Friday, March 27, 2015

Weight Watchers

Every mother and mother-to-be knows the pressure put on women to breastfeed.  These days it seems that people just assume new mothers are going to breastfeed their babies.  In my case it happened to be true that I was going to try to exclusively breastfeed both babies.  Insert all of the mutual benefits for mother and child here, in addition to the obvious financial ones too, and you'll know why I wanted to try.   I went into this parenting thing thinking that I'd be totally OK with it if I just wasn't able to, but in the end, the guilt has gotten to me.  Thank you society.  Thank you...

Here's how we got to where we are today, which is me no longer breastfeeding either baby, and only pumping milk when I can during the day to feed it to J:
As soon as I was able, my babies were brought to me for feeding.  J was dropped into my arms and the nurse asked if I knew what I was doing.  
"Um...in theory, yes.  Practically?  No."
So she helped, and it magically seemed to work.  And then B came over and the same thing happened.  And all was right with the world.  I was going to be super breastfeeding Mom of twins!  Without much effort!  I ruled.
But over the next few hours, things became more challenging.  Every shift change brought a new nurse who told me to do something different and the lactation consultant had different opinions than them.  The babies didn't seem to latch on all of the time and after feedings they seemed hungry.  I was assured that they didn't need to eat much in the first few days, and to just relax.  A breast pump was brought in and I was instructed to pump after every feeding.  So I started breastfeeding one baby for as long as they would drink and then I'd switch to the other baby.  Then I'd pump for as long as I could stand it.  And by the time I was done, it was time to start over.  It was quite honestly, hell.  Especially during the early morning feedings, and especially because my babies were getting hungrier.  My milk hadn't yet fully come in so even though they didn't need a lot, they did need more than I could give.  This is when the guilt first began.  Not being able to give my children what they needed really made me feel horrible.  Still, I was told not to worry, that we'd still be OK.  The next lactation consultant recommended we begin supplementing with formula just until my milk came in fully, to ensure the babies got enough to eat.
And I believe this was the beginning of the downfall.  I think that if I had more help in the hospital (there was a major baby boom the weekend we were in the hospital, and the lactation consultants and nurses were overbooked.) I could have maybe gotten over the hump and I may have been able to breast feed at least one baby exclusively.  That said, we can't go back and change the past, and the day we were released from the hospital began to change everything anyway.
As you know, we were rushing to get out of the hospital so we could beat the blizzard.  We were rushing around, signing paperwork, packing bags, getting releases and making arrangements for the hotel.  We were also dressing our babies for the first time in clothes that were WAY too big (our babies needed preemie clothes for the first three weeks.  Surprise!) and dealing with massive amounts of spit up coming from B.  Our little guy seemed to all of a sudden go from eating champ (he started out being a better eater than his older, bigger brother) to being a vomit rocket.  After every feeding it seemed that he threw up his entire bottle, and considering he had already lost weight (normal) and that he started out small (5# 4oz), I was worried.  Before we left the hospital I asked the nurse about it and she assured me that it was perfectly normal and that I should just hold him upright for a little longer after feeding.
...and so for two days, that's what we did.  But in my heart, I knew something was wrong.  At his checkup a couple of days later, he'd lost even more weight.  He wasn't looking well either.  He was pale and was starting to look sick.  Still, the doctor asked us to increase his intake (counter intuitive, no?) and to bring him back in a couple of days for another weight check.
Increased intake equals increased output.  Everything we put into our little guy seemed to immediately come back up.  He only seemed to be able to handle 10-15 milliliters without getting sick.  By his next weight check, he'd lost 15% of his body weight and was dangerously underweight.  The doctor on call thankfully was not as optimistic as our pediatrician, and she sent us immediately to the ER in the Boston Children's Hospital.  

Our sweet B in his hospital gown in the ER

3 comments:

Jeanette said...

Awww! Poor little guy! Hope he's doing better now.

Holly Norberg said...

Don't let society get to you- I have a happy healthy fully formula fed 2 year old. You have to do what works best for you and the babies! Hope they are both doing well!!! :)

Rob Hamel said...

Love the line "in theory, yes. Practically, no." As much as I'd love to live in a land of unicorns . . . lol