Twin Adventures

Twin girls now rule the house.

I Will Pump No Longer!

I’ve had a huge love-hate relationship with my breastmilk and pumping. While I love that my girls have been getting the “best” nutrition, I also despise pumping. Each time you sit down to pump you’re looking at 10-15 minutes of being incapable of doing much else. It’s not very convenient to chase children or answer a phone that’s across the room. Not to mention if company or UPS shows up! And that’s not even thinking about the slight pain that comes along with it. I have no idea how it compares to actually nursing, but there were definitely times while I was pumping when I wanted to scream/cry/yell out in pain.

Without giving a bit of background, all the information that follows may not make much sense… so here goes: First off, I needed a bit of assistance in order to produce any milk. My doctor set me up with Domperidone. A drug that is used for suppressing nausea and vomiting. As a side effect, it also increases lactation. We had tried a few “natural” remedies, but none had worked for us. Even though we had to put down a little money for it, the pills were worth the cost.

For the first six months of pumping, I pumped every four hours. Exluding during the night. Even when the girls woke up for a night feed, I skipped the pumping. In the middle of the night, I was not interested in sitting down and having my breasts attached to a suction cup. Because I was pumping so frequently during the day it really felt like I had no down time. Wake up, pump, feed babies, put the babies down for a nap, shower, pump, wake the babies, feed the babies, put the babies down for a nap, pump, etc etc etc. After six months, when I got a new supply of pills (each prescription renewal was for three months) I decided to adjust my schedule and go with pumping four times a day.

Every time I adjusted my schedule and pumped fewer times during the day, it still never seemed like I was catching a break. It felt like my whole day was filled with nothing but milk, be it formula or breastmilk. It might have been slightly selfish, thinking that a combined time of one hour per day was invading my free time. But, it was really the thought of being stuck on the couch, going through the pain that really got me down. Anyway. I went with four times a day for another three months; the duration of my domperidone prescription. When I got it refilled (for the last time!) I decreased the amount of times I pumped per day. Down to three times a day. This time it felt like I was no longer be ruled by my pump!

Yesterday I took my last  pills. Over the next few days, I’ll slowly stop pumping. It’ll be interesting to see how much the pills have been keeping things flowing. Has my body become accustomed to my pumping schedule, or will my milk production just come to a halt? Just going on the couple of pumping sessions I’ve done so far, I’m thinking it may be the latter. On average, I’ve produced about 200ml per pump. But, my last pump of the day from yesterday only yielded about 150ml. And, my first pump of the day this morning yielded even less. I’m estimating that tomorrow, or even tonight may be the last time I hook myself up! (Yay!!!)

Switching gears a bit; I would really recommend going all out and getting a decent pump if you’re in it for the long haul. We splurged and got a Medela Pump In-Stlye. Although it cost us nearly $400.00, it was totally worth it. It’s an electric, double pump with the option of being a single. It comes in a handy backpack which is ideal for travelling. It also comes with wall plug and a battery pack. I never made use of the battery pack, but I plugged the pump into a car converter more than a handful of times while we were driving (as a passenger!) I would buy it all over again for the ease it provided.

We’ve supplemented with formula, but I’m so happy and grateful that I’ve been able to give my girls breastmilk for a year. On the other hand… I am even more happy that it’s pretty much over!


Expectations and Reality

If I could give one piece of advice to soon-to-be-parents-of-twins, it would be… Don’t set your expectations too high! Anton and I are realistic people and we knew right from when we found out I was pregnant that nothing we decided on was set in stone. I watched my mom go through raising six of her own kids, plus all the “extras” and I knew that kids are unpredictable. Because of this (thank you Mommy!) I knew not to get my hopes set on doing things a certain way. Of course knowing this, I still wanted some things to go my way. These were my kids, and I was gonna do things the way I wanted to! Well, and the way Anton wanted to of course!

Looking back on the last almost-seven months, I know that there have been some things that we said we weren’t going to do and some things we wanted to do, but never did. And there were certainly things we set out to do, and did!

The Things We Weren’t Going To Do…

Co-Sleeping: I’m a heavy sleeper, so I was fairly dead-set against co-sleeping. I know a lot of people do it, but I’ve slept through earthquakes, so I wasn’t about to risk rolling onto a baby and waking up in time to notice. And I certainly wasn’t willing to give up my comfy pillows and duvet to make it safe for them! But we did. For the first couple of weeks after we got home, our precious angels would not sleep anywhere but on mommy’s chest. After a few sleepless nights, we gave in. I felt it was mandatory that I was barricaded by pillows and that I slept semi-upright so I never got too comfortable and it was easier for the babies to stay on chest rather than fall to the sides. Poor Anton, because of all the pillows he had the smallest sliver of bed to sleep on. After awhile the girls got used to sleeping in their play yard beside our bed and eventually, in their own cribs in their own room. However, the co-sleeping did not end there. Since then, when the girls have a bad night we bring them in our bed so we can all get some sleep. They no longer sleep on my chest. They sleep between Anton and I. We haven’t gotten rid of our pillows and blankets. I have yet to roll on top of one of them, and I wake up at the slightest sound.

Feed them Solids before six months: We cheated a bit. We fed them at four months. Some experts disagree on this point, but the girls showed interest and most of the signs that you’re supposed to watch for. So, we gave it a go. No expectations on how well they were going to do, but they seemed to enjoy it. At our six-month checkup, Dr. Morum wasn’t terribly impressed. He didn’t seem pissed off, but he was surprised. “No no, you’re not supposed to do that until they’re six months!” Didn’t have much else to say on the matter though…

The Things We Never Did…

Breastfeeding: Before you go any further… they do drink breast milk. I pump and we feed it to them in a bottle. Before they were born, I was totally ready to breastfeed. We even went through the motions of using dolls to figure out how to dual-breastfeed. But it never happened. I think a lot of other people would have been more disappointed, but this was one of the things I knew was a possibility, and I was mentally prepared to face it. The girls didn’t latch and I wasn’t producing. But that’s another story. I know I could easily start them breastfeeding now, if we worked at it a bit, but since I haven’t been doing it for six months, it seems odd to start now.

Travelling: Now, when I say travelling I mean long-distance road trips. Anton and I have done a few road trips to California, because I have family down there (shout out!) and it was important to me that they meet the newest members. We figured when they were still pretty young, maybe two-three months we would go for a road trip. I would smack someone if they told me they were planning on doing that with twins. The longest trip we did when they were that little was to Abbotsford, and that was mentally exhausting.

The Things We Did Do…

Cloth Diapering: We didn’t do cloth right from the beginning because the diapers we had purchased were too big for our tiny babies. But, I did find some second-hand newborn size when they were about a month old and we used those as soon as we got them. We use disposables at night and when we travel, but we’ve always planned out. I’m amazed at how well our cloth diapering plans have worked out.

50/50 Formula and Breast milk: Even with the slight hurdles surrounding my breast milk, we manage to give Shula and Maretta almost exactly 50 percent of each. And we bottle feed everything so Daddy gets to be a part of all meal times. This was not a requirement from Anton, but an “it would be nice”.

Do Things Simply: One of our biggest “wants” right from the beginning was to have a simplistic view on raising the babies. Not too much stuff, and simple stuff. We have simple cribs, and a simple stroller/car seat combo. We have simple high chairs and simple bouncy chairs. We don’t have an excessive amount of toys or clothes. We don’t have a swing for each of the girls, or an activity centre for each one of them. I am always getting rid of stuff that no longer fits or works for us before we get something new.

The moral of my story? One baby or two, first time or experienced parents… try not to set yourself up for disappointment. Sure, have ideas of what you want and how you want to do things but don’t let it bother you too much when it doesn’t work out that way. And be pleasantly surprised when it does work out!

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The road to giving our babies the best hasn’t been the easiest one.

Anton and I are fairly practical. Before we had the girls we thought everything through, going through best and worst case scenerios. Our plans were to breastfeed and do formula but worst case, only formula. We were hoping of course that the breastfeeding would go off without a hitch, even going so far as discussing how I was going to breastfeed twins and experimenting with pillow arrangements on the couch to get the best positions figured out ahead of time.

Unfortunately, the nursing didn’t go as well as we’d hoped. Shula never opened her mouth wide enough to get anything more than my nipple inside, and that was only successful about a third of the time. Maretta never seemed to know what to do once she had latched on. So, we moved on to supplementing with formula. We ended up doing a lot more formula than we had planned, but that’s the way things go. Things were a little tense in the hospital with the nurses, but I tried not to let it get to me.

Once we got home, breastfeeding kinda fell to the wayside for the first couple of weeks. But, after we had gotten into the swing of things, I decided to give it another go and we bought a manual Lansinoh pump. It worked great for me; although it didn’t take long for my wrists to start bothering me! So, I would pump every two hours, whenever the girls ate. It swallowed a lot of time and I was not producing anywhere near what I should have been producing. A good day was getting 50ml per breast; for the entire day. It was a little heartbreaking, to tell the truth. I gave up for a while, not being very diligent about pumping and getting easily frustrated when I didn’t produce as much as I wanted to. I never felt like a bad mom.. just felt like I was not giving the girls the best they could have.

After a while, we decided to splurge big time and get an electric double pump. A Medela Pump In-Style Advanced. Worth the $400.00 spent. It’s so easy to use and being able to pump both sides at the same time is fantastic. A 15-minute job. We gave the new pump a couple of weeks to see if it could increase my production. Unfortunately to no avail. We had to go for slightly more drastic measures. Made a doctors appointment and had my GP set me up with some Domperidone. Two pills; four times a day. It works!! I am now making upwards of 200ml a day, per breast. Still not enough to feed the girls exclusively but it is a huge weight off of my shoulders. I’m hoping that as they start eating solid foods in a couple of months we’ll be able to get rid of the formula all together and just give them the breastmilk in addition to their solids. Fingers crossed.

I still pump every two hours, to make sure I keep the production going as best I can. I’m not always the greatest at remembering to pump, so my two hour could easily turn into three or four, but I am over the moon about the progress me and my boobs have made. I plan to keep the pumping going until the girls are a year old. I’m grateful that I won’t have to worry about weaning them. And, for anyone who has doubts… I feel just as close to my baby girls even though I haven’t nursed them. We’ve still had tons of skin-to-skin time and I doubt they have suffered at all from not being given breastmilk exclusively. “Hah!” to the public health nurses that refuse to accept that formula is not the most horrible thing ever.

Daddy dual-wielding!

As a humongous side note… I am so extremely grateful to Anton. He pushed me to pump and not give up. He never judged me for getting frustrated or made me feel worse than I already did for not breastfeeding exclusively. My knight in shining armour. I probably didn’t give him all the credit he deserved at the time, but I probably would’ve given up by now had it not been for his motivation and support. And, isn’t it just fantastic that Anton can participate and contribute to feeding our girls. We can all bond over feeding!

“Breast is best, but bottle ain’t bad.” – Anton, genius, fantastic daddy, wonderful husband.

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