Hi everyone. I’m Janet, mom to 6-month-old twin boys Teddy and Holden. After a long journey getting to the point of bringing healthy babies home from the hospital, breastfeeding was our next, and biggest challenge. The good news is that my boys have been thriving on nearly 100% breastmilk for the past 6 months. The bad news is that we never really became successful at nursing, so I have become an “exclusive pumper,” which is just as glamorous as it sounds.
I first wrote about my breastfeeding journey at the four month mark on my own blog, Love is Blonde. At that point, my boys were still nursing a few times each day, and getting the rest of their milk from a bottle. I called it “recreational nursing” because it was more of a bonding experience than anything. I was topping off their nursing sessions with bottles of expressed milk at nearly every feed. It was taking up all of my time just to nurse, bottle feed, and then pump for two babies!
Since that post we transitioned ever so gently to just pumping and bottles. I resisted it for so long, but I know I gave nursing everything I could for four months.
Now our daily schedule revolves around naps, playtime, and eating, and I am able to pump at (mostly) convenient times. We generally all wake up at 6am, and I give one baby a bottle, my husband gives the other baby a bottle, and I pump at the same time. Then I pump again around 11am, 4pm, 8pm, and 11pm — “just” five times per day. This is a HUGE improvement from pumping 7-8 times per day! My 11pm pump is usually my only alone time for the day and I can catch up on emails, twitter and my DVR. Also, all of these times are flexible, as long as I don’t go more than 5 or 6 hours between pumps.
One of the things I worried about as we moved to exclusive pumping was if I would still feel bonded to my babies during meal time. Turns out I did NOT need to worry about that. In fact, once the pressure for them to nurse went away, things got a lot better. I used to get my feelings hurt when the babies would reject my boobs. Irrational, I know, but it was hard to see them react to my breasts with crying, laughter, or refusal, and then happily devour a bottle the next second.
Now I’m faced with how long to keep pumping, when to wean, etc. It’s more emotional than I thought it would be. I’m proud to have made it to the six month mark and I know we will go a bit longer, but probably not to a full year. I’d rather be on the floor playing with my babies than hooked up to a pump and watching them play from afar. But, I’d still like to give them some breastmilk so we will keep going until it just doesn’t make sense anymore.
I learned a couple of things along the way and the one that sticks with me is that even when it’s easy, it’s not easy. By that I mean, even if breastfeeding is going well (supply is good, babies are good at it, etc.), it’s still hard work. It’s around the clock without any breaks. Things happen — clogs and supply dips and a zillion other things. Even the “best” breastfeeding experiences are not easy. I had to really learn and accept this so that I could stop idealizing breastfeeding, stop mourning my own breastfeeding shortcomings, and start accepting where I was in the process and celebrating what I was able to provide my babies.
My hope is that every mom is able to feel proud of what she does for her babies, no matter how she feeds them. We all want to have happy, healthy, growing babies and there are many paths to get to that point. My path was a bit of a crazy one due to twins and prematurity, and I’m finally at a point where I am truly happy with where we are with breastfeeding.
Thank you so much for listening to my story, and for all of the mamas who shared their stories as well!
***If you are a mommy who’s baby had a Milk Soy Protein Intolerance (MSPI) or similar food allergy or food intolerance I would love to hear from you and have you share your story. Email me at thegirlintheredshoes @ gmail