Thursday, February 25, 2010

You asked, I answer (Part III)

Mrs. Gamgee asked what my strongest cravings have been during this pregnancy, and conversely, what I am hoping to enjoy after the birth that I haven't been able to handle the last few months? You know, I haven't had a lot of cravings with either of my pregnancies. If I did, it was in the first trimester, and it was more of a moment-by-moment preference. Like when it came to a meal or a snack, only one specific thing would do, but it wasn't anything consistent. My stomach was ruled more by food aversions than cravings. The strangest thing ever was that I didn't want chocolate -- and I always want chocolate, it's one of the most beautiful and perfect creations on this planet. But my Tillamook Mudslide ice cream sat in the freezer, growing crystals. CRYSTALS, FOR GOD SAKES! It was heartbreaking. My tastes are basically back to normal now, although I still can't stomach the delicious eggrolls from my favorite teriyaki restaurant. I look forward to eating those again with our weekly Friday carryout, as well as all of the myriad of yummy desserts I am denied because of the gestational diabetes.

My IRL friend Sarah (who is welcome to come visit any time! although I doubt it will feel like "personal time away" lol) asked:

1) Did you get a twin breastfeeding pillow? What do they recommend - feeding them both at once, getting them on an immediate schedule? Can you do it on demand like a singleton or will you be feeding all day long? I didn't get a twin nursing pillow, although I've seen this one. From what I've heard, nursing both twins at the same time can be quite a challenge and isn't necessarily sustainable as they get bigger, so I'm hesitant to invest in more than my trusty old boppy pillow. (Edited: I just ordered the pillow on the advice of Carrie and MissMVK and mamas on the twin forum.) I've read different recommendations on feeding schedules (or lack thereof) with twins, and I'd love to hear from any twin nursing mamas out there on any of these issues (Kristi? Gena? Pufferfish? Jamie? Carrie? Bueller?). On demand is ideal for the kiddos, of course, and I'll do my best. But there comes a point where you can't function being awake 24 hours a day, and I'd rather not end up wandering the neighborhood in my robe in a daze, promising to take everyone to Heaven in my spaceship. I'm hoping at night to wake one baby to eat right after the other baby wakes to eat, in the hope that I could actually sleep for a full hour at a time. We'll see how that goes.

2) Will you put all three kids in matching outfits, just the twins, or forget it. Nothing like a couple in matching flannel (yikes!), why not the kids? As of now, I don't even think we have any outfits for them that are the same. Coordinating can be cute -- like the onesies that come on the same hanger at Carters. I think we'll just be lucky if they make it out of their jammies on any given day (diaper explosions notwithstanding, of course). In the long run, I'll let them decide if they want to match... but unless it's a holiday and I want them all in complementary colors, I can't see myself taking the initiative on that effort. Although this family looks pretty darn happy about it, and even the dog can participate...

3) Will your mama stay with you for awhile when the babies are born? Thank goodness, yes! She said she will stay with us until the end of April... I just pray we don't drive her crazy before then. We are relying on Bean for this, as it's his cuteness and complete attachment to his grandma that's clinching her stay for us now.

4) How is DH handling all this? Would he mind posting on your blog about his perspective of bedrest and the thought of having twins etc? His fears and thrills?

His perspective on bedrest: "It's stressful. There is constantly something that needs to be done. I feel like I am always behind. And I have been on edge every day for the past 7 1/2 weeks worrying that the babies could come any second. And I haven't been able to see Sunny very much, either, which is hard."

His fears about having the twins: "Making sure Bean gets taken care of and isn't overly stressed and neglected. And then in general, our ability to handle double, maybe even triple the effort of having an infant. And how I'll handle the sleepless nights given my previous... difficulties with that." (Me: So you aren't worried about your wife being overwhelmed, staying home with all three of them all day?) "Yes, very much so, I'm worried about that. But mostly I'm worried about the pooch. *laughs* But no honestly I do worry about her, too."

What he is most excited about: "I really look forward to the day when I come home from work and have three happy boys who are excited to see their dad. Wrestling with them, playing with them. And I think Sunny will be super cute surrounded by her men, being taken care of by her men, even when they are tiny men. That'll be hilarious, won't it? Three little dudes, strutting around saying 'Football, mom. Football!'"

On whether he'd write a blog entry: "ME?! Yeah... I don't think I'll get around to posting any time soon." *laughs*

5) Besides sugar and carbs, what would be the number one thing you would be so happy for after the babies are born? A haircut, someone to clean your house, a massage, a new razor? What I am looking forward to most (even more than the desserts!) is playing with Bean again. Even though I've been lucky enough to spend most of my bedrest at home so far, I still miss out on so much being stuck in my bedroom all day. He comes up to visit a lot and sits on my bed with me, but I have to remain laying down so I'm very limited. I can hardly believe the things he's been doing and saying lately, which I hear about from my Mom and DH, and I'm so excited to be a part of that again. Otherwise, yes, I am looking forward to getting a haircut, visiting the dentist, putting on make-up, styling my hair, wearing clothes that aren't men's XL t-shirts, and using a real razor instead of the electric one. (Although it is kinda fun sometimes, like shearing a sheep!) With my Mom living with us, our house has never been cleaner. But yes please to the massage, and a mani/pedi while we're at it.

E asked what troubles I had with breastfeeding Bean. When I was pregnant the first time, many of my friends told me how breastfeeding was more difficult than they expected. I appreciated the warning, so I made sure that I attended the BFing class at our birth center. I also read a bit about it, and naively thought that just knowing that BFing could be hard would somehow help me overcome the difficulties. HA!

We were off to a bad start immediately. I had a traumatic birth experience that ended in a C-section at 10:30 pm. I had a jaundiced, sleepy newborn and for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to get him latched correctly. Meanwhile he cried and cried! The nurses tried to help, but they were not BFing experts by any means. The birth center did have two Lactation Consultants (LCs) on staff, but they had limited hours, and I was unlucky enough only to work with the mean, judge-y one while I was still in the hospital. She made me feel worse about myself! A couple of days later, in the dead of night when DH and I were completely overwhelmed, one of the nurses offered to help me use a supplemental nursing system (SNS) to feed Bean some formula, and I readily agreed. I wasn't happy about it, but we were relieved that Bean finally seemed satisfied.

We went home, and I was still optimistic that things would get better. But they didn't. The horrible latch problems endured, and I didn't realize my poor guy was getting NOTHING from the breast. We were giving him formula in between tries. I made a decision at that point that I was going to exclusively breastfeed this child, no matter what it took. I knew I could do it because I had nothing else to focus on but feeding one baby (honestly if the twins had come first, I doubt I would have overcome our problems) and my infertility is not hormone-related so there were no medical issues that would prevent success.

I made an appointment to meet with the other wonderful, supportive LC at the birth center and she helped get us on track. She said Bean had a weak suck, showed me what his latch should look like, and pointed out the signs that he was sucking and swallowing appropriately. We came up with a plan to increase my supply so I could gradually decrease the formula. (Because he hadn't been getting anything, my supply was ridiculously low at that point. No demand, no supply! Some people told me to completely ditch the formula immediately, but I wasn't comfortable doing that, and my LC didn't advise it because of my low supply and Bean's jaundice.) I loaded up on fenugreek, oatmeal, etc. I fed him on demand, as much as possible. Sometimes through an entire movie! And after he would get everything he could from me, I would pump each side for 20 minutes, even in the middle of the night. We rented a hospital grade pump to help with this, and it was worth it's weight in gold! We soon could use what I pumped to supplement our feedings, instead of formula.

I can't overstate how difficult it was for me to establish our nursing relationship. I was feeding him and pumping around the clock, I was exhausted! I cried about this a lot. During their visit, my parents were worried about me and struggled to understand why I wouldn't let allow them to give Bean a bottle so I could sleep through a feeding. But finally my efforts paid off -- my supply was established and I could return the pump.

My advice to anyone who plans to breastfeed is to have a support system in place for after the baby comes. It is very hard to prepare in advance for staring down at a screaming newborn who won't latch, or whatever problem you may have. Many women don't have any issues at all, nursing is easy as pie. (Mmmmmm... pie.) Hopefully you'll be one of those women! But for the rest of us, we need to know where to go for education and support. Find an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) who will come to your hospital or home. Bookmark Find a supportive breastfeeding forum. I can't tell you what it meant to me, having the encouragement of women who had been-there-done-that, telling me that I would get past this and it would get easier. They were so right!

In the beginning, I honestly really hated breastfeeding. Obviously it was hard for me, but I knew it was best for Bean, and I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. By three months, I thought it was a lot of work but not so horrible. By six months, it was a lot less work but I was still ambivalent. By twelve months, my final long-term goal, I absolutely loved it. He was so busy by then and nursing much less, but it was our special quiet mommy-son time. A connection he did not have with anyone else in the world. I decided to let him self-wean, which he did when I was about 2 months pregnant with the twins. He was 18 months old.



Coffeegrl said...

Oh my dear. Peanut didn't have a weak suck or poor latch as far as the lactation consultants could tell....and yet. My n*pples were raw and chapped and unbearably uncomfortable from weeks 2-5 and I nearly gave up the whole thing as too painful to endure. But luckily with the help of the wonderful LCs I had, and a lot of reliance on n*pple shields, we prevailed and by sometime around month 2 or 3 it became comfortable and quite rewarding for both of us (finally!). It is so much more delicate and complex a process than you can ever really explain to someone who has never done it. Oh, and I used religiously (as recommended by one of my LCs). Great advice!!!

E said...

Thanks for that. This is one thing I am super worried about. My son wouldn't latch on at all at first and it seemed like I had nothing to give him and all he would do is cry. Finally as I was cracked, sore, and bleeding and my child hadn't peed in almost 24 hours, I gave up.

The nurses weren't helping me and I was scared to death that he was going to dehydrate.

I am really hoping that this time is easier.

Mary said...

So you know I chose not to breastfeed after 6 weeks but I just wanted to chime in with a +1 on the keeping them on the same feeding schedule. I always woke up one at night when the other ate and during the day I would try to feed them within a half hour of each other, it was the only way to keep straight who ate what when. I also color coded their bottles to keep it straight. I have heard of women feeding the same baby from the same boob all the time which makes good sense to me, I really struggled to remember who ate from which side last, I tried to write it all down but it just became too much. My advice do anything that makes it easier on you and know that the newborn phase while feels like it lasts forever is SOO short in comparison to all the good stuff coming and you WILL get through it and it will all be worth it.

Sarah said...

Thanks for the answers! Reading your breastfeeding story gave me horrible flashbacks. Halle was challenging with the latch early on, but George was horrible because of jaundice. They said in the hospital that his temp was low so I couldn't strip the sleepy baby to nurse. So he didn't nurse as often as he should have...he slept, the jaundice got worse, he slept more and I just couldn't get him to wake up to eat thus creating the viscious cycle of jaundice. We had to go to the doctor almost every day for 1.5 weeks. I went to a lactation consultant who was wonderful, but I cried and cried doing it on my own (hubs was with Halle). We did the whole breastfeed and stimulate baby, pump 15 minutes, and then finger feed formula or pumped milk after all that. Yeah, finger feed with a suringe because he wouldn't take a bottle. The whole thing took 45 min every three hours. Oh, girl, I so hear your pain!!!! It was horrible, I seriously wondered what the heck I got myself into even though I breastfeed Halle until she was 14 months. But after two weeks...we were right where we were supposed to be and George thrived.

Sarah said...

Sorry, typing too much here, but to comment on DH's narrative (thanks by the way! it was good and interesting!), Bean will be fine through all this. I found that getting the older child really involved "helping" (even though it will take you twice as long) and making sure your family and friends pay extra special attention to him vs. just the babies, really helped. I worried that I messed up our daughter's life by giving her a sibling, but that was just post pregnancy hormone emotions. Even though my love is spread between two kiddos, both she and her brother are evened out because of the love they get from each other. They have so much fun together - big giggle fests. The early days can be rough, but your children will thank you for growing your family when they get older. Halle is already asking for more babies so obviously she's okay with it all. ;)

Kristina P. said...

I had no idea there WERE breastfeeding pillows! I am so ignorant.

Kate said...

BF scares me a little too, so thanks for the honest info on your struggles and how you got through them. I'm hoping it'll be ok for me, and that the PCO won't have too much of an effect on my supply. We'll soon find out, and I'll give it my best shot!

Lavender Luz said...

I always loved my mom (except for a brief spell between my ages of 13 and 22), but the period after my 2nd child was born was when I fell in LOVE WITH HER.

Yay for your mom, and for Bean's enchantment of her.

Expectant Duck said...

It is funny, my idea of a nightmare scenerio would be my mother visiting to "help". Sounds like you are blessed with a great mom (mine on the other hand woudl be more mantanance then the babies combined!). HAve to look into the BF pillow, I do plan on buying a twin pillow, and I already have a lactation consultant (even without the babies when you induce lactation the medical system is already in there all over the situation).
I too have no intention of matching clothes (and have read lots of books that say matching clothes for twins is not such a great idea - but everyone has their own thing).

Expectant Duck said...

one more thing - you are now 34 weeks and 2 days!!!! way to go!

Chad and Gena said...

As always I love reading your post. Regarding breastfeeding....Yes 100% agree when on wakes, wake the other. We never had issues getting them back to sleep and the odd night that we wouldn't wake the other we were up in an hour feeding them anyway. We were fairly luck as they started giving us at least one 4-5 hour stretch at about 3-4 weeks. I am a little time warped as it is hard to remember exactly where we were and when, it seems forever ago even though it has been less than a year. I had some of the same struggles you did w/ds. He wouldn't latch at the hospital after several attempts we tried him w/a nipple shield and voila he latched. Which was a huge relief until about 2 months into it when I finally caught on to the fact that although he was getting milk he wasn't very efficient, therefore my supply suffered a bit. Which explained why he would nurse anywhere from 45-60 min at a time and still be hungry. Throw in a bout of Thrush at about 6 week, very frustrating, I wanted to quit everyday for the first 3 or 4 months. Still not sure why I didn't give up.

Tandem feeding didn't really work for us because of using the nipple shield it took two hands to get them latched. The times that I would get them both latched for tandem feeding...they would pop off and in attempt to help them re-latch the other would pop off, it was a mess and not worth the was much easier for me to feed them one at a time. I would have milk leaking everywhere...two squirmy babies, ugh anyway, it just didn't work LOL

As far as feeding schedule I didn't have a set schedule until they were 5 months old and started napping consistently. I fed every 2-3 hours or on demand. I would feed every 2 hours unless they were sleeping, I would not wake them until we were at 3 hours from last feeding. However, if they were hungry before 2 hours was up, I would feed them. DS rarely made it 2 hours during the day but he slept great at night so I guess it was a good trade off. At night we fed on the first baby to wakes demand. It was always ds who woke up, so we would feed him and then wake dd. and feed her. My husband was a huge help...when they woke he would get up and change their diaper and then bring them to me and because feedings were still taking about 30-45 min at this time he would nap while I was feeding, then as I was finishing up w/#1 he would go get #2 change them and bring them to me and get #1 back to sleep. DD nursed much shorter usually between 15-25 min. Thankfully they weren't both 45 min nursers, I don't think I would have survived.
I introduced bottles at 3.5 weeks and we always gave bottles at bed time. My supply really seemed to be depleted by the end of the day and ds would just cry and cry so I finally tried offering a bottle at bedtime and it made a huge difference. I started pumping for that feeding and eventually was able to replace the bedtime bottle of formula w/breast milk. Doing a bottle feeding at bedtime was huge because other people could help w/the feedings and when it was just dh and I we could feed the babies at the same time.

If you haven't already stumbled across it there is a great breastfeeding form at I went there constantly for support and info. I also think the book Mothering Multiples has a ton of great info regarding nursing twins.

Kristi said...

I used my boppy exclusively. I considered ordering the twin nursing pillow, but ended up not doing it.

My twins were 34-weekers, and as a result, tiny. However, I was able to tandem feed them only for two or three months. After that, it was just too awkward and they were too big, and I felt like I needed 8hands to get them into position (and then to keep them in position).

I agree with waking one up to nurse when the other is up (or after the first riser is done). It is the ONLY way you will get any kind of sleep.

I fed them on-demand for a few months, but tried to get them on a nursing schedule as soon as I could. Of course, my twins both had colic---for six months. Sticking a boob in their mouthes was sometimes the only thing that quieted them down, and so I did that often. Your twins will not have colic. They will be good sleepers. And nursing will go swimmingly for you this time around. You've earned good babies after all you've been through!