**Warning: this post contains pictures of breastfeeding...all tastefully done and don't show anything, but a warning must be issued anyway**
All I can say is THANK GOD I had twins second. Because if my first pregnancy had been twins, I NEVER would have stuck it out and tried to breastfeed these girls. I'm so glad that I nursed Avery for 14 months and it was such a good experience because if trying to feed these hippos was my first go at nursing, I would have quit when they were 3 days old.
We had a rocky, rocky start. Kinley was in the NICU for 4 days and Caris was in the NICU for 8 days. It was a rough road, but in a nut shell, I was discharged from the hospital on friday afternoon (had the babies on wednesday afternoon) and left both my babes in the hospital IN THE NURSERY because they had both been discharged from the NICU. We spent friday night at home thinking that both kiddos were coming home the next day. When we woke up saturday morning, the NICU doc had called and told us they had done poorly overnight with their temps dropping and they weren't eating.
I ended up staying the next 2 nights by myself in a courtesy room. And it was awful. I had an alarm set on my phone for every 3 hours. The kids were eating at 2, 5, 8, and 11. I'd set my alarm, stumble into the NICU and pump. Take Kinley's temp, change her, feed her, tuck her back in. Same with Caris. The whole process took about an hour. Then I'd be back in my room about an hour later and pass out until the alarm went off 2 hours later. Troy stayed home with Avery and my mom and I would come home for dinner every night for about 2 hours and speed back to make the next feeding. Those hospital grade pumps were the BEST. It was a medela symphony. I looked it up online to purchase one...$1800?!?!?!? Forget it. I have a medela pump in style back pack from pumping after I went back to work from Avery and it's been working ok.
Anyway, we finally got both kids home and I was so frustrated with pumping and giving them bottles only. I was paranoid because they told us exactly how many milliliters the kids needs to drink per day and the average per feeding for them to gain weight. If they didn't drink their intake needed, I would FREAK OUT. And they weren't nursing for the following reasons:
1. With us monitoring every tiny drop they ate, nursing wasn't possible.
2. Caris was a HORRIBLE latch. Her mouth was so tiny and then when we mouth would open, it was like her chin would drop back and I couldn't get the right contact.
3. Kinley would latch but then was the laziest sucker and couldn't get enough before she fell asleep because nursing was too exhausting for her.
4. My milk didn't let down immediately and they weren't patient enough for it to come down and wouldn't stay latched on (if I could get them latched on at all). Let the screaming ensue and FRANTIC head shaking begin.
5. Both babies got lazy. The bottles are easier to drink out of than the breast.
6. The most infuriating of all: they preferred the taste of formula over breastmilk. We were doing half breastmilk and half formula in all the bottles and slowly weaned then down to full breast milk in the bottles.
So I was hooked up to a pump all the time for about a month (the good news is, my freezer supply is HUGE). If they were bigger and weighed more, I probably would have been like, "I'm starving you out. Eventually, you'll be so hungry that you'll breastfeed." I really wanted them to nurse because it would cut my "awake in the middle of the night time" down by almost 30 minutes without the pumping session. I finally said enough is enough and looked up the Las Vegas Le Leche League meet ups to get some advice and support.
I found a meeting within 2 days and headed over by myself (no babies with me). Oh. My. Lord. I was prepared for moms nursing their babies at the meeting, but not for 3-4 year olds tandem nursing with infants. It kinda freaked me out. I know that "breast is best" and I shouldn't judge people's breastfeeding choices, but when a 3.5 year old walks up to mom and PULLS DOWN HER SHIRT in front of everyone and then stands there in front of the chair to nurse, it's just too much. Anyway...
They had great advice for me. They told me to just toss the bottles completely and spend a few days at home, in bed with my babies. Feed them on demand and ignore the 3 hour schedule. Feed them before they are frantic and impatient because they will be harder to latch and fatigued from crying.
The next day started nursing boot camp. It was so hard NOT knowing exactly how much they were eating. But they were still peeing and pooping and sleeping the same so I just decided to let it go. And cut out all formula.
The thing that made the biggest difference was someone staying up to do the last feeding of the day. My mom did it the 5 weeks that she was here. I would nurse at the 8-9 feeding and then my mom would give them pumped milk at midnight. I went to bed every night about 9 and mom would swaddle them and put them in the twin bassinet in our room. They would wake up around 3 and I would nurse again. It made a HUGE difference for me when I was able to get a straight 5-6 hour stretch of sleep. AMAZING. Troy still stays up and does it on his days off to make life much better. When I have to do all the night time feedings, it's rough. Like really rough. Sometimes now they can stretch their feedings to 4 hours, but it's not quite consistent.
I am really terrible at nursing them both at the same time. The only way I can do it is if Caris is latched on first because she is SO difficult to latch. I nurse them both in "football" hold. But even then, if one starts coughing or spits up, it messes up the other one and it's just a mess because I have to attend to the coughing one and let go of the other. Their necks aren't quite strong enough to stay latched on without tons of support behind their necks. They both just get a more quality nurse if I nurse them separately.
It's been a little tough with Avery because she has become whiny since they were born. "Help me!!!" "Snuggle me!!!" "I can't do it." It's like she made the connection that they get attention when they cry, so she cries about everything. It's driving me crazy because when I'm in the middle of my 40 minute nursing block (20 minutes for each baby), Avery wants help with everything or is having a crisis or needs to be wiped on the potty. She's been really great about putting pacifiers in a baby's mouth if I'm sitting to nurse and seems like she wants to help and lets us know if she thinks there is something wrong. She also "nurses" her baby and even uses my nursing pillow which is pretty adorable.
I started back at work about 3 weeks ago (when the babies were about 6 weeks old) and that has been good so far. I pump halfway through my day and get about 5-6oz out of each breast. I am able to replace all of the milk use throughout a full work day from the freezer. Troy and Aurora (our nanny) use the frozen milk to feed them (so it doesn't go bad) and rotate all of the new milk in to be used after the old stuff is gone. It's working ok now and hopefully I'll never have to toss anything...
We haven't had to supplement since we did breast milk boot camp. We had their 2 month follow up appointments with the pediatrician on Christmas Eve. Caris's birth weight was 4lbs 14 oz and she was at 8lbs and 8oz. Kinley was born at 5lbs 4 oz and is up to 9lbs 1oz. The pediatrician told me that I was doing amazing (always feels good to be validated) and to keep it up. She also said that if I haven't had to supplement up until now, that hopefully I wouldn't have to. BIG SMILES ALL AROUND!
I have been taking fenugreek to keep up my supply just in case and I usually have to pump in the mornings because skipping the midnight feeding can make me engorged in the morning sometimes. But overall, no crazy leaking like I had with Avery. Maybe your boobs "just know" once you've done this once.
I'm really hoping to keep up for at least a year. People keep acting shocked that I am breastfeeding twins. Which is understandable because breastfeeding ONE baby is really difficult. But like I said at the beginning of this post, it is so much easier because I've already breastfed one. I am so thankful that it's been alright so far. I really do just LOVE breastfeeding. I love when my little loves stare up at me and I love snuggling them so close. I feel so differently about these two than I did about Avery. It's like I know that we are done and not having any more kids. My attitude is so different. I don't care if I'm tired. I don't care if I'm up all night nursing. It's so easy to look back on Avery as an infant and see how fast she grew up. I know that the sleepless nights are short lived and nursing these babies will go SO fast. It's so much easier to enjoy the night time snuggles knowing this is the last time I'll do it. I'm just so thankful that it's working and I don't want to quit. Yet.