that.)

But, by pumping all day, including two to three times after they go to bed, I've been able to maintain a supply that gets them 75-90% of what they eat during the day, depending on the day. (The days either one goes on a tear, they get more formula.)

I'm pretty proud of what I've done so far. The stickies will be 9 months old next week and are thriving. I take some small amount of pride in the fact that that might have something to do with getting so much breast milk for so long. I'm not saying that they wouldn't be doing great without it, and I am making NO judgment call on anyone who doesn't, particularly because I didn't suffer through supply or latching issues, or any other of the myriad things that would have definitely caused me to stop earlier. Rather, I'm just proud that, because it's been relatively easy, I've kept it going.

But, as you might expect, it's getting tough. Sweet Potato has already weaned himself. He stopped showing any interest in the morning breastfeed several weeks ago. I was adamant about NOT fighting to breastfeed. That doesn't feel good to either of us. So, I let him wean himself and we exclusively bottle feed him (mostly breast milk).

Monkey Girl and I still really enjoy our morning feed, though. It's a really special mother-daughter time that I know I'll treasure forever. But, I fear that it, too, might be close to coming to an end. I worry. There have been a couple of days this week when I had to pump before she got up and couldn't feed. I worry that too many of those days will lead her to wean herself, too. Then I'll have nothing. I'll be exclusively pumping. I'm not ready for that.

I realize that it's still really good for them (to pump and feed breast milk). But selfishly, I want to maintain that morning feed for as long as I can. It's the last real physical attachment I have to either of the stickies at this point and I'm not ready to give that up.

You see, among other things, giving it up would be like a larger symbol of leaving the baby stage. Something that I'm at once both really excited and sad for. Excited because they get more and more fun every day. Sad because this has been such a magical and wonderful stage and I really can't believe it's coming to a close. I want to savor every last second; to sip it slowly like a fine wine because, given our history and the fact that since we were blessed with twins, I can't see going down the treatment road again if the FET doesn't work, I don't really know if we'll be lucky enough to have another.

And so tomorrow, I'm going to do everything in my power to breastfeed Monkey Girl. And I'm going to hope she lingers a little longer than usual. I'm going to treasure every touch of her hand on my skin and on my face. I'm going to drink in her beautiful scent and I'm going to savor the way she looks up at me with her beautiful big blue eyes.

And I'm going to hope that time slows down, just this once.


Mrs. Piggy said...

I was just talking to my husband about this today. My babies are 6 mo, and I am close to finishing up the last of the freezer BM...and it makes me incredibly sad. Not that they are getting the last of BM, but that its the END of something. If I do not have any more kids, I will NEVER experience the whole breastfeeding/pumping experience. I hated pumping, so bad, so so bad...but i actually sorta miss it!
I just miss that "era" i hard as it was...
I love seeing my babies grow and do new things, but for every phase that passes, I get so depressed about it! Good job on BF for 9 months, that is amazing.

Coffeegrl said...

Ok, making me cry. So sweet. I hope you both enjoy however many special moments you still have.

Ms. Planner said...

Wonderful post. I know what you mean about the special bonding with a certain feed. I don't even want to think about giving it up right now. It makes me cry.

And GOOD WORK momma. It takes a lot of persistence to go the distance with breastfeeding twins and being a working mom who has to pump. You are my hero!

anna said...

You're awesome! I can't believe you've given your babes so much breast milk, requiring so much effort from you! I gave up on pumping during my work day about a month ago and only have the first feeding in the morning left. My supply is already starting to dwindle for that last feed so I know that by the time my babes turn 9 months old, they'll be fully weaned, and that also makes me really sad. Who knows what the future will bring us in terms of more babies to breast feed, but what's important is that we've given our all to our twins now, and they're healthier and better for it... good job!

Sarah said...

i know exactly what you mean! i'm going to go have a smilecry now...