Monday, June 25, 2007

Faustian Bargains

Thanks, everyone, for the advice/encouragement/tips/tricks/words of wisdom about breastfeeding. I am still struggling with it, but trying to be more relaxed about it because apparently my stress level can affect my milk production. So these babies won’t be 100 percent breast-feed. It is what it is. There really is no possible way for me to pump more than I already do. And they both are getting more breast milk than formula. The best I can hope for is to close in tighter on the formula-to-BM ratio. Smaller, achievable goals, one day at a time.

In other minor distressing updates, both babies are suffering from a little gas and constipation. They are both up all night straining and pained. And nothing is coming out (but gas). It is so hard to see them in pain—even something as trite as gas pain. Turns out the cure for constipation (according to some parents/websites/doctors) is to stick a thermometer in the baby’s, well, don’t make me spell to out. I had to have Nicole do this because it seems so wrong. It did the trick though, at least for Avery.

I know the formula is probably causing the gas and that makes me so upset. This is why I wanted 100 percent breast-feed babies. We switched to a sensitive formula with low iron but that doesn’t seem to do anything yet. They only get formula from 10 pm until the 7/8 am morning feeding. And my diet is pretty much gassy-food free. If anyone has any other good ideas, please let me know.

My energy levels fluctuate from higher than the highest caffeine high to tired beyond belief, Not run-of-the-mill tired, but that type of tired you get in say chemistry class when suddenly your head feels like 100 pounds and your mouth drops open and your eyelids feel stapled shut. I am averaging about four hours of sleep a day, which is not nearly enough. But once these babies sleep more at night I am sure we will too.

I made all sorts of Faustian bargain to get and stay pregnant. I swore to myself that if it (IVF) worked I would be the best mother in the universe, with tons of patience and an I-Can-Do-It Attitude. I would never complain. I would remember how badly I wanted this to happen whenever things felt difficult. I would have clean, happy babies and a clean, happy house. Ha.

And yet here I am, struggling, and it is hard to remember my bargain. I was with the babies alone today for most of the day. This was my first time. I think they sense when the baby-to-adult ration goes from 1:1 to 2:1 and they both kick into high-needs mode. Both need to be fed/changed/comforted/cuddled immediately and practice their newborn scream if it doesn’t happen. After almost no sleep last night, it has been a struggle today to keep up with them. I finally got them both calmed and they are asleep. That gave me an hour to eat for the first time (at 2:00 pm!) and load up the dishwasher and pump four ounces of milk and write this.

It is distressing to listen to a baby cry and realize you can’t do anything about it, unless you want to listen to the other baby cry. Mealtime is a very minor version of Sophie’s Choice. Who do I feed first? Who seems hungrier and fussier? Who will not cry for longer? It’s a guessing game, and the babies let me know if I made the wrong choice.

We are at a crossroads of sorts. Nicole can’t function on so little sleep and still go off to work every day. And I can’t function on so little sleep and be able to take care of the babies during the day. Nicole and I think we are going to start doing night shifts. I will go to bed from 8:00 pm until midnight and she will stay up with them and do their feedings. Then I will take over at midnight. That way, at least I will get 4 hours of solid sleep, plus cat naps from midnight on. And Nicole can get a solid 5 hours before she has to get up and get ready to go to work. When do babies start sleeping longer through the night?

Pictured above, the little angles sleeping like logs during the day. If only they could sleep like this at night.


Motel Manager said...

We went through so much of this same stuff, including doing the exact shifts you mention. For us, it got better starting at about 3-4 weeks. We also had a baby nurse arrive then to whip us all into shape. Now, at six weeks, we can get a solid amount of sleep, though it is interrupted. The baby sleeps a good stretch, from about 8:30pm to 2 or even 3am. He then eats and goes back to sleep until 7, though he gets up early and fusses sometimes. The baby nurse got us onto a rough three-hour schedule during the day - he eats, has some awake time (which gets a little longer gradually), then goes to sleep for 1-2 hours.

According to the baby nurse, sleeping longer stretches depends partially on weight, so as your girls gain more weight, things should improve.

You are doing great! I am so impressed at how you're managing with twins. It will improve! In a few weeks, they'll be smiling, too, which will make everything so much better.

Motel Manager said...

Oh, and our little guy had gas like that even when he was all breastfed. It also has improved, even though he is now mostly on formula due to my low supply. I think it has to do with their digestive systems getting more mature. He doesn't freak out like he used to over gas.

Shannon said...

Our doctor suggested that my partner cut dairy from her diet for a week or two and see if our son's gas went away because he may have been sensitive to dairy. She went off dairy for quite a while and then tried having it again, and he was fine. He probably never had a problem with dairy but it was worth trying. I doubt both your girls would have a sensitivity to dairy, but it may be something to ask your doctor about.

We also got a prescription for lactulose when he was constipated, and one dose did the trick.

Shannon said...

Forgot to mention that we also used lactose-free formula when he would sometimes get formula at the same time my partner cut dairy from her diet while breastfeeding.

We were using Enfamil A+ and then later, after we figured out that he wasn't sensitive to dairy, we switched to Nestle Good Start formula and he hasn't been constipated since.

Jeannette said...

I had the same problem with my little peanut. (the gassiness) Poor little thing would cry and cry. The doctor told us to try lactose free formula and it did the trick. She's not lactose intolerant or anything, but I guess the regular formula was just too much for her little tummy.

Hope you guys are able to get some sleep soon. Your babies are precious!

Melinda said...

Honestly, it didn't start getting better for us until about 2 or 3 months after the baby was born. I know, it sounds like an eternity. BUT! When it finally did get better, it got LOTS better. This part is so hard. I think your night shift plan sounds great.

When my daughter was constipated early on, I would massage her belly and do little backwards mini-crunches with her legs (bend them at the knees, pushing the knees up toward her belly). This really seemed to help. Thefe's a book another blogger recommended to me - "Itsy Bitsy Yoga" by Helen Garabedian - that seemed to have some good massages/exercises for baby gas...
Good luck, and hang in there!

whatthef*ck said...

good lord woman. okay.... let's see... you need to eat!!! drink a whole gallon of chocolate milk. you've got to eat to keep cranking out the milk! good fats, bad fats, eat em all! i crave dairy but am too afraid to eat alot of it.

have you tired fenugreek to increase the milk supply? lanolin for the nipples? a tbra in the shower to keep the nipples from hurting when the water hits them? thats my new favorite idea. very dorienting though, i have to keep looking to make sure i'm not wearing pants or underwear.

screw your faustian bargains darlin. welcome to motherhood where you never feel good enough. puh-lease try to be kind to yourself. consider what youve been thru and are currently going thru. my god. twins. by yourself all day. up all night. can you guys get some help? relatives? nannies? anyone? i cant fathom dealing with what youve got going. be kind. would yu judge anybody else so harshly? i think not!!

good lord your kids are so beautiful! hey and if you are all alive at the end of the day, pat yourself on the back! you survived! i try to not think about the days months ahead. one step at at time otherwse its overwhelming.

off the soapbox. hang in there.

K J and the kids said...

Jennifer, YOU MY FRIEND ARE DOING SO GOOD !!!! Seriously...the fact that this post didn't have WAY more 4 letter words and mispellings. I am in awe of you. Sleeplessness is the hardest part. That is why Nicole has to help out at night. I know that you feel as if she needs sleep more because you can try to dose off with the girls during the day...the fact never happens. You are doing a FABULOUS job...and are a GREAT mom. They are growing, their needs are being met, and look at how ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL they are.
((((BIG HUGE HUG)))))

I breast fed, cut EVERY F'ING thing out of my diet and my little Syd was gassy as hell.
This is the deal. Their little tummys have to get used to food. Period. Their stomaches aren't used to processing real food and getting rid of it. It's just something that in time will work itself out. All you can do is try to comfort them. It's miserable, and it's hard, and their are lots of tears shed....but it all works itself out around 6-8 weeks. Sometimes a heating pad helps, Mylicon drops helped my boys. Sometimes rolling their legs up in to their stomaches help.
I would say NOT to switch formulas until you are CERTAIN that it is the cause. Switching formulas can make the problem worse sometimes.

Twins are SO HARD ! Only a twin mom knows. You will know when you have a will laugh and say...holy shit, this is EASY compared to two. :)
(see how I'm looking in to the future...and on to your next baby :) ha ha

You are a rockstar. Now go brush your teeth :) ha ha

ajs4ever said...

Hang in there sweetie! You are doing an amazing job and I admire all you do for your little ones!!


Anonymous said...

I'm never any good at giving advice. Allways makes me feel like an *ss. My son was only breastfed and after trying everything for his gas at my wits end I took him in to the emergency room when he was screaming and miserable so they could see that I wasn't exaggerating. After listening to him scream for about 15 minutes the doctor suddenly remembered that there were some prescription gas drops that I could try. They worked like magic. If they hadn't I think I would have ran away from home. Congratulations on your girls. I would never have been able to cope with 2 at once. I've barely made it with just one.

Tracerhawk said...

I second KJ - you are doing awesome. Twins are hard work but is sounds like you are doing great. We tried shifts and swapping feedings to find a system that worked for us at night. You'll find what works for you too. Mylicon drops saved us with all our kids (the singleton and the twins). Give it to them about 15-20 minutes before feeding. And if you can get some help, take it!! Let friends come hold the babies and go take a nap. Don't worry about housework - just focus on you eating enough and doing what it takes to get through the day. Oh, and don't switch formula until you know that is the problem, it can only make it worse. We found our little ones (the twins) did best on Nestle Good Start while our oldest did fine with Similac. Hang in there, you are doing great and the girls are adorable.

Truck Driver Wife said...

Keep plugging away one day at a time. When my kids wouldnt sleep at night and slept all day, I would purposly wake them up during the day to break their cycle.

Your babies are beautiful.

You will not be a failure if they are not b/f.

Dee said...

I feel like just saying ditto, ditto, ditto. Except yours it x2 and our is just 1. But it's hard! Damn hard. Lack of sleep is not a good thing! Hang in there. We're at 5 weeks + now and it's seriously getting better. Her routine is better. Milk production is continuing to increase. We're learning to survive on less sleep. You will be a FANTASTIC mom, I know it!!! And, your girls are GORGEOUS!!!!!!!

nailgirl said...

Jennifer try gentle ease formula by enfamil. It worked for us. Good luck and you are doing a great job.

Leggy said...

Ditto what everyone else said. My son had really bad colic and nothing I cut out of my diet made a difference.
Can you afford a post-partum doula? We are expecting twins in a couple weeks and everyone I know who has had twins tells me its an expense well worth investing in. They basically stay up all night taking care of the babies and only bring them to you to feed (if you are nursing).

Shelli said...

a little mylecon in the formula bottle does WONDERS for teh Gas situation.

Most babies outgrow the gas/refluz around 4 months or so - but the spit ups keep up for a while, until they figure out how to burp themselves! ;)

If you can afford it? I'd say hire a baby nurse for a month - just to give you some sanity.

We barely sirvived the first few months with Malka - and she's a solo! I cannot imagine having TWINS. ACK. Lots of love, yes, but DOUBLE the work.

kate said...

i second what everyone else said. Sounds like you are doing great. Faustian bargains notwithstanding...i think the fact that you DID empty the dishwasher is impressive!!

I like your idea of shifts at night. Dh & i did that last night and it worked really well. I can usually get 3-4 hrs straight sleeping with them on the couch -- holding them sleeping on the couch.
Usually = when Max is not gassy. We have a non-cushy couch that makes this pretty safe. My lactation consultant is also a doula & when she does night nurse for twins she puts both in a sling (maya wrap?) & sleeps in an easy chair.

Try other types of formula to find which works better for friend had lots if digestive problems with her 1st, until she found the right formula for him.

I made my blog by invite only so if you want an invite, email me (address in my profile). My twins are a week old now & i came to your site through threeminutepalaver, i think.

Shannon said...

Reading your post from today is like reading some of mine from April. I think all twin moms go through the exact thing you and Nicole are currently experiencing.

My husband and I slept in shifts until our twins hit 3 months. My twins were born 2 months early, so I don't know if that makes a difference. Anyway, once they hit 3 months, everything improved! No more gas issues, sleeping through the night (most nights), self-soothing and self-entertaining. It's like a whole new world!

I had a nanny come 3 mornings a week for the first 2 months the twins were home...just so I could get more sleep. She made all the difference in the world too.

As far as breastmilk production, I didn't have much luck with that. I tried some herbal pills that everyone swore by (Milk Plus), but I couldn't see an increase. Then I was put on a prescription that helped only slightly. For me, the issue was having babies in the NICU for 32 days. It certainly made breastfeeding and pumping more difficult.

Good luck and congratulations! :)