Monday, August 23, 2010

1 + 1 = 5

If you've ever had the experience of being told you are carrying twins, you know what shocked feels like.

We'd decided to give having another baby a try late last April. I figured it would take a few months. I was wrong.

The first day I missed my period a few weeks later, I took a pregnancy test. It was 3 or 4 in the morning and it was positive. Yes! I don't do well with waiting.

This time around, I needed to switch doctors. The doctor who delivered me with Rylee is a little too far away for me now and I didn't totally love my experience with him anyway. I waited the standard 8 weeks that most doctors require when you are pregnant.

We were so excited! We loved the new doctor (who came via recommendation from a friend) and he was on board with me attempting a VBAC. And yay! We get to have a quick sonogram to check everything out! I laid back with anticipation. The warm goo was coming, I've been here before. I remember how this felt. And then when the wand touched my stomach and the image appeared on the screen, something unfamiliar was there. I knew something was different. The funny thing is, as my new doctor held my hand to lay me back on the table, he said, "okay! let's see if you are going to be the next Octo-Mom!"

I saw the two sacs on the screen but had no words. The doctor said, "well guys, looks like we might be changing your plans a bit but hold on, I need to get my nurse. She just loves twins." I knew when I saw the screen that there were two sacs but Rodney just thought he was looking at a blob of mush on the screen. It wasn't until the doctor said "twins" that he knew what was going on. I will forever remember the look on his face. His very pale and white face.

And internet, I'm not going to lie. I cried.

I don't know if I cried because I was happy or sad or scared. Maybe all three. Plus 9 thousand other emotions.

The next few minutes were a bit of a blur. We were sort of rock-stars for 5 minutes. There was some blood drawn, another appointment made and then we were walking back outside the doors of the hospital. We looked at each other. "We're having two babies. TWO BABIES. We need a new car. we need a new house!" I'm not sure which of us said that but one of us did and it was real all of the sudden.

I spent the next 6 months preparing for Logan and Hadley. It's nice that we have some close friends who have boy/girl twins who were (and still are) willing to lend some knowledge on the subject.

I decided that I was going to breast feed these babies. I read a lot about it. I knew that it would save us a TON of money and let's face it, I need all of the money I can get. I HAVE TWO FREAKING BABIES COMING. Not to mention a 4 year old with an affinity for the finer things in life.

Of course life doesn't always go the way you planned it, does it?


Pumping Questions Answered

How long should I pump for?

Generally you should start off pumping 30 minutes plus 10 more. You want to pump until your breasts are completely empty. The extra 10 minutes tells your body to produce more milk. Eventually you won't need to pump that long. I pump on average about 15 minutes these days. In the beginning you will need to pump longer to empty the breast because your body is still learning to produce what it needs.

I typically have 2-3 "let down's" during a pumping session. If you are not having 2-3, don't worry! As long as you have at least one in the beginning, you are doing good :)

What kind of breast pump should I use?

I'm not an expert on breast pumps by any means but I've always used Medela and it's been great for me. You want to make sure you are using a hospital grade pump, no matter which one you chose. I think most professionals recommend Medela, Ameda or renting one from your hospital. The hospital grade pumps provide the most suction and work best long term. They are expensive but worth it in the long run. I have the Pump in Style version from a few years ago and it's held up great. They do have the smaller versions out now and I would love to have one! I just can't justify buying another pump when this one is still working so well.

Do I really have to sit here and hold these things?

Yes and No.

When I first starting doing this, I felt completely helpless! I sat holding the flanges/bottles up to my chest, back hunched over, no use of my hands. I was going down fast. I thought, if this is what I have to do 8 or 9 times a day, I'm not doing it.

I researched to see if anyone made some sort of holder-thing. And yes! They do!

But whoa! I am not spending that kind of money on a bra.

I went out and bought a decent sports bra and cut a small hole in each side (about the size of a quarter). This would all me to fit the flange through the hold and attach the pump on the outside of the hole. Voila! I'm hands free! I can type, I can update my Facebook status, read TMZ, chat about politics with a friend, I can post on my blog just as I am doing right now! I'm kidding. I'm not pumping right now but I could if I wanted to!

The nice thing about the newer hand-held pumps is that they are battery operated and you can actually walk around with it, which attempting to do chores or get other things done. While that is nice, I feel like a pumping session should be reserved to some quiet time for just you.

(I eventually grew tired of having to change bras a million times a day and soon figured out that I could just insert the flange into the bra I am wearing and the bra would hold it in nicely. Easy!)


Coming up!

This hurts, what am I doing wrong?
Is there anything I can take to increase my supply?
What's the best way to store my milk?

I'll also answer any questions you might have if you'd like to leave them as a comment here!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Why I changed my mind...

When my first born came into the world I was a little overwhelmed.

I had no idea what I was doing. I had some people telling me to do this and others telling me to do that.

The idea of breast feeding was not something I was very interested in. My mom did not do it with my brother ( I was 12 when he was born) and I really didn't know much about it.

However, after they'd cut me open and pulled the 9 pound, blue-eyed baby girl out of me, I thought I'd give it a shot.

It worked! She breast fed like a champ. Hooray! I can totally do this.

Three hours later and I felt like I was living a nightmare. Nothing would work! She was hungry all of the time but never satisfied. The lactation consultants had me try expressing and trying all sorts of things but nothing seemed to really stick.

I remember two days after being sent home and feeling totally overwhelmed. We'd taken Rylee in for her check up and the pediatrician could tell I was absolutely about to lose my mind. She sent me to another lactation consultant at the hospital near us. While we were there, Rylee breast fed for nearly an hour! I felt good. I felt like I could do it again.

Of course when we got home, it went back to normal. It seemed like one or both of us were crying at all hours of the day. After two weeks of trying, I gave up.

I felt defeated and like a bad mother. There were people around me telling me that I just HAD to breast feed but I was exhausted. I needed help. So we bought a pack of Dr. Brown's bottles and started using some of the convenient powdered stuff that had come home with us from the hospital.

Truth be told, a lot of me giving up was laziness. I was so tired and I just wanted my husband to help a little. A bottle would allow me to get a little rest. And I mean, come on - I carried her for nine months and endured abdominal surgery to get her here, would it kill him to get up and give her a bottle? He was absolutely more than willing to help. I'm lucky in that I don't have the kind of husband who feels it's the wife's duty to take care of the kids by herself. He doesn't mind sharing in the responsibility and thank goodness for that. I might have been committed a long time ago otherwise.

The next couple of months would make me want to turn back time.

I don't know if the formula is what caused her problems but when I tell you that this child was sick a lot --- I'm not exaggerating. We went through 6 different formulas to get to one that she could tolerate. She had her first double ear infection and strep throat at 3 weeks old. At 5 weeks we were in the hospital with her because she had an unexplained fever of 102. She had catheters, chest x-rays, a spinal tap...she had diarrhea for a month straight. By the time she was 6 months old, she'd had 6 double ear infections. She had thrush, whooping cough and multiple sinus infections. She started breathing treatments at 3 months. Her chart was so full and thick and she wasn't even a year old. The nurses knew me by my voice when I called. She had tubes put in her ears at the earliest age they would allow it, 7 months.

She was perfectly healthy when she was born and a week late. I can't tell you how many nights I was up with her thinking. "is this my fault? Should I have tried harder?"

Of course, just because you choose not to breast feed doesn't mean you're child will get sick. You have to make the best decision you can possibly make for you and for your child. This was merely my experience and I sort of felt like it had to do formula. And from that experience I decided that the next time I tried this (which would be 4 years later), I would try to breast feed. I would try harder no matter what.

And then I found out there were two little beans floating around in my uterus...


I promised that I would include a tip with each blog post about breast feeding/pumping so here's tip 1!

If you plan to EP (exclusively pump), plan on spending a whole lot of time with your machine. I calculated just how many times I will have pumped after 358 days (I fed them myself for the first week), at 6 times a day (which is just an average - in the beginning you pump much more) and it came out to 2,148!!! That's A LOT of hours to spend with something that's plugged into the wall and is close to being called a torture devise!

In the beginning you will need to pump as many times, (if not at least one more time) that your baby eats. If your baby is eating 8 times a day, plan on pumping between 8-9 times. You really only have to do this for a few weeks. I did it for about 9 weeks to build my supply up because I have TWO babies to feed. You're basically telling your body that this is how much milk it needs to produce. Even though you may have excess, you want to build up your supply as much as you can because later you will be able to drop pumps. I'm down to 4-5 a day now and still producing 50+ ounces.

It's annoying and you'll probably have to drag your pump around with you to places, but if you want to express for your baby, you have to pump a lot. I remember (during the first few weeks), pumping, feeding the babies, getting them changed and back to sleep only have to pump again about an hour later. It wasn't fun at first but it's definitely paid off now. (and yes, I did drag it around to events and several times had to stop what I was doing while I was out so I could come home and pump)


Coming up!

How long should I pump for?
What kind of breast pump should I use?
Do I really have to sit there and hold these things??

Saturday, August 21, 2010

8 months later...

So I've been telling myself that I would start this blog soon.

And then I would tell myself again.

And again.

And now my babies are nearly 8 months old.

The first year really blows by, doesn't it?

Anyway, I'm not one of those people who has those perfect photos after the baby (or in my case, babies) are born. You know who I'm talking about ... you see them all of the time on blogs and on websites. Supposedly the woman has just gone through 49 hours of labor and yet still had the time to put on makeup like she was going to a state dinner. She's perfectly poised, the baby is looking at her longingly. Yeah. That's not me. That's not even me 2 or 3 weeks later (or 8 months later in fact). I look back at some of the pictures that were taken of me fairly soon after my children were born and I look like death. Probably because I felt like death. Also probably why I'm usually the one operating the camera and not in front of it.

I have three children. Rylee, who is 4 1/2. Logan and Hadley, who are now almost 8 months. (born 12/31, YES! thanks Uncle Sam!) I'm sort of a SAHM. I work 2 days a week at the MDO of the church we attend and I also (with the help of my husband) run a little cake shop.

Why I wanted to start this blog:

There are a few reasons I wanted to start this thing. The first being that I wanted a cognitive resource for women who are attempting to breast feed/pump their babies. I was told many, many things when I first started pumping for my babies by many different people. The most difficult thing I'd heard (from ironically, many medical personnel) is that I wouldn't be able to do it.

I'm also realizing that as women and mothers, we are not lifting one another up in this process. We are beat down by our peers and isn't being a new mom hard enough as it is? Someone out there has to speak up and say this is hard. This is the hardest thing I've ever done.

Anyway, I'm just hoping to share some info that I've learned along the way. Hopefully it will help someone out there breast feed their baby or their babies!

Each post will have some info about something I've learned about breast feeding/pumping and a few other tidbits and insights into this mother's crazy life.