Last week was the last time I nursed one of the boys. I really wanted to make it intentional and almost have it planned out. My supply had been running low for about a month and I was mostly nursing at night. So the plan was to feed each boy one last time as they woke up one morning. A morning I got to pick. A morning where I could just sit quietly and soak it all in one last time.
I can’t even tell you who I nursed last.
I can’t tell you when it was that I nursed them.
What I can tell you is that I am SO proud of myself.
Proud that I stuck it out the first three days literally spoon feeding them colostrum. Proud that I stuck it out when feeding was literally ALL I did the first 6 weeks. Proud that we got tandem feeding down. Proud that I’m ok with not being able to now.
Could I Breastfeed?
When I was pregnant I was already preparing myself mentally for the possibility that I wouldn’t be able to feed both boys for very long, if at all. It wasn’t really in my genes and I wasn’t sure what feeding two babies would be like, or even one for that matter. I studied blog after blog on tips for feeding twins, along with great strategies for pumping, bottle feeding, etc. I learned a lot. But more importantly it prepared me for any outcome.
I delivered the boys at 37 weeks, full term for the type of twin they are, but not full term for me and my body. I had no milk supply at all the day they were born. But again, this was something I felt prepared for.
We would try and nurse to help the boys get a latch, nothing. The nurses showed me how to hand pump onto a spoon so I could feed the boys whatever colostrum I could. I like to believe they were getting something. Then I would pump to help my supply come in. All while Erich or I would bottle feed the boys because again, were they getting anything?This whole process just being a foreshadow of the time and heartache I would put in.
This continued during the rest of the stay at the hospital and a day or two after. It felt like MONTHS until my supply came in, but in reality it was a week. A week old and the boys were finally able to latch and get something out of it.
All That Time
Once the boys and I were sure we were going to nurse the next hoop was figuring out a routine. Newborns eat every 1.5-2 hours, and each baby took at least 20 minutes to eat. I would track on my phone what side they ate and for how long. And then switch sides at the next feeding. According to the app I nursed one or the other 2,031 times.
Also according to the app, that was my day. I was constantly feeding one or the other. Especially as their bodies were figuring out how much to eat and when. All while I was trying to help them understand eat, play, sleep. A five minute nap, meant nursing a baby twice.
Thankfully we eventually got to the point where naps were more consistent and feedings would happen “in dominoes.” Where one baby would be ready to eat, and the other was ready shortly after. The pressure of getting to both babies at once was gone. But the desire to not be feeding all day was there, and very strong.
After a month or so people would ask all the time if I was tandem feeding. Oh how badly I wanted to tandem feed. It seemed like a dream. Not only as a mother wanting to be able to bond with both boys while they bond together. But also as a mother who wanted her day back.
The boys always seemed too small, or couldn’t latch at the angle they needed to, or I couldn’t get comfortable. It just wasn’t for us for awhile. Once it all clicked it was amazing. I could feed both boys at once. A big shout out to the Boppy Pillow for making it all possible. Seriously, I owe them one.
Tandem feeding lasted until the boys were about 4 months. I still was having the boys switch sides each feeding and at this point they became pretty efficient eaters. Nursing 1-10-15 min each time. We had finally figured it all out and had the perfect system. When we went in for their appointment they hadn’t grown enough.
The doctor told me to pump to see where my supply was at, and if it wasn’t enough, to start nursing and then giving bottles after. Well truth be told it wasn’t even enough for one baby. My heart broke. I felt so stupid and inadequate for not thinking to check my supply. I had just been so happy that we had FINALLY gotten tandem feeding down. And now we were sort of starting all over.
Nurse one baby, nurse the other baby, pump till your dry, bottle feed, wait two hours, nurse, nurse, pump, bottle, wait, nurse, nurse, etc. It was EXHAUSTING! I really don’t know how I did it. I literally couldn’t wear a bra because I wouldn’t be wearing it all day anyways.
Eventually I figured we might as well make it more efficient and pump to bottle feed. But most the time I wouldn’t have time to pump due to short naps (due to being hungry) and would end up breastfeeding a couple times a day still. Then I wasn’t able to pump enough to feed them during the day and night so I was nursing at night. Plus, it was so much easier to just bring the boys in bed with me to nurse.
I used supplements to help bring my supply back up and some friends had told me to not stress it and my supply would come back. It did, for a few weeks.
Nearing the The End
I’ll be honest the end is all such a blur. I don’t think we followed the same feeding routine more than once. It was all a mix of pumping, nursing and formula. Then at six months we started solids so it felt like the right time. It was easier to use formula, the boys were needing more and more ounces, and I figure the solids would take over their nutrition eventually.
My goal at the beginning was to go 6 months. I just wanted 6 months to prove to myself that I could do it. So I felt ready to be done. I had accomplished so many goals! I was able to do what I never thought I could. My body had served its amazing purpose once again.
So we did bottles during the day and nursing at night. There was one last time with Eli where he was hungry so I went to nurse and he got SO upset, wouldn’t even latch, and only took the bottle. I cried. I felt so rejected. He nursed the next day. Then there were a couple times where Clay would fuss with a bottle and latched so quickly. He would eat, though I doubted he really got anything. I cried. I felt so grateful, so sad, so torn, so much love, so bittersweet.
The twins are now 7.5 months. I stopped nursing them at night a couple weeks ago. We sleep trained and they no longer needed it. And my supply was clearly just done. Again, I’m not sure who got the last feeding, when it was, or for how long. But how deeply I wish I did.
The Happy Ending
So now we formula feed. And I’m loving it. Like the rest of feeding the twins, it’s a process figuring out what works for us and whats the most efficient. But I feel really good about it. I realized just today I still get to snuggle my babes. At the same time if I want too. And now, I get to bend over and kiss their foreheads. The boys still cover their eyes with their right hand, just like they did nursing. Their amazing daddy gets to hold them and snuggle them too. We all snuggle in bed on Saturday mornings eating our breakfasts. It’s our new perfect. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
That was our journey. Between nursing and figuring out sleeping, these two have taught me that motherhood is just one learning process after another. I love that I get to grow right along with my children. So now we move onto the next challenge.