Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Mama milk

Things may be falling apart, breastfeeding-wise. Actually, using the word 'breastfeeding' is kind of misleading, given that Mira and Ian generally each get fed directly from the source no more than twice a day, more often once each. Despite not getting a lot of, um, face time with my breasts, the babies are getting a lot of what we refer to as mama milk. As much as I hated pumping when Ada was a baby, I now find it in some ways better than actually breastfeeding directly. When pumping I can generally get out enough milk to feed both twins for one feeding. If I nurse I can feed one of them, and then sometimes that one finishes nursing and still wants more milk. When they were first born they were too small and tired to efficiently get the milk out, so we used bottles a lot. I think this made them lazy where drinking is concerned. Getting the milk out of me is a lot more work for them than getting it out of the bottle, and neither of them is consistently willing to take on that challenge even now.

At the end of this week the twins will be 11 weeks old - almost 3 months. As they sleep less it is harder to find time to pump. Last week I saw my likely future, in which I am alone with the twins during the day and can not pump without all hell breaking loose. Chris had gone in to work and Ian and Mira were both fed when I realized I really needed to pump. I put them both in seats (okay, car seats, as we were camping out at Ellen's house during the heat wave) and set up the pump on the floor. While rocking both car seats (with my feet) I pumped to the sound of the babies wailing. I was so traumatized that I had to take the babies to Target for the air conditioning and in-house Starbucks. Yes, it is kind of funny, if it isn't happening to you. In retrospect, it is even a little funny to me, but only a little because I know I will be living this again soon when Chris goes back to work.

This week I was able to successfully pump with Mira lying near me on the floor gurgling instead of crying. Hopefully I can do this with both kids if I can work out some kind of decent schedule. If I can't, the babies' days of mama milk are going to come to a quick end. Today was the first day that we ran out of milk before the end of the day. I knew this might happen, but at 2 pm when I made the decision to nap instead of pump, it felt like a good choice. At 10 pm it still feels like the right choice.

I actually have a bunch of frozen milk in the fridge, from last month when the milk was flowing freely and I was making more than Ian and Mira could drink. I am not sure why, but I seem to be getting a bit less from pumping these days. This may be just a normal slowdown that happens with longer-term pumping instead of breastfeeding, or it may be a byproduct of me pumping fewer times a day. The latter is likely, since I balance pumping with a desire to leave the house once in a while. We can bust out the frozen milk, but that takes a little prior planning. When one of the babies is hungry and screaming, it is quicker and thus better to mix formula than to defrost frozen milk.

In any case, I am sad about not being able to feed the babies mostly breastmilk, not out of a feeling that it is better (though all things being equal I think it is) but because formula is expensive. Wow, even at Costco prices, it pains me to shell out for something we can get (mostly) for free. (if you don't count the extra I eat to keep things going) And that's another thing - with pumping and nursing I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want. Enormous, greasy sandwiches, handfuls of trail mix at 3 am, nectarines and chocolate bars gobbled or savored. Feeding twins takes a lot of calories, and as someone who loves to eat this is an unexpected side bonus to breastfeeding.

We'll see what happens. For now I still have milk for the babies, and I hope I can continue feeding it to them at least until I go back to work at 6 months. After that who knows whether pumping will get easier or harder once I am away from Ian and Mira a bit more. I am not even sure if my milk will hold out that long. This whole twin thing is an ongoing lesson in giving up control, so why should this be any different?


  1. Oy. You're doing a great job.

    I only had one baby, a baby who started as a terrible nurser. And I was an inadequate milk producer - I never made enough for her. At the beginning, I tried pumping 7-8 times a day - with plenty of sessions where she was hollering while I jiggled the bouncy seat. Soon, though, I cut back to 4 pumps a day, and resigned myself to formula.

    About formula, sign yourself up for all the formula companies on-line. You'll get free samples. I totally gamed the system that way.

    Good luck. And don't beat yourself up.

  2. I understand how you feel, and I'm sorry. You've given them a great start, and even if you stopped right now, you'd be OK and so would they. But it's hard -- especially hard in Portland -- and I feel for you. (hugs)

  3. Good for you for sticking it out as long as you have. Pumping sucks. Pumping to the sound of a wailing baby is nearly impossible. I'm trying to dial down the linebacker appetite, now that I'm no longer pumping, but it's proving to be a little tricky. Have a greasy sandwich for me.

  4. I certainly don't mean to imply that I am beating myself up over this. All things being equal I would feed them breastmilk exclusively, but we have never been able to do that (it is formula at night always). I'm not worried that they are being shorted, just thinking about the complications of milk and twins...

  5. Oh man, I thought I had it bad with just one. Nursing's a bitch. I hope you figure it out before going back to work! Best of luck - even though you're not beating yourself up about it, it's still tough. UGH!

  6. I feel your pain! Luckily I got a prescription for the formula so at the moment we aren't shelling out the big bucks. I stopped pumping completely at 3 months and started phasing it out at 2 months. It was just too much! I have a bunch of frozen milk as well and am continuing to give them one bottle of breastmilk a day until I run out.

    I also hated giving up the extra calories I was burning! Now I'm starting Jenny Craig tomorrow to try and take off the 10 pregnancy pounds, 10 IVF pounds and 10 vanity pounds!

  7. Feeding twins is hard!
    Currently my guys are mostly breastfed because they won't take more than 2-3 oz in a bottle except on occasion. They'll top up, or hold off hunger until the next time I'm willing to feed them but aren't convinced bottles are the way to go. They're about to get a crash course in dealing though because I'm in a wedding on Saturday and will be away from them a lot Friday and Saturday!
    You've done a great job!

  8. Loved your last line. Even if you aren't feeling as generous with yourself as this post implies, the fact that you can consider it enough to write it down makes me happy.

  9. I just read about this http://blogtown.portlandmercury.com/BlogtownPDX/archives/2009/08/06/portland-opens-human-breast-milk-bank

  10. It ain't cheap, buying "liquid gold" - the milk is donated but not given out for free, sadly.

  11. And I thought supermum had it tough with one! We always topped up with formula as well, especially as supermum never really got into the pumping thing with either of ours. The level of organisation you're putting into this sounds truly superhuman...

  12. I also did not read any guilt into your post here, and I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that some assumed you were beating yourself up about this. A lot of the reactions I've gotten thus far as a mom seem to say: it's o.k. not to follow all the given recommendations of the day so long as you appear duly anxious and guilt-ridden, a reaction I still find odd.

    I'm right with you on enjoying those extra opportunities to eat that breastfeeding affords. Eating well, often, and a lot was totally awesome while it lasted!

  13. My mantra... All the commitment of breastfeeding all the inconvenince of bottle feeding, yeah and the $$$$!

    Feeding them is the first thing we do for them and so important. Luckily, wise one, there's lots of other things to do for them.

    Sending virtual baby car seat bucket swinging with the full strength of a haz-yoga day. Rock on mother-person.