Saturday, September 26, 2009

Breastfeeding Twins... How-To (for those who even care?)

This is one of those posts that I may be writing mostly for me. And for that one other mom out there who wants to nurse her twins. Otherwise, probably pretty boring especially since there are no nudie pictures here to entertain my possibly one guy reader, if there are that many.

True, some of this probably applies to singletons. Actually, I should probably retitle the post, "How I breastfeed MY twins" to be totally accurate. And if you don't want to take any of my advice, no hard feelings! Admittedly, 90% of what I've figured out about what works for us has come from me not taking the advice of many, many other people. Okay, so probably not "many, many" as I have found a relative dearth of (useful) information out there about nursing multiples.

Like my earlier post about grocery shopping, I am no super mom. I'm not preachy; it might not be your thing to nurse some babies, or even A baby, and that's totally fine It is mine, though. There wasn't any doubt in my mind that I was going to nurse the girls. And therein probably lies most of our success (I say "our" for a reason; we'll get there) as I am the most stubborn person I've ever met. (And have I mentioned "cheap"? I balk at the idea of buying formula for my two piggie-pies!) I guess a certain amount of laziness comes into it as well. I hate feeding bottles for SO many reasons, not the least of which is preparation, clean-up and so on. I'd rather suffer through mastitis or leakiness to avoid spending extra time in the kitchen. I'd SO much prefer to sit on the couch and zone out while I feed the kids or have both my hands free to eat my sandwich at the same time and so on and so forth.

But never mind all of that, I'm not trying to justify my... ahem, our decision. Just offer some insight into how it's done.

It's not going to be a huge, comprehensive guide though, because any mom - nursing or not - knows that feeding goes hand-in-hand with SO much else... sleeping, temperament, age, size, etc. So I'll present it in question-answer format, mmmkay? Here we go:

Do you feed them both at the same time?

No. I did a few times when they were very wee and it was a bigger hassle than it was worth. It involved me sitting in the middle of the couch with the Boppy around my waist and a throw pillow on each side of the Boppy for extra support with my shirt and bra totally off. I had to position the twins head-to-head across the pillow fort so their legs were pointed out and their noggins met at the midline of my body. I'd help one latch, then the other. They'd nurse for about the same amount of time and each girl would need to be burped. That's where it got tricky: I had to choose one to burp first, leaving her sister to wiggle around with a gas bubble stuck until I could take care of her. Ugh. PLUS they'd be continually hungry at the same times and if I wasn't at home to do the couch thing or if it was the middle of the night, I'd have to bring them both all the way down stairs to the couch or else leave one baby screaming in the crib while I nursed her sister.

So if not at the same time, what do you do?

Well, really the biggest thing about nursing the two of them is that I nurse TWO individual babies. I've made the decision to treat them not as a unit - as twins - but as two babies who are both breastfed. So I let them dictate the schedule. I feed them when they're hungry which, now, is rarely at the same time. Mostly, because they ARE the same age (obviously) they eat about the same amount and the same number of times, and my boobs are deliciously NOT lop-sided because they consume about the same each time.

The name of the game here is "neglect". Totally kidding. But not really. See, usually I get lucky and one baby wakes up just a little bit before the other or actually wants to spend time in a swing or exersaucer (as opposed to being placed there against her will, which never sometimes happens) so I can feed her sister. It usually works out that I finish feeding one right about the same time the other one wakes up, gets bored, or decides she's hungry.

If they're both hungry at the same time, well, I have to choose the one whose cries annoy me more and pacify her first.

Do you basically spend your life nursing?!?

*sigh* Yes.

How do you do a schedule!?

HAH! I don't. Not that I would, really. I'm an on-demand kinda gal. I follow a routine more than a schedule. I make sure that our day consists of chunks of time divided thusly (I love the word "thusly"... so snobby, not even sure if it IS a word...): eat, then play/stuff/activity, sleep. I refuse to nurse them to sleep. I did it with Jack and hated myself for it. So I feed them and then we do whatever it is we do and I put them down to sleep without nursing them again. It has done a couple of things for us: allowed me to be able to put them to bed at the same time without having to nurse them at the same time, and allow me to avoid missing that "critical point" (where a baby is tired enough to fall asleep on her own before getting over tired) because I was busy feeding her sister.

Are you like, super skinny? All those calories!

Well, no. See, I eat probably the equivalent of a small ranch worth of food a day. And drink several (yes, several) gallons of water every day. I'm getting there with the baby weight, but I'm actively trying to NOT lose it too quickly. I also end up using Fenugreek here and there to help me out with supply.

I can't really pump - there's not a good time for me to pump since if I'm in between feedings with the girls, I'm most assuredly doing some kind of chore or playing with Jack...

La Leche League said...

I'm saying they can kiss my behind. Well, I wouldn't say that. But I've found that loads of their advice doesn't work in practice. Most notably their pearl of wisdom that states that twins should alternate breasts at each feeding. PAH! I tried that and all I ended up with was a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance that caused major gas issues and wonky supply fluctuations. I picked a boob for each girl and kept it that way. It goes along with me treating them as individuals - they have differing nutritional needs for different metabolisms so why mix that up? LLL cites a need for varying visual stimulation or some such... but really, just hold your kid on the other side and coo at them now and again instead of nursing if it's that big a problem. I was finding that if I nursed Addie on one side, with the intention of nursing her on the opposite side the next time, I would then end up feeding Jordan on the side that Addie was going to eat from next and next thing I know one baby's getting more foremilk and the other one gets more hind milk. That, and it got really hard to keep track of. LLL has lots of good stuff, really, but for me, it was better to do my own thing. (I also use pacifiers and bottles - gasp!)

They must be really good nursers then, right?

Well, they are to an extent. Addie has never had any feeding issues at all. Jordan sometimes has latch problems and she's got terrible reflux so feedings are always an issue involving screaming and crying and arching of the back. But I've got enough tricks up my sleeve that I can usually calm her down. Her meal battles don't really affect Addie though, thankfully, because of the aforementioned "Assigned Boob" technique. If I know I'm in for it with Jo, I just feed Addie first and let her play while I deal with Madame Fussypants. Just requires patience. She's not any better with a bottle of formula, so I may as well nurse through the episodes and at least not have to worry about wasting money. I can't so much pump out money to keep up a supply (wouldn't THAT be swell?!) if I make a formula bottle and chuck it the way I can if I delay a nursing session to let her cool down.

... So, you see, it's not too bad for me. Once I let go of nursing twins and started looking at it as nursing two babies, I really just let each one dictate how our relationship works and now try to keep it separate from how her sister's and my relationship goes. It's simplest that way. It's like going to the grocery store... one step at a time, one battle at a time, we get through it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Grocery Store With Twins: A How-To...

... because soooo many people ask me, "How do you do it with all of your kids?" Or they tell me I'm some kind of super-mom. No, I'm not at all! I'm super-cheap and if I send my husband to the store, he comes back with $100 worth of potato chips and crappy sushi. If I try to get a baby sitter, I may as well have just ordered my groceries online from a pricey store for pickup. I'm just cheap. So I take extra time and put forth extra effort to haul the brood of infant twins and toddler to the store... you know, the same reason I buy the giant bag of carrots and spend hours peeling and cutting them into carrot sticks to keep from having to pay for baby carrots.

So here's how it goes.

Step 1: Load car. Addie gets lifted over the rear seats and clipped in. Jordan gets clipped in next to Jack. Jack gets clipped in. Play DVD.

Step 2: At store, unclip Jordan's infant carrier, place in trunk. Climb into trunk, unclip Addie's infant carrier, place in trunk. Get Jack out, stand him next to trunk. Hook one arm through each infant carrier and instruct Jack to "help me carry a baby" so that he holds on to the handle of one of the carriers while we walk across the parking lot.

Step 3: Pray he doesn't let go.

Step 4: Procure two shopping carts. Set babies down, put Jack in the seat of one cart, place one baby carrier on seat of 2nd cart with 3rd child in carrier in the basket of the 2nd cart. Now I have a twin cart and a Jack/food cart.

Step 5: Begin shopping. Push one cart, pull other cart. Apologize profusely to people who get stuck behind us.

Step 6: Politely try to disengage myself from conversations with well-meaning people every other aisle.

Step 7: Push one cart around a turn, assure child I'll be right back, sprint back and grab 2nd cart and navigate it around said turn, rewarding all children with kisses and praise for being so patient.

Step 8: Ignore glares from other shoppers when BOTH my carts are blocking the coffee shelves. Shurg shoulders and continue shopping.

Step 9: Plead with baby to stop crying, plead with people to stop talking to me, and plead with God to grant me patience.

Step 10: Check out. Lead with kid-cart, sandwich myself between the 2 carts to pull the food cart through the lane, unloading groceries alternating with bestowing kisses.

Step 11: Push and pull carts to car. Load Jack. Load Jordan. Load Addie. Start car, start A/C, start DVD. Load groceries.

Step 12: Get home, leave car running, leave A/C on, leave DVD on, unload groceries, check on kids, put frozen food away. Get Jordan, get Addie, get Jack. Put fridge stuff away. Nurse Jordan, nurse Addie, bribe Jack. Put pantry stuff away.

Step 13: Crumple onto couch and remind myself that I spend $250 on groceries for 5 every other week and the effort is SOOO worth it.

It really isn't too bad. I just have to know that everything will take extra time and prepare for that. A 45 minute trip is a 2-hour trip now, and as long as I plan for that, I can do it. I pack a diaper bag and a snack bag for Jack the night before. I memorize my list AND carry another copy with me. I forgive myself for forgetting things and I don't make any apologies to people for my crying babies because we're all just doing what we have to do to get by. I go during off-peak times and I repeat the same routine time and time again because fewer deviations make for happier kids and give me a prayer of keeping things somewhat streamlined. Methodical. Slow. Patient.

And at the end of it, I feel a sense of accomplishment equal to turning in a 30-page end-of-semester paper and can enjoy the next 2 weeks of a well-stocked pantry before taking the circus to the store again. You see, I'm not "Super Mom"... it's just a method. Like Bob Ross and his paintings. Not Van Gogh-quality, but anyone can do it if they just know the steps.

Coming up soon: bath time with 3 under 3 and breastfeeding twins...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Not That I Want To Raise My Children In Bubbles...

... but I kind-of do. I mean, not the kind of bubble where they gain no worldly experience or anything. No, I mean those germ-free bubbles that keep someone isolated from all human contact.

Okay so maybe that's a little extreme, so maybe I just want to put them in Bubbles for trips to the grocery store. Or make them invisible... Better yet, perhaps I should just hire a babysitter for grocery outings. If I were a betting woman (and I'm not by virtue of having no money and any money I do get my hands on goes directly to my Starbucks fund and wouldn't be gambled away) I'd bet the farm that leaving the girls at home would get me in and out of the grocery store in HALF the time. HALF. That's huge. And I further guarantee that 80% of the illnesses my family contracts would be avoided entirely. See where I'm going with the Bubble thing?

See, I get it, Old Korean Lady. I do. Those girls dissolve my heart too. I can't resist them either. I nibble toes and rub noses and tickle cheeks and offer my finger at every opportunity I get. But it's okay for me to stop in the middle of an aisle to catch Jordan's eye, grin back at her and plant a smooch on her nose. SHE IS MY DAUGHTER. So, you see, I do understand that they're irresistible. I'd love to devour the sweeties in Jack's class and squish them all in giant hugs. But I don't because they're not my kids. Therefore, as far as understanding goes, I've got plenty of that. Patience, however, is a virtue that is in fairly short supply these days. I use it all up on my children, then my husband, and then, if they're lucky, customer service representatives (and usually they're not... lucky, that is). And I realize that you don't understand me when I plead with you to please leave us to our shopping so I can get home to feed them. I know you don't understand, "I'm in a hurry," because I don't understand the (very sweet, I'm sure) things you're saying to the girls while you grab their toes and touch their noses and giggle at their smiles. Please, Old Korean Lady, listen to your husband who is saying (very frustrated, I'm sure) things to you and pulling your blouse in the other direction. I'll betcha he's saying to you in your language what I'm saying in mine: "Please let them be!"

And you, Very Kind Not-Yet-Grandmother, I am very sorry your son is 27 and a total jerk and won't settle down and your daughter is a lesbian who doesn't want children... I am. But I can't fill that void in your life while we're standing in the baking aisle. I don't really want to talk to you about breastfeeding or whether I sleep through the night while I debate Betty Crocker versus Duncan Hines. I wish you the best... maybe get a few more cats? But I really have to get out of this store in under 2 hours...

The worst offenders are Moms-of-Older Kids who say rude things (but don't realize they are rude things) such as, "Look, 'Tween-Who-Should-Be-In-School-But-Is-Probably-Sick-So-Is-Staying-Out-Instead, why don't you go see those babies - aren't they cute! Look how sweet they are, go on, look," while urging said 'Tween to get as close as possible to inspect (and breathe on) the babies.

And yes, shockingly, two babies of comparable size in infant carriers, clutching corresponding blankets in the same shopping cart pushed by one person are (ready for this?) TWINS. Real, honest-to-goodness living and breathing twins.

Holy Moses.

Yes, I was pregnant with them. Yes, I gave birth to them. No, I'm really sure they're not identical. Nope, don't want to talk about lactation. Nope, not your business whether or not I can afford them. Yes, my hands are full, but they won't be if you move away from my cart so I can put my armload of garbanzo beans into it instead of standing here discussing birth-order with you.

And really, you don't need to get 6 inches from their faces to determine that their eyes are blue. And then tell me about it. I'm aware; I've seen them.

So what's a mom supposed to do? I see several options:

1) I could NOT go to the store and send Hubby... no, no not really an option.
2) I could ignore these people... but it doesn't matter if I say nothing to them, they'll still touch noses and tell their shopping partner about the "adorable little babies" they've just smeared with germs.
3) I could start wearing a sandwich board around with decrees posted about My Grocery Store Twin-Viewing Etiquette, but that would make crouching to get the better deals off the lower shelves pretty tough...
....which leaves me with option #4... The Bubble.

Anyone know where I could find them?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Because I've Been so Lazy...

...and haven't blogged in forever... I'll give this a shot until I feel more inspired.

Making : plans for our future and loving that we're in control for once!
Cooking : takes me at least 4 times longer than it does to eat.
Drinking : my second gallon of water of the day so I can keep nursing my giant twins.
Reading: random crap on Wikipedia
Wanting: to buy a rug for the living room
Looking: for one of my cookbooks that has an amazing recipe for pineapple upside-down cake in it
Playing: trains with Jack makes me absurdly happy. And peekaboo with the girls. It never gets old.
Wasting: a chance to take a bath on updating my pages...
Listening: to the quiet house and feeling a little lonely.
Enjoying: every single moment of my life right now - even the tough ones.
Waiting: for nothing and just relishing the present - the future and all the good stuff it holds will come soon enough but I won't get this time back. So I anticipate and look forward to things... but I don't really wait for stuff.
Loving: that stuff is right.
Hoping: that all of my cherished friends who are having a rough time right now find peace and stability sooner rather than later.
Marvelling: at how incredibly much I love my family.
Smelling: the lotion I rubbed on Addie after her bath... it's all over my shirt from snuggling earlier.
Wearing: sweat pants and one of Justin's t-shirts
Following: the fly that keeps buzzing around thinking I would kill it if I didn't mind cleaning fly goo off the wall.
Noticing: that my eyebrows haven't been groomed in WAY too long...
Thinking: that it's really past my bedtime.
Bookmarking: various Halloween costume websites, trying to decide what the girls will get to be.
Opening: pictures of Jack's first Halloween and getting giddily excited for this year.
Giggling: at the prospect of making Jordan "Grumpy Bear" carebear and Addie "Sunshine Bear"... we'll see...

Friday, September 11, 2009

And Just Like That...

...they're all grown up.

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