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I don’t know why I feel like I owe it to The Internet to make an announcement about the status of my breasts and whether or not my babies continue to use them, but here we are.  It’s really more so that I can remember it when I am beating myself up about it later. Here is the truth.

I breastfed for the last time (ever) over the 4th of July weekend.  The situation had become so incredibly frustrating for all 3 of us that when coupled with my lack of output when pumping, it was unreasonable to continue.

We started supplementing with formula somewhere in the second month when my supply was decreasing and even with around the clock nursing and pumping for weeks it was obvious that the babies were starving.  This was 100% in line with every one of my other postpartum periods.  And speaking of periods, I got mine (and it was bad) and we saw my supply dip further.  At this point I tried fenugreek and steel cut oats and mother’s milk tea. None made a huge difference (except for the tea giving me hives) but did help to keep my supply stable…until I got mastitis.  My left breast, which had previously been my strong over-producer was clogged to the point of next to nothing coming out for a good week.  Although I nursed both babies on both sides during that whole ordeal, we never recovered.

From there we moved to a schedule where I was able to nurse the babies in the morning, once midday and before bed.  Pumping in between yielded maybe an ounce or 2 of milk in total–and that was on a good day.  Typically, I got half an ounce (ish) from one side and an ounce from the other.  It was a lot of time and effort spent for such little output.  This isn’t to say that I don’t think my babies are worth that time or effort but when you have twins, plus 3 other kids whose daily lives require managing, the extra time for pumping just didn’t exist.

My supply dropped further after going back to work–this is what happened every other time for me as well, so I expected it–and I had to begin supplementing the babies after each nursing session. They’d gotten quite grabby and squirmy as well, so a feeding session of nursing one, then the other and topping off with bottles could take up to 90 minutes. When they began fussing and screaming at the breast (often leaving me sobbing too), obviously put out by having to do so much work for so little reward, I made the decision to end it once and for all.

I owed it to my babies to try. I am proud for making it over 4 months. I’m glad I have pictures of them nursing.  I’m glad that I actually do have a small freezer stash from the early days when things went so well. Thanks to the stigma associated with formula feeding, I often feel guilty anyway. Knowing that these are my last babies, I do wish that it would have worked out to be doable longer, that I could have “cherished the moments”, but it wasn’t meant to be.  And I am (mostly) ok.

14 responses »

  1. I am definitely of the opinion that breastfeeding should be tried when it is an option, but I feel like so many sources make mothers feel extreme guilt over quitting or never starting. It is a great and healthy thing, but not for everyone. For some moms, it is relatively easy. For others, it is a huge source of stress. As an adoptive mom, it was never a (really viable) option for us. Did my kids get second-best by being exclusively formula-fed? Probably. But my options were limited and my kids are still perfectly fine.

  2. I just wanted to reach out to say, wow, nursing twins for 1 month, never mind 4 months, is a huge accomplishment. I struggle with low supply as well (I Amazon a case of 6 Mothers Milk tea bimonthly, hoping its helping a little) and it’s so frustrating. And I only have 1! We’ve been supplementing since week 2 and while I know it’s best for my baby (so she’s not starving!), there’s still that stigma out there about formula which sucks. And I’m mostly ok with it, too. I just wish there wasn’t so much judgement passed, especially by other moms. We’re all just doing the best we can.

    And PS – I was the one that asked you about how you went aboyt pumping at the concert on Twitter. I’m sorry. I have a girls day planned this weekend and was wondering how nursing moms did stuff without their babes in tow.

  3. I deeply dislike all the judgey shaming that goes on about formula. Formula is wonderful stuff.

  4. Super. HUMAN.

    I nursed single babies, with no supply issues and I still struggled. I am in AWE of you.

  5. Here’s the thing: you are a rock star. Nursing is work. Hard work, even if you don’t have supply issues or mastitis or other children to care for or or or *insert variable*.

    The fact that you tried, and not only TRIED (with TWO WHOLE ENTIRE BABIES!) but persevered IN SPITE OF a great deal of issues (all of which were totally beyond your control!) makes you amazing.

    Here’s the other thing: it’s perfectly okay to feel whatever you feel. Your feelings are absolutely valid. And this particular matter has complex emotions attached. It’s okay to feel them. But there is no need (in my mind, at least) that you should feel guilty for one iota for doing whatever you did, whenever you did it. You, absolutely, are doing the right thing for *you and your particular babies/family as a whole*. There is no shame in that.

    What you did takes courage and will and so much strength. All of this. I am in awe of you.

  6. As a fellow twin mom, whose health didn’t even allow me to breastfeed longer than a week, I want to both affirm your feelings as normal and allowed, and also tell you that when you are ready to let go of the guilt, you absolutely should. Screw those formula cans for saying “breast is best” right on them, which literally made me sob when I saw it, and screw anyone who gives you any guff. You’ve made the right choices for you and your family, and what anyone else would choose for themselves or their family doesn’t matter a bit. Ain’t no shame in the formula game.

  7. As you may recall, I have been there–though without the added complexity of trying to nurse TWO babies. I remember the guilt and feelings of failing my baby and my family when it didn’t work out for me to EBF the way I’d hoped. But those feelings are so far in the past now, it’s amazing to think it was even me who felt them. It helped a lot that when you really dig into the scientific literature, you discover that all the conventional wisdom about breastmilk being better than formula is really negligible at best when it comes to the actual data. So no, it’s not worth your time to pump small amounts of breastmilk when formula is a completely acceptable alternative. Your kids will benefit far more from your sanity and involvement than from a couple ounces of breastmilk. You are doing awesome! And your kids, who’ve all been down this path with you before, are fantastic, happy, and healthy.

  8. You did an amazing job. It is no small thing to breastfeed ANY baby, let alone twins. Breastfeeding my twins took many many trips to the doctor/lactation consultant, thousands of ounces of generously donated breastmilk, many containers of formula, pumping incessantly, eating endless bowls of steelcut oats with nutritional yeast, and drinking endless cups of mother’s milk tea. I don’t think I was successful because of all this work I put into it, I think I was successful because I had the time and the means to devote to the work. I am a SAHM, I sent my big kid to pre-K 3 days a week all day, when the babies were 3mos, we hired a part-time nanny.
    We all do the best we can to make the choices that feel right for us and our children. All choices involve at least some sacrifice. I wish the contingent of belligerent LLL evangelists could recognize this instead of attacking hard-working moms for their choices.

  9. I think you did great. Whenever those nasty voices start up in your head, tell them I said to shush. You are an amazing mom.

  10. Here is the thing that makes me grumpy about breast feeding. Well, one of the things. The first part? It’s all struggle and barely any enjoyment. The first few weeks, even with just one baby, are fraught and sleepless and clumsy and painful. Then, once you maybe get the hang of it, it’s still ALL THE TIME and holy crap you’re tired and also it’s physically exhausting, holding those increasingly heavy but still floppy babies, helping them position and latch properly, and they are still inefficient so it takes YEARS for just one nursing session. And the constant worrying about supply. Ahhhhh! It very much seems like the peaceful, enjoyable caricatures of nursing are from some point AFTER the crazy, hazy newborn days. But if you have supply issues? Too bad, you never get there, you just get struggle, and guilt.

    I made it to five months with Eliza before throwing in the towel, and oh it was the right decision, but so much guilt! All self imposed, as my (then absent) rational brain knows very well that the benefits of breast milk over formula are minute, imperceptible on an individual level, and that it certainly wasn’t as if we hasn’t tried.

    You’ve gone above and beyond, Sara. I can’t believe people with twins, let alone twins AND other kids AND jobs, manage to nurse at ALL. Like, the logistics of it just completely baffle me. So, basically I think you are a super hero or possibly a time lord.

  11. I think this is the consensus that you did a great job. I can’t believe you nursed two babies at the same time for that long. Go Sara!!

    That said, I once again have supply issues. I did with Zachariah and had high hopes that I wouldn’t have any problems this time. Here we are. Same problems and I knew it about about week 1 or 2. I have tried everything, but my body won’t cooperate. I know from last time that I needed a period of mourning the loss of breastfeeding when we stopped. It took me realizing that I needed that to move on. It’s still sad to me, but it’s reality and I’m thankful that I am able to feed my baby in other ways.

    So far this time we’re still breastfeeding. But like I said, I’ve had issues from the start. I have to supplement. He doesn’t get enough at even one feeding, so I supplement with formula at each feeding. I know that at some point he’s going to give up on the nursing because it’s so much work for so little. There are times when it’s gotten almost to that point, but I’ve pushed through. Surprisingly we’ve just passed the point where Zachariah self-weaned. I’m hoping we can go as long as possible. Even though he’s only getting a little from me, I think it’s great that I can do that much for him. And when he’s done, I’ll be sad, but I’ll know that (like you) I gave it my all.

  12. Pingback: Thoughts on Twin Parenting–Month 5 | Incubation Nation

  13. here. Any way keep up wrinting.|


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