Category Archives: Breastfeeding
Two years ago today, at about this time of day, I was in the last stages of labor with Peanut Butter and Jelly. It was too soon for them to be born and they were too small. I was afraid and suddenly felt completely unprepared to take care of two new humans. I knew we would have a NICU stay ahead of us, but I didn’t really know what that would mean. I was also excited about the prospect of meeting these two little boys who had been kicking and poking at me!
The birth did not go as well as any of us would have liked. I remember very little after they wheeled me into the operating room. I had a vaginal birth and began bleeding heavily as soon as Jelly came out. I still don’t know why. As I was losing blood my pressure was dropping and I felt myself fading away. I know they showed me the babies but all I really remember was that I felt like I was saying goodbye to them instead of hello. I don’t remember much of the hour or two after that.
I thought I was dying but was not upset about it. I felt peaceful. As it turns out, I was probably not in much danger of dying. I didn’t go into cardiac arrest or anything and they called down for blood but ended up not doing a transfusion. I lost quite a lot but the doctor was able to stop the bleeding.
The boys had pretty good apgar scores but were sent to the level 1 NICU. It was about 4 hours before I was able to see them and I was still sort of out of it. I remember how very tiny they looked and how scary it was to see them hooked up to machines with tubes coming out every which way. They boys had their own dedicated nurse. She seemed so unafraid of handling them. It seemed like she was just tossing them around. I was afraid to hold them but she convinced me I wouldn’t break them.
I honestly don’t remember whom I held first. I do remember that the very first thing I tried to do was nurse. Neither of them were able to suck and that made me very sad (as it turned out, it would take them 3 months to learn how to nurse).
During those first couple of weeks, hearing the little squeaks that were their cries made me inexplicably happy. I figured if they could cry, they were ok. (oh how that has changed!)
They came home after 3 weeks and then the really scary part began.
But I survived the first year and now the second. The tiny babies in the NICU have grown into fun, active, (almost) normal-sized toddlers.
I’m still scared and often feel wholly unnprepared to take care of these two little human beings, but they generally seem happy and secure. My hope is that I can be the mother they deserve to have.
The twins are really growing and developing now. At 14 months, they don’t walk or say any words or even have much in the way of language/communication skills at all. In fact, we will be having developmental therapy 2 hours a week beginning this week to help them catch up.
But they crawl faster than I can run and smile and giggle and laugh and hug each other and eat enormous amounts of food. We are mostly in a sweet spot right now, where they can play and entertain each other for as much as an hour at a time. They take two decent naps a day and sleep all night, rarely waking up. They love their mama and dada very much and are healthy, happy boys.
The stress never ends of course. As one thing gets easier another gets harder, but I have more hopeful days than not, and that’s a huge relief to me.
I stopped writing regularly here when I was going through a very difficult weaning process with them. It was absolutely heartbreaking for me and I was very depressed about it. I know that most people just don’t understand the depth of despair it caused me and it was hard to even write about it. I’m a little further removed from the whole thing now and while I’m still really sad and disappointed over what I continue to see as an absolute failure on my body’s part to adequately nourish my children, I’m feeling twinges more than stabbing pains now.
I hope I’ll have the self-discipline to write regularly now. I’ve convinced myself that I don’t need to have a long, soul-baring post every time. One of my favorite bloggers, eckids, posts nearly every day, with mostly short but interesting notes, ideas and musings. I’d love to follow her lead.
That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.
Linking up with Just Write
The babies wake up happy, as usual. We nurse and smile and talk to Daddy and the dogs. Diapers are changed, laundry is started, the Today show keeps me company in the background. I’m hungry and cross my fingers, hoping they’ll stay happy long enough for me to scramble an egg.
They don’t, and I have to turn off the stove halfway through the process. Peanut Butter is extra hungry and Jelly isn’t far behind. I don’t want to start the day with formula. I won’t start the day with formula. We’ll nurse every 30 minutes if we need to. I’ll put off giving them formula until at least noon. I am determined.
But so are they. I give in and decide that 2 ounces will be enough to take off the edge and we will resume our nursing non-schedule. Jelly is happy enough and plays with his toes. Peanut Butter is not. He is still hungry, so I pick him up and nuzzle him into my breast. He screams and arches his back, over and over. I prop him on my shoulder and pat his back, trying to whisper calming and encouraging things to him. I try again, he screams louder. I am struggling to hold in my growing anger.
Maybe he’s not hungry. Maybe he needs to be distracted by a toy. This doesn’t work and he continues to scream. We try the breast again and the rejection is tearing at my heart. I sob and shout out and pound on the arm of the couch. There is milk there! Why won’t you take it! Why are you rejecting me?
This is the only thing I can give you that is truly unique. Anyone can bathe you. Anyone can hold you. Anyone and smile at you and play with you. Anyone can give you a bottle with that wretched liquid in it. Your rejection feels so personal and it fills me with an irrational rage. I’m angry with my body, and myself and even you. I’m angry at myself for being angry with you. You’re an infant, telling me what you need in the only way you know how.
But every drop you take from that bottle is a drop you don’t take from me. Every drop is a reminder of my failure to provide for you. If I can’t take care of you in this most basic way, how will I be able to be a good mother to you in the rest of your life? These thoughts are ridiculous, I know. But they are so big and so real and sometimes, often even, I want to just give up. I want to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head and leave the rearing of you both to someone who can do a better job.
I resign myself to giving you a 4 ounce bottle. Drink what you want of it. I’m obviously unable to give you what you need and want. Six ounces is more than half of my daily goal of keeping the supplementation at or below 10 ounces. I know that the more formula you drink, the less I will produce and I am filled with dread and sadness at the prospect of you weaning early, but I can’t leave you hungry.
All is quiet now. Your brother is having his morning nap and you, satiated, roll across the floor and giggle at the dog. I cry and wonder what sort of monster I am to project my own feelings of inadequacy on a helpless child.