Posts Tagged ‘breastfeeding’

Which body parts, exactly, make milk?

August 1, 2012

The first time TMD held a crying Coconut, a drop of milk came out of her breast. That is pretty incredible, is it not?

Now, we didn’t choose to have TMD feed the babies because it was an impossible situation. I was completely crippled and she was my full time carer, as well as us being first time parents with two tiny infants we were trying to not accidentally kill in some way.

I hope this third baby speeds to us quickly, and I can’t wait for TMD to feed him/her. I also think we may invest in a pump, or rather beg people to get us one, so that Snort and Coconut can share in the milky goodness. Snort has big problems with dairy, though not technically allergic. And Coconut?

Sister is obsessed with breastfeeding. The other day we were having a quick cuddle before bed, and she latched on to me. Ah, the sweet memories of unexpected nipple stinging. I was in two minds – creeped out because, well, it is a long time since someone sucked my boob and expected nutrition to flow out, but also thinking that if breastfeeding had worked, there was no reason to think she might not still be feeding even now. And it was kind of sweet.

At playgroups and toddler clubs we went to in the past, I was by far the most out there parent. Slings, cosleeping, no crying it out, and very enthusiastically supportive of breastfeeding and cloth nappies. I was the hippy. My kids wore amber necklaces and had their various dolls in little slings. We walked everywhere, them with their own little backpacks like mine, and no pushchairs in our lives since they were around 15 months old. I did not support physical violence as a form of discipline. I was very laid back, but also very responsive to my children’s needs.

But at the home education group we go to on Thursdays? Girl, most everyone there is doing attachment parenting. Amber necklaces are not a signal to hunt for the parent of the other child in hopes of finding a like minded friend, because every fucking kid has them. And you know what else?

I am probably the most mainstream person there. I didn’t do elimination communication. One of my kids is in disposable nappies. And some of these people are exclusively into homeopathy. Or make their own probiotic food. And all the kids appear to be breastfed, including the little three year old who has a mother I love.

So Coconut is seeing a lot of boobs. A lot. They are flying and flapping free everywhere you turn. I guess it is natural she wants to do what her friends do – though it should also be said she has tried to feed from both of us, through our clothes, many times over the years. So does she remember breastfeeding? Or is it a natural impulse? I don’t know.

On a related note, we saw a magic show last November where the guy made milk come out of his elbow. Since that point she occasionally tries to suck her own elbow.

That’s my girl.

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Breastfeeding – it’s not just for humans.

October 21, 2011

Tuesday night Coconut held her Rabbit up to her tummy. ‘Milk,’ she explained. ‘Milk like Walnut.’

‘You’re feeding Rabbit milk from your boobies?’ I asked. ‘Like Walnut has?’

‘Yes.’ She tenderly shifted Rabbit so his mouth lined up with her nipple and cuddled him close. We then had a little conversation about something, then she shifted him to her other breast. After a few minutes more, she said, ‘All done!’

It was gorgeous.

This is the reason it’s great to breastfeed in front of kids. Because Snort and Coconut’s best friend is breastfeeding (he turns two in November), she and he get the wonderful opportunity to regularly witness breastfeeding. Coconut is very interested and has tried to latch on TMD in the bathtub, and she has said, ‘Milk, Mama’ while laying on my tummy.

They both understand you can feed a ‘baby’ (the name for any child their age or younger!) milk from the mummy’s breasts. And, of course, that very special Rabbits also benefit from that milk.

twitterbirth.

October 2, 2010

If I had my new Smartphone back when I gave birth, I wonder what an impact that would have had on me. I do know that the crushing loneliness – and even fear – I felt when TMD had to go home each evening would have been lessened by being able to be in touch. I could have blogged, I could have tweeted, I could have chatted.

Of course I think about in terms of breastfeeding as well – would it have made a difference if people had been tweet-pressuring me (out of love)? I’m kind of glad it wasn’t an option. The more I read the more I am flabbergasted.

When milk first comes in your baby may have trouble eating because there is so much of it? WOW. I know when Aussie was first feeding Walnut here, milk was flying out of her boobs like a hose – it was awesome in the truest sense of the word, the power of her body to create and sustain life.

My boobs didn’t do that. I think what happened was that they made milk, but then all the severed milk ducts meant the milk had nowhere to go. And as my boobs were not regularly emptied by babies, my supply dropped rapidly as there was no ‘reason’ to make milk that would not be eaten.

All that aside, even when my milk did come in I never got engorged. At all. Yes, my boobs felt heavier and bigger – but nothing like the description of other friends I have. So maybe my boobs weren’t making a ton of milk anyway.

The interesting thing, to me, is that I can think about this without it hurting anymore. I am happy with the way we are raising – and feeding – our kids.

But still….I would’ve liked the constant flow of support the internet would have meant at 2 in the morning as I was crying in pain and too scared to try to make it to the bathroom without a wheelchair. Or at least the knowledge that if I wanted the support, it was there.

All of that aside, maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t have my lovely phone. Because my focus was totally on our babies and our family – and I know myself. If my phone had had all the superpowers it does now, I would have been up tweeting instead of sleeping. But maybe not….after all, I was sharing that hospital bed with two little wonders. It’s only when ‘well meaning’ midwives put them back in the fishbowl next to my bed that I felt less than happy.

Ah, how we see-saw. I guess there’s no way to really know what it would have been like. Perhaps I’ll get the chance to find out one day.

Stuff I enjoyed reading this week.

August 26, 2010

So, links to things I enjoyed reading this week….

First up, how do you feel about some of those obnoxious ‘like’ things on Facebook? Ignoring the fact that the vast majority are spelled wrong and have the grammar skills of a 2 month old, some of the messages in them are quite appalling.

One that particularly jumps out to annoy my ass is ‘I’d rather go to jail for spanking my kids than for them to go to jail because I didn’t.’ Yeah. Well, Code Name: Mama has countered this DISlikey with some stark statistics that I found (obvious and) interesting. A great thing to trot out next time someone says you are being too soft on your kids.

Next up? I’m sure most of us have heard of skin-to-skin, or kangaroo, care. This is encouraged as a matter of fact after birth here in Country B, and research has shown it to be a huge benefit to preemies. That being said, when I was pregnant we were told if the babies were born early we wouldn’t be ‘allowed’ to ‘handle them’ much. Oh yeah? This mum in Australia gave birth to twins at 27 weeks – and her son was declared dead. After two hours of skin-to-skin cuddles, talking, and a wee snifter of breastmilk, well…a miracle.

And the third and final link of the evening: babywearing. I think we all know of a certain babywearing blog focusing on wearing twins that put up lots of cool videos and informative posts, but it’s sort of defunct now that the said mama is no longer really babywearing. *ahem*  That certain mama is still getting emails and messages from around the world, and the word ‘guru’ has been bandied about. I…I mean, that mama….thought she would link you through to the woman who was her guru.

This page has tons and tons of videos showing different wrap carries. Many are for wearing two babies/toddlers/children, but there are also a shitton focusing on just one kid. We’re talking front carries, back carries, torso carries – you name it, it’s probably here. She also invented the double tandem wrap carry that I used most often with Snort and Coconut. Go. Be amazed. Learn.

So. Did you see anything on the ol’ interwebs that you think myself or the readers of this blog might be interested in? I know this circumcision decision flow chart was my favourite image of the week – aside from the gazillion pictures of my own kids I took!

Thoughts on breastfeeding: the past, and the possible future.

August 23, 2010

I don’t know if we’ll have more kids naturally. I have been gung ho. A couple of months ago I was convinced it was the ‘perfect’ time to get pregnant – and now, wow am I happy I’m not. Chasing after these two with a baby cooking? Ha.

The past month has been killer. August is always a big month – lots of sad anniversaries. But it also is our anniversary, and now the birthday of Snort and Coconut. Just like life, August is good and bad.

I wonder if my ambiguity about pregnancy is why I am also lackluster about weight loss. I know I have to lose all my weight to be able to donate eggs again, and I certainly think we’d go the IVF/eggshare route again.

I’ve been thinking a lot about stuff. Breastfeeding….a lot.

How they got sunken fontanels (sp?), how they were so dehydrated, how they did not pee….except little crystals and blood. How their weight plummeted well below a loss of 15%.  How it kept dropping.   Breastfeeding was the best thing ever for me, but perhaps not for my babies. I don’t know if I would try again.

Certainly the suckling has been known to help regenerate nerves, and make breastfeeding after a reduction a possibility in second, third, fourth pregnancies. Certainly I would want to breastfeed, but it would be an act of courage as the last time it hurt me so badly when it failed.

I’m happy now. We formula fed our babies and, well, it was good. As I’ve said before, there are good things about bottle feeding – please don’t jump down my throat or criticize, because unless you have been desperate to breastfeed and medically could not, you don’t know what it’s like. I chose (finally) to forgive my body and move on. To accept things as they were, and to be grateful for how my cherished kids were developing.

The next time around I would meet with a lactation consultant before birth, to have an action plan in place. I know giving a bottle fucks with milk production in normal boobies, but with my boobies and history, I would not withhold a bottle to ‘just see,’ since my kids got pretty fucking sick from my inability to give them milk this time around.

All the buzz on Twitter lately is about milk donation. I applaud those who donate, as well as those mums who need a bit of help and have the wherewithal to get connected to resources. I don’t know that milk banks exist here, but again – I’d do some research before another baby came along, even to make some informal connections.

I think parents hold so fast, so tight, to their ideals – the way they do it is so good, feels so right, that they want to tell everyone else about it. Certainly I was like that with babywearing and baby led weaning. But sometimes that tips too far over the edge into condemnation.

The number of twitter convos I’ve had….

ie

Them: There is no reason EVERY mother cannot breastfeed her baby.

Me: Um, actually I couldn’t breastfeed. I was medically unable to.

Them: Bullshit. The only excuse is if you have some sort of disease you might pass on or something.

Me: Well, actually not. I had a breast reduction and the surgery damaged my breasts too badly to be able to feed my children.

Them: *backtracking wildly* Oh, yeah, well, I mean that’s different. That’s medical.

Me: *sigh*

I am the sort of person who will always speak up. Hell, if I was breastfeeding I’d do it outloud, so proud, in public. I’d get a couple of those boobie beanies and tandem nurse any old place. But I think it’s ridiculous how shamed and horrible I felt about offering bottles in public.

It’s interesting how the internet has skewed my perceptions. My online connections are usually all AP (attachment parenting) people. You know, people more likely to be into natural parenting, babywearing, cosleeping, breastfeeding, anti-CIO, etc. Most cloth diaper and some are anti-vax.

These people are so accepting of me and my non-boobie milk, but only once I’ve gone through and explained why I’m not breastfeeding. It’s like being gay – I come out again and again as a formula feeder. I used to sort of keep my mouth shut, which goes against my personality. But now I can say, well, you know know? I forumla feed. Breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone. I had a surgery when I was 19; I could beat myself up about that for eternity, but what is the point?

It’s so possible to be AP when bottle feeding. Not all formula feeders are propping bottles up into the mouths of babes strapped into carseats and ignored. I held my babies every feed – despite having one of me and two of them. They cuddled into me, and still do, to eat. My respect for breastfeeding and all the benefits is deep, and I emulated them as much as possible – we only fed on demand (they choose when and how much milk to eat, we do not encourage them to have more or discourage them from eating), and now we do baby led weaning and will led them decide when is the right time to transition away from milk feeds.

We do it as naturally as possible, as gently as possible, as respectfully as possible.

If only all parents offered other parents the same treatment.

I know it’s hard. Hell, I judge people. When the babies were first born, someone I went to school with sent me a link via facebook for this feeding thing (the assumption being there would be no breastfeeding, which is NOT a good thing!). It was like a pacifier connected to a tube that dipped into a bottle. She attached a picture of her three week old infant left alone on the side of a swimming pool while she and her hubby frolicked in the water.

Yes, I judge. Yes, I am horrified.

But what is my judgment going to do to her? Nothing. Offering shame and condemnation is not helpful; education is, but only in the right circumstances. I’ve had lectures (again, via my pal twitter) about formula being poison, about bottle feeding moms not giving a damn about their kids’ health, etc. And then always, always, the backtracking when they learn about my situation. Always the embarassed, ‘Oh, I don’t judge people who can’t feed because, like, they can’t.’

Well, you do. You do judge when you presume to talk about how formula is akin to the coming of the anti-christ.

Did I love breastfeeding? Yes. Did it work for us? No. It (well, not breastfeeding, but the failure of breastfeeding) made my children sick.

I’m sorry. I don’t know how this got so long or so rambling, or what was my original point. I think somewhere in here I meant to say that if I get pregnant again, I’m going to be a lot more gentle and forgiving of myself this time around.

Unexpected joy.

July 19, 2010

My pregnancy, birth, and post-birth experiences were not what I wanted. I pictured a blissful giant bump and myself, skipping lightly through fields. I imagined an all natural vaginal birth. And I certainly anticipated carrying on breastfeeding for longer than I did.

But for all my hopes and wishes, here I am with two gorgeous babies who’ve just turned 11 months – and everything is good.

I was signed off sick from work at 19 weeks (and let’s be honest, prior to 19 weeks I was working half days or calling in sick due to the extreme vomit fest). This was the best thing that could have happened. I was given months and months of unbridled napping, eating, and resting. All my energy went towards growing my babies, and I do credit the months of rest and weight gain for going full term with two very healthy and singleton sized babies.

My birth? A planned c section, since both babies were breech. It was the best experience of my life. Our surgical and midwifery team (and the other 7000 people there) did everything possible to make us feel welcome, calm, and in control. I laughed so much during the birth. And afterwards I was able to focus on our babies while they did their business behind the curtain. Staff were there just to hold the second baby close to me while TMD held the first. My c section likely prevented me worse injury from my SPD as well.

And the breastfeeding? I loved it fiercely, but you know what? I like formula feeding. Go ahead – shoot me. I was physically unable to breastfeed (though remain hopeful that all the nursing in the first few weeks will help my nerves regenerate and I may be able to breastfeed any following babies!) and SO UPSET about switching to bottles. On reflection, I am grateful.

Bottle feeding allowed TMD to feed her children just as much as I did. Bottle feeding allowed us more rest. Bottle feeding has grown my children strong and healthy, and I no longer feel torn up inside about not breastfeeding.

Nothing turned out how I wanted it to, but now that I look back, I am happy everything happened the way it did. It has got me to this point: two little babies smiling at me, cramming wraps and apples in their mouths, playing peek-a-boo with each other almost constantly.

There are few things in life we can definitely control – particularly in regards to possible pregnancy or birth complications. But we can control our reactions to these things, and I choose gratitude. Again and again, I choose to be thankful for every step that led me to a peaceful place where I have forgiven my body for not letting me breastfeed, for breaking down under the strain of a multiple pregnancy.

How can I not?

I am blessed.

I sit here, carefully watching my children out of the corner of my eye. One on each side of a giant toy, swinging from side to side to peek at each other and boom with laughter. One running from the other who is giving gleeful chase. My lounge is cluttered with toys, my heart is crowded with love.

This is how it was supposed to happen. I was supposed to be this happy, and I am. I will not stop giving thanks for this life, for these children, for the possibility of more perfect moments that I did not plan or expect.

You bookend my life. Thank you.

September 9, 2009

IMG_1455

On the day you were born,
we brought some music into the room. On
a fluke
the evening before, we added the song
‘Beautiful Suprise’ to the CD.

And you are.

A beautiful surprise, I mean. The first moment
I saw you, I was flat on my back
with my head turned to the left,
your mum looking at you like
she’d known you her whole life. And
she looked at me
like I was a miracle for
making you.

Little boy, with your soft
deep gold hair, your heavy bottom,
your soft soft skin.

Little girl, our coconut,
with your rosy perfect lips
and tiny curled toes.

How could I have known this, known you,
imagined what it would be like?
Every day I learn you, get
to know you, watch you watching me.

I hang suspended in these moments,
in no rush to lose them to
walkingandtalking,
just here for this exact time,
in this exact way.

IMG_1569

Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment on my entry yesterday. Last night as my breasts let drip after drop fall onto my stomach, as I looked at them in the mirror before gently tucking them back into bra, I wondered for a moment if I was crying. Your comments kept me sane on a sad, sad day. I read them each about twenty times, and no doubt will go back to read them again and again in the coming weeks until I come to terms with how things are.

But you know, having this son and this daughter,
I am grateful.

IMG_1535

Breastfeeding twins.

September 8, 2009

Today is, quite possibly, the last day my children will receive my breastmilk. At exactly four weeks old, they are too young to get anything but the best from me. But the past month has made me search and explore what my idea of ‘the best’ is. It’s been painful, joy filled, confusing.

When the twins were born, they were both very healthy weights. By five days old, both had lost dangerous amounts of weight. This was due to a number of things we knew then, as well as discovered afterward. My past breast reduction did cause a problem with milk supply and delivery, my little boy has a tongue tie, my SPD was not healing because breastfeeding required me to stay in the same position most of the time. And there’s that word: time.

In a land without two infants, time is plentiful. (Or at least I imagine.) I have never had just one baby, so I have little to compare having two with. My mother in law is here again; she described caring for the twins as ‘relentless.’  A harsh word, perhaps, for something I embrace….but also true.

We were forced to stay in hospital because of the weight loss, and emergency measures put into place. We were forced to start topping up, which I resisted, cried about, felt like a failure because of. Words like ‘dehydration’ and ‘failure to thrive’ were said. So were words like, ‘You have done better at breastfeeding than most mums with only one.’ None of these words made me feel good. It was a huge responsibility for two mums with no idea what they were doing, really, to make emotional and demanding choices when there was so much at stake.

When we got home, the topping up lessened, and they lost weight again. We paid for a renowned lactation consultant to come to our home and help us; she was fabulous. She said we would need to continue topping up, taught us ways to make their feeding more efficient, spoke with me about ways to get them more breastmilk.

I felt very positive when she left, but it took fifty minutes to latch on my son that evening. I was in a huge amount of pain from the SPD, I was tired, I was emotional. We caved and gave them bottles, and my god, it was great. I felt like a sinner of the worst degree. Relief and regret were there in equal portions.

But: time.

In the three hour cycle that is an infant’s life (and ours were on a longer cycle at first, even), it is tough. If your babies are not synchronised, you breastfeed a baby, top that baby up, breastfeed another baby, top that baby up. Then you are expected to pump for twenty minutes. By the time you have done all of this, you have exactly twenty minutes before the whole schedule starts again. Sleeping, showering, eating, coherent thinking – there is no room for it.

If your babies ARE synchronised, well.

We need two adults for breastfeeding. Our little girl latched on excellently, but both babies were slow and sleepy feeders. And then there were the problems with my breasts. Feeding one baby required me to latch him/her on and stimulate them to keep them feeding; TMD was required to manipulate my breasts in various ways in order to encourage the milk to keep flowing. Imagine doing this for TWO babies at the same time; you cannot. It’s simply not possible. So our daughter would get ignored and often fall asleep at the breast, while our son required both of us to even latch him on.

I don’t want to write too much, because I feel like crying. My mother in law is out pushing the babies around the neighborhood right now. Just before they left, they each had the last bottle of expressed breastmilk. I wish I had been able to feed this to them both, to watch my body nourish them in this way for the last time.

I only pumped once yesterday. I did not pump today. I am still feeling slightly tortured about it; my breasts and heart ache.

But ‘best’? Best is a mother that can walk. Best is babies who are gaining weight and not at risk. Best is having time to cuddle and love the babies, not spending every minute of the day and night in a military operation, forcing the babies and my body together in a way that soothed us all emotionally, but left us all physically drained. Best is not weeping in the middle of the night because I cannot produce enough food for my children.

Two sessions of fifteen minute pumping a day takes about an hour in total. From this, I do not get enough milk to feed them even one full bottle. Not even half a bottle. It is a lot of time spent tied to an expensive machine while TMD cares for the babies.

I just ate a Snickers bar – my first peanuts in months. Does this mean I will not pump? I don’t see what carrying on the facade of one pump a day will do, it will only draw out my physical discomfort while not actually producing any real milk. In this struggle to do what is best for my children, I took drugs to increase my milk supply, I pumped hours and hours with a hospital grade pump, I cried on the phone to the lactation consultant again and again, I felt crazy and depleted and hopeful and crushed. I still feel many of these things, but in reality, I am now walking in the house without crutches. I am enjoying feeding my babies, talking and having little staring contests. TMD is able to feed her children as well. We have time to (occasionally) talk. At nighttime, we might have the chance to hold hands while we both sleep for half an hour.

I don’t know what ‘best’ is. I won’t pretend I didn’t want to exclusively breastfeed both babies until they were six months old and solids entered their mouths. I also won’t pretend that it wasn’t hard…and amazing.  In the hospital, before we realised they were losing too much weight, it was a joy. They slept on either side of me at night, we cuddled. I fed them and they fell asleep on my breasts, smiles milky and dribbling.  I loved breastfeeding my babies with a fierceness I could not have predicted.

Perhaps I made the decision to stop feeding at the breast too early; we had only been home a few days. Perhaps I was lazy in not pumping a zillion times a day, but I felt so much happier and connected to the babies and TMD when I spent time with them instead of that pump.

I teeter and totter, knowing that at this point the decision is made anyway.

IMG_0709

I’m sorry, babies. I feel like this is something best for me, but best for you? I only want to do everything out of love, to give you everything I can. It seems I reached my body and mind’s limit in this one area, but I hope it can help me expand what I can offer you in other ways. I love you both.

Forever.

In case you needed to know.

August 30, 2009

I just unclipped the right side of my bra so I could pump, and there was a tiny dead fly thing on the nipple pad. Either our hygiene standards really are hitting a new low, or my body has started producing insects.

I hear they are a source of protein.

Little butterball turkeys.

August 29, 2009

Babies weighed yesterday, and both are now over their birthweights. Getting heavy, yo. But as TMD says, after holding Baby Girl, Baby Boy feels like a toddler. He is now 7 lb 11, she is 6 lb 10 and a bit. Both are in 9th centile for heads and weight, which apparently means they are perfectly in proportion. And both 9th? Twins, yo.

Did you see that? A double ‘yo’.

TMD did every single baby thing last night so I could sleep (she is worried about me and wants me to heal). This had the curious double effect of giving me a good night’s rest, while also making me feel a bit distanced. And now I sit on the couch pumping (and the left side of the pump has stopped working. A very expensive thing to happen.) while everyone else is in the bedroom. I am going to hobble back there and hang out, me thinks.

Thank you for the comments on yesterday’s entry. I don’t know if I am feeling better, worse, or the same. I do know I am feeling more and more pushed aside, through nobody’s fault. At least they are still getting some breastmilk. That makes me feel better. (I’ll write about feeding soon, I promise. It is a work-in-the-making.)