Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My Breastfeeding Journey - Part 1, The Beginning

Long before my boys were born I knew that I was going to breastfeed. No. Matter. What. Just as I believe that birth is a natural and beautiful process, I also believe that breastfeeding is a magical bonding time between mother and baby. Despite my best efforts, I wasn't able to experience the natural HypnoBirth that I had spent my entire pregnancy preparing for which only left me feeling more motivated to successfully breastfeed. Knowing that the Universe wouldn't rob me of two passions, I knew breastfeeding would be a breeze. Two babies? So what. I got this.

Clarke and I cuddling in the hospital..always skin to skin for us
As soon as my little men were brought into this world they were immediately placed on my chest for skin to skin bonding. Minutes later I had a nurse pulling my boobs this way and that showing me how to get my boys to latch. If you thought I was emotional after giving birth, I was really a mess now. With tears of joy pouring down my face and a smile from ear to ear these two gorgeous creatures were now suckling away getting everything they could ever need all from my milk.

My usual post-nurse position, double baby to chest for sleeping
While in the hospital I utilized the Lactation Consultants each day to ask as many questions as my heart desired. I requested a pump on day two so I could kick up my supply and train my body to think I had had eight babies instead of two. Clarke was a little slower to get going so I ended up trying a nipple shield, he took to it like a fish to water. J.R. had started eating like a champ, but then he too needed a little shield support. I hated them, but I would have done anything if it would have helped my babies nurse.  After two months I worked hard to get rid of those shields. They were a pain to remember when out and about, a pain to always have with me and even more of a pain to find in the middle of the night. After some frustrating nursing sessions, I got them going au natural. Those two were milk drinking machines and I with so many pump sessions, I had more milk then I knew what to do with! Because I pumped after each nursing session and soon had an entire freezer full. BOOM.

My milk drunk babies passed out on the Breast Friend after a tasty mommy meal
I exclusively nursed on demand for eight weeks, then after many tears gave them their first bottle of my expressed breast milk. I didn't want to, but I knew I eventually had to leave them at some point and didn't want to make anything harder for them then it needed to be. I was convinced they would refuse that fake bottle and yearn for me...nope, they pounded it. I cried now convincing myself that they loved that bottle so much they would never again want to nurse...nope, they were back to nursing a couple hours later as though nothing had happened. 

I continued to nurse 6-8 times a day and only gave them a bottle when needed. About a month before I knew I had to go back to work, I started to give them one bottle a day.  I hated it, but it had to be done.  We co-slept until they were four months old, so night nursing was a breeze. Then one night, I laid them down in their cribs to take a shower and low and behold they passed out. They were just ready I guess...

My big boy J.R. aka Peanut sleeping on his mommy after a snack...
It has been ten beautiful, nearly perfect months of breastfeeding my twins and I wouldn't have changed a thing. Despite suffering from some lightning nipple pain, raw nipples from too long nursing sessions and the occasional baseball sized "milk tumor", I never even considered stopping, not for one second. I utilized supports when needed (Nic was a HUGE asset), went on KellyMom almost nightly and made an appointment for a one to one session with an LC early on to build my confidence.  Above all else, I educated myself and made sure I found strength in knowing how the breast works and to always, I repeat always, trust your body and your baby; they know what to do. Your body will  respond to what your baby needs, that is what it was designed to do. Now granted, that is not always 100% the case, but for the most part, if you are dedicated and committed to breastfeeding it will all work out. When trouble arises, get help and fast. Otherwise, just keep up the hard work. Breastfeeding is not for the weak.

Dinner on the patio for big boys!
But alas, the time has come, I am ready for another baby (no, I am not crazy). In an effort to get pregnant again I need to get my body back to pre-baby hormones...that means goodbye breastfeeding and hello menstruation. My fertility doctor can't even start to assess our next IVF transplant without me being back to "normal". When she told me this at our last consultation in November (yes, my boys were only 3 months old and no, again, I am not crazy) you should have seen the smile creep across my TH's face. He knew if it had been up to me I would have left the office pregnant!

I had always set out to go strong for one year of straight breast milk and I am well on my way there. Having to start the weaning process is horribly sad, but they have been showing me signs they are ready. Heck, we haven't even started to go through our freezer stash of milk either! 

I'm sadly looking forward to this summer and the last two months of the special time I have with my boys.  My journey thus far has been nothing short of amazing and I wouldn't trade the milk squirting, public tandem nursing or taking my pump with me everywhere for anything. Stay tuned for Part 2 of my journey...

Any tips or suggestions for a gentle approach to weaning? 

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