Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The F-word

I don't know when I turned into a breastfeeding militant. When I was pregnant, and people asked if I planned to breastfeed, I generally said "I'm going to try," and said that with twins, it's often necessary to supplement with formula. I had no problem with this notion.

But now that I've managed to feed these girls exclusively on mama's milk for four months, the idea of introducing formula - even just once a day, which is all we're going to do for now -- feels akin to putting Coca Cola in their bottles. The overacheiver in me (who is a large one) bristles at the thought that I can't keep on doing this impressive thing I've been doing. I love that I've been able to only give them breastmilk. I have been a human cow, a font of nutrition, a burbling, overflowing spring of lifeblood -- in short, a goddess. Yes, that's right; I am a fucking goddess.

Elsa, however, is a piglet. And Clio is fast becoming one, too. This presents a problem. They are now regularly drinking 5 or 6 oz. of breastmilk when we bottle feed them. They're no longer satisfied with 4 oz., which is what I pump, per breast, during an average pumping session. And lately I seem to be pumping less than that more often. It's a simple matter of mathematics: I can't keep up.

There are ways to increase milk supply -- herbs and relaxation techniques and voodoo and prescription drugs. Some people recommend looking at pictures of the babies while pumping (which I've tried) or smelling a piece of clothing they've slept in (which I haven't). But in the end, there's just no getting around the fact that a rushed pump while sequestered in a shower room in the middle of a busy, sometimes stressful workday is just not going to yield the same amount of milk that a nice, relaxed nursing session at home on the couch will.

And so, last night while I pumped, A. gave the babies the first formula they've had since the hospital, when we had to give them the stuff to get their weights up. Formula, for those of you not familiar with it, is nasty stuff. It's brownish and rank-smelling, and results in chunky spit-up and ugly brown poop. It's overpriced as hell because the formula companies spend millions of dollars each year trying to convince people that it's just as good as breastmilk.

On the other hand, it digests more slowly than breast milk. Which means small tummies stay full longer. Last night, Elsa slept from 11:30 to 5:30 without so much as a peep. That's six hours, folks. SIX HOURS. Clio, meanwhile, did an admirable four and a half. (And I'd already gone to bed an hour before her last feeding) In other words, thanks in part to that nasty-ass formula, last night I got the most consecutive sleep I've had in four months.

Still, I'd keep them 100% on breastmilk if I could. What can I say; my ancestors were Calvinists and Lutherans. We suffer for the sake of righteousness. We suffer!!

Formula. Good grief.


Blogger Klynn said...

Woman, you've done amazing if you've gone this far on exclusive breastmilk with twins. I struggled, I mean struggled, to pump for my preemie singleton (who never learned how to properly feed from the breast, and got about 80-90% of his breastmilk from bottles) for 11 1/2 months. I know exactly what you mean about suffering, and determination. Not to mention the fact that he wouldn't take formula. Anyway, you rock, for all the work you're doing for those babies, you milk-factory, you. :-)

Oh, and just one little peice of assvice. One thing that helped me with my milk production, was eating a bowl of (instant) oatmeal for breakfast every morning. I really did notice an increase of probably about 1/2 oz. per pumping session. I know that doesn't go far with twins, but unless you hate oatmeal, it might be worth a try.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Jane said...

Thanks, Klynn!

I've heard that about oatmeal, and I happen to love the stuff. I'll give it a try.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Motel Manager said...

I agree that you have already been quite heroic. In our breastfeeding class, whenever the video showed a woman BFing twins, you could hear everyone else in the room shift uncomfortably because it looked so daunting. You have done so much for your little gals already by BFing this long (and continuing to do so, even if you do use the F word on occasion).

11:07 AM  
Blogger TLB said...

My sister breastfed her baby girl for several months, but from the beginning she discovered that a bottle of formula for the 12 a.m. feeding knocked the baby out for the rest of the night--which meant EVERYONE got more sleep and woke up rested and happy. Formula isn't rat poison. Don't worry about the overachiever in you--when the girls start spouting sonnets at two years, you'll have plenty of better things to brag about.

Have you seen this sketch on B's blog?

11:38 AM  
Blogger Churlita said...

You have done a great job. I can't imagine breastfeeding twins.

Don't worry, once they get old enough to have a peer group, they'll be exposed to all kinds of neat things, like American cheese and white bread.

1:28 PM  
Anonymous RCH said...

You have been doing an amazing, incredible thing! You are, indeed, a goddess. I started supplementing with formula around the 4 month growth spurt, too. I just couldn't keep up with the pump unless I pumped 5 times a day (I was already pumping four times a day due to such a long commute in addition to my full work day). As one of your other readers said, formula isn't rat poison, and it doesn't hurt. It's expensive and produces smelly brown poop, but it is a nutritious supplement to breastmilk, which they will still be getting in large amounts (you are a goddess - did I already say that?).

Just wait until they're 2 1/2 and won't eat anything but macaroni and cheese.

9:29 PM  
Blogger Marie-Baguette said...

Hi. I am not writing to you about breastfeeding (I am only 5 months pregnant but very impressed by your Goddess qualities). I have a question re: pregnancy. The baby moves ALL the time, especially when 1. I need to focus on my work 2. when I am trying to sleep and 3. my Hubby wants to cuddle. I feel exhausted by the constant tugging at my belly and was wondering if I ever going to be able to sleep again before the baby is born. Any advice? Thanks!

10:11 AM  
Blogger Jane said...

Marie -- I don't know what to tell you, except that it's great that your baby is so active! I loved feeling my girls move, and just sort of gave in to the distraction. As for getting a good night's sleep....well, the last month or two of my pregnancy it just wasn't happening. Nature's way of preparing you for what's to come, I guess.

Good luck!

9:28 AM  
Blogger BabelBabe said...

ditto on th eoatmeal, in any form actually. i ate oatmeal cookies : )

and i used carnation good start formula - it was less icky and looked and smelled and tasted more like real (breast) milk. just, if , you know, you want to check it out or whatever.

10:46 AM  

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