Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Tale Of Two Mommies

I didn’t expect to have tons of free time, but I was hopeful to be able to keep up with this blog little more than I am.

Nicole just left to pick up a few things that we need. There is a sleeping baby (Avery) laying next to me and another with hiccups (Madeline, who hiccupped her way through gestation in my uterus) by my feet. I still look at them in wonder that they are actually here.

Recovery from the C section has been tough. I always heard two things in regards to this procedure: It wasn’t so bad or it was the worst experience of my life. I am in the latter category, I’m afraid. I spent the first few days walking (barely) hunched over, in nothing but a tank top and those lovely mesh hospital underwear. My posture and gait is a bit reminiscent of Smeigel from Lord of the Rings. Each day I get better, but recovery is very slow. I resent how it interferes with these precious beginning weeks and how it makes me so helpless and dependent.

It’s awful how this recovery interferes with bonding with the babies. When I was in the hospital, Nicole was picking some things up from home and I was alone with the babies for the first time. I had one on my lap and the other in a cart next to the bed. Avery (in the cart) started to fuss and pushed her mini nose against the plastic. It took me 15 minutes to get out of bed and pick her up and get back into bed. Very humbling.

It takes some getting used to, this helpless thing. A baby cries in the night and I can’t physically get out of bed to get her. Which brings me to Nicole. Of course I knew she would be a great mom, but I am overwhelmed at just how quickly she snapped into maternal mode. A whole new side of her was born the minutes the babies arrived. It is amazing to watch. She is a natural, gracefully handling all of the ups and downs of new parenthood while I clumsily still try to figure out how to get a burp out of them or try to get myself off of the couch without using any stomach muscles.

A baby cries at 2:00 a.m. and Nicole is at their crib next to our bed before the baby can get a second intake of breath. She is practically single-handedly taking care of both babies, our home, our lives and me. She has changed almost every diaper and prepared every bottle for feeding and even helps me latch on the babies for BF. She has discerned their cries already, and know when they are hungry or gassy or have to get a new diaper. And she is doing all of this while operating on almost no sleep. And this is a person who normally needs at least eight hours a night.

The babies in turn LOVE her. Madeline especially turns her head in that cute can’t-control-my-neck way when she hears Nicole’s voice. And Avery calms down immediately in her arms. Me, I leave bruises on Nicole from where I grip her to get out of bed or up from a sitting position.

The biggest priority on our agenda is getting the breastfeeding flowing. I started in the hospital and all went well for a day or so. Then the pain came: When the babies latched on, the pain was so excruciating that one night I literally screamed and burst into tears. I have never been so affected by pain. I didn’t quite expect that.

My nipple.s are red a cracked and bleeding. The babies may or may not be latching on properly: We were shown in the hospital how to do it and we are doing the same thing now but still, that pain. Madeline started losing too much weight so we had to supplement with formula. Of course, this lead to copious tears about how I feel like I am starving my children. Avery also gets supplements but she takes to BF much more. We rented a hospital grade pump yesterday and have a lactation consultant coming here tomorrow. One hour I pump and get an ounce from each side. Next time I pump I get less than a coating on the bottom. Bizarrely, I have much more success with a hand pump and not the thousand-dollar electric one. Very disconcerting. In my spare moments (ha) I have been trying to read books about all this, but I can’t find anything that helps. It is so frustrating.

I still need to get out the whole birth story. Already details are getting fuzzy. But that will have to wait a little while longer.

Pictured above are some moments from the past few days….Nicole with the enchanted Madeline and Nicole with Avery.


infertilepediatrician said...

You shouldn't be so hard on yourself. You just had major surgery to get about 14 lbs of babies out of you - that's amazing. It's going to take time before you're able to leap out of bed and that's ok.

The other thing that people forget to mention is that breastfeeding is hard. While everyone thinks it's "natural", it still takes time for you to learn how to do it and for each one of the girls to learn how to properly suck (without killing your nipples). In the begining there might be some pain but I think the level of your pain is more than expected. The girls (or one of them) may not be latching on right (ie - maybe latching on at an angle or just latching on to the tip of your nipple rather than having the entire areola in her mouth). I'm glad a lactation consultant is coming over to help you. In the mean time, don't be too hard on yourself for giving them some formula. If it helps you know that the babies are full and gives you a little bit of time to relax, that will thus help you and allow you to recover and bond with babies. I think it's worse to have a mom who insists on only BM but who is stressed out to the max about it versus one who gives some formula and is more relaxed and working on improving the BF (and I'm a huge BF proponent). Every bit of breastmilk they get is good for them (even it's only a little bit).

Keep up the great work. I'm happy that Nicole has become super mom. I know that's how Carey will be as she's such a good caretaker and super protective of me (I can only imagine how protective she'll be of our little one).

K J and the kids said...

Way to go Nicole. I'm smiling from ear to ear for your whole cute little family.

REALLY cute babies !

Breastfeeding. UGH!
I don't think that unless you have been well trained and still have pain that you understand.
I was trained. The lactation consultant would latch one on and say "how does that feel" I was in pain and would tell her....she would PULL him off and try again...causing me much more discomfort. She would say...he's latched right, how does that feel. I would finally lie and say it was better....knowing that it was just a time thing.
It is a time thing.
I used to punch J in the arm when Syd would latch on...after a few days I would tell her to punch diminish the pain on my breasts.
With the boys I would just complain and cry.
They tell you that it will take time, so we pump and supplement...then they tell you that every ounce you supplement your breasts won't make up for that ounce. It's a battle. It's hard. (suggestion....pumps....I learned while my little Spencer was in the hospital that the stronger and faster the suction does not increase milk just hurts your nipples....adjust it so that it is comfortable with you...soon enough you will be able to pump at harder and faster level) and 1 oz is FANTASTIC this soon. You are doing GREAT !
I suggest that if you are HEART set on breastfeeding to cut down on the formula and work on pumping ALL FREAKING day long to get that milk supply going.
It seems like formula is a means to the end. Do it while they are tiny and don't have that big appetite.
Whatever you it for youself and take comfort knowing that all of your efforts are helping those beautiful girls...did I mention that they were beautiful. :)

I breastfed for 6 months. It was hell. I pumped like crazy and took EVERY tea, herb, pill out there. I am SO hard headed that I just pushed along. I think we all suffered for it.

I hope that your incision heals and that you are able to FINALLY be out of pain. Bless your heart....first twins, then your hand, and now a c-section.

Can't wait to hear your birth story.
Thanks for the post.

Eva said...

You are doing wonderfully, I think. Many moms of multiples have time to recovery while babies are still in the hospital, and obviously, you're lucky to have avoided NICU time, but it also means you have two babies at home very soon! You are both doing great.

The best thing anyone told me when I was struggling with BFing was that it gets easier when their mouths are bigger. I felt like every book and LC said it shouldn't hurt if they're latching properly, and they must not be getting milk, but at least with my son, it hurt A LOT, and when they did pre/post weights, he was getting tons of milk. But my friend was right, when their mouths were bigger and they could take in more, the pain decreased. It was when they were around 10 pounds, I think.

For almost 3 months (though mine were 5 1/2 weeks early) I felt like I did nothing but nurse and pump. It was ridiculously exhausting. The only thing that kept me going was stubbornness. But now at 9 months yesterday I have twins who have had no formula since the hospital, and I have had so many special moments breastfeeding I would do it all over if I had to.

If you have specific questions about BFing twins feel free to e-mail me at blue(at)

Hang in there, it only gets better.

whatthef*ck said...

OH MY GOD YOU POOR THING. first of all i cant BELIEVE that your doctors let you leave after two night. three nghts is early, four is standard as far as my experience goes. jesus christ. i couldnt friggin move barely after two days. my 1st two sections were easier, less pain. this one SUCKED! i wouldnt give upthe catheter after a day and a half because i couldnt move w/o lots of pain and i wouldnt give up the IV for quick meds either. i finally stopped staggering around after one week. until then two percosets/every six hours and motrin AROUND the clock to deal with the pain. i HOPE you rae taking god meds at least but it sure doesnt sound like it.

THANK GOD you have an LC coming today. we saw one in the hospital and she helped so much. even on my 3rd baby i wasnt latching her well and my nipples were hurting after 24 hours. i gotta say a god latch makes a huge difference. it really shouldnt hurt except maybe at first a bit. of course its going to gurt you bec of your poor nipples but once they heal it shouldnt be hurting during the feed ( ifuckign hate that word) if the latch is good.

how the hell do yo have time to pump with two babies? i'd have guessed that they would be doing more than enough nursing to get the milk going. i HATE the pump and used to stress out COMPLETELY over the 1 ounce i produced. thing is that the babies are much better at getting milk out of us than a machine.

i hope, hope, hope that your lc is good and helps you out significantly. if she doesnt help FIND ANOTHER ONE. they are life-savers but like therapists they are wildly different and you might need to try more than one to find a match for you. the 2 i saw in the hospital were so different.

man i feel so bad for you right now. you are dealing with so so so much pain, not to mention the hand thing (pain, stress, fear, jesus christ), hormones, bf stress, exhaustion. dont feel bad if you have a major major meltdown.

i dont get why you need to pump when you have not one but two babies? to build up the mlk supply? umm, dont the babies nursing do that? maybe i need to re-read.

i'll be thinking about you and hoping that mary-fucking-poppins-lactation-consultant comes through your door and puts your mind at ease. i'd pay whatever i needed to to get that sortd out. good luck. hang in there.

whatthef*ck said...

just re-read. gotta say OF COURSE NICOLE IS TAKING CARE OF ALL OF YOU, HOW THE FUCK COULD YOU DO IT WHEN YOU HAD A MAJOR SURGERY WHAT 4, 5 DAYS AGO? WITH TWINS? rocket man changed every single diaper for the first 5 days and did all of the burping. i didnt attmept to get out of bed to retrieve our baby. he barely left the hospital. honey take it easy on yourself!!

i know i was blase about the csection recovery bec my others wreent so bad but this one sucked big time. my meds beng screwed up made it all worse. oh i feel for you.

btw, how the fuck does nicole know the idfference between their cries? i'm on my third kid and cant get that one figured out. impressive!
i've read that with c-sections the parent who didnt give birth stays bonded closer to the babies for like ever because they were so involved from the get-go bec they had to be while birt mom recovered. i imagine its hard to watch nicole be such a pro when you can barely get up. you'll make up for lost time NO DOUBT and she can teach you what she's learned. i want to know the secret of the different cries.

hang in there. let nicole pamper you. you could use a whole team of people pampering you. how is famil and friend supprt? good i hope. when you can stand the idea, maybe a post natal massage. hot bath. are you taking enough meds? now is not the time to be a hero in that dept. you need to be comfortable for chrissake. wow i am going off.

take care

Melinda said...

You are doing such amazing work. I remember how helpless and in pain and scared I felt during my own recovery from having my daughter 8 months ago, and that was with ONE baby! You and Nicole are rock stars right now in my eyes. Breastfeeding is so hard for lots of moms -- nobody tells you that. Just make sure that you keep taking good care of yourself, Jennifer, and remember that you've got a big cheering section of stranger-friends out here in Anonymous Internet Land. You're doing such a great job.

Dee said...

First, I can't believe you're home already. After watching what Shelly went through I've been worried about you. It's 2 1/2 weeks later and Shelly still has pain from time to time. And now the hormone's are hitting. She's more than a little emotional lately. Lean on Nicole at this time. She's got to be the strong one to get you all through this. Then, when you're back on your feet, make it up to her. Remember, you just had MAJOR surgery.

And breast feeding seems to be quite frustrating. I can't say for sure since I'm not actually the one doing it. Riley's still not taking to breast well. She's lazy and likes the bottle. But we try, try, try every day.

Your girls are beautiful little miracles and I can't wait to see more pictures.

Hang in there!

lagiulia said...

Oh, I'm so sorry that the c-sec is giving you so much trouble! I was lucky, I guess. But not lucky that my twins were in the NICU, which brings me to this point: I know you feel like you can't bond with your girls right now the way you'd like, but you just being there with them night and day, in the same room, is the beginning of bonding. And as time goes on, and you feel more comfortable with mothering and more able to get around, the feeling of bonding will increase. But also know that this is the beginning of being a parent to twins. It is not the same as parenting a singleton. The bonding process is different. You are trying to be everything to two babies, and that will always be a big fat and often frustrating challenge. It is also awesome, though, to have two babies to get to know!

Give yourself time. You and they are going through an utterly life-changing experience. You are doing great with what you got, and how WONDERFUL that Nicole is there to play a leading role right now as you heal. Isn't it great that the parent who didn't carry the babies can develop this amazing bond with them, even closer than your own perhaps, so quickly? I was amazed, watching my husband. And relieved to know he was an equal (more than equal!) parent from the get-go. It just made me feel happy and relieved that the boys had another person on this earth that could care for them and love them so completely.

Breastfeeding: I think the lactation consultant ASAP is the best move for getting to a place of comfort. And may I suggest that if your consultant doesn't help you a whole lot, bring a different one in ASAP. I saw so many different LCs in the NICU, and really some helped me a lot, some very little. Don't feel bad about supplementing... the girls will be fine. I do echo another commenter's suggestion to pump on a low setting after each feed and when the babies are getting formula. But if it's just too painful, the LC should be able to make suggestions, even by phone. Don't panic about low yield yet. It's still early. But I do think frequent pumping *after each feeding, so the girls get first dibs,* will increase supply. Even if you don't see a lot of milk, the fact that you're demanding it from your body should give your body the message to make more. There are also teas you can try for nursing... they are sold in the supermarket.

Most of all, know that you are *already* doing your very very best, and that is the most important part of being a parent. That you can do as much as you're doing under the circumstances is amazing, and the strength you are finding to do it comes from your love for the girls. That is what being a good parent is about. But remember also that being a good parent is about giving yourself a break and resting and letting the *able-bodied* parent do everything for now so that you can get your physical and emotional strength back for your daughters and yourself. Lots of love to you!

Anonymous said...

I also had a hard time breastfeeding- but be persistent! If you can do it for 6 weeks, I so believe things will get better for you! Ask your LC about getting a Medela SNS (supplemental nursing system). It's a small tube (about the size of an angel hair pasta) that you tape to your areola and it is connected to a small container that holds formula or expressed breast milk. And when you nurse, you put the tube in the baby's mouth (they don't even notice) and they are able to be supplemented with formula/expressed breast milk at the same time they are nursing and stimulating your nipple (thus helping your supply come it) It also especially good in a situation where baby needs to gain weight because the formula/expressed breast milk is able to be measured unlike nursing, so you can make 100% sure they are actually getting certain amount. Good luck:)

kim said...

I too had trouble breastfeeding my twins after my c-section. And like KJ, we all suffered because I tried like hell to make sure for 6 months that my twins got breastmilk. I was anemic from severe blood loss in recovery, and every herb in the world didn't do crap for me.

KNOW that whatever you do you are doing the best for your girls -- BF or formula or a mix of both. Mine got both for 6 months and then went to full on formula. And I finally realized that I was a better mom once I stopped stressing either way.

Hang in there, and do what's right for you and the girls. And you will be happier to be at peace with whatever you decide.

YOU ARE AN AMAZING MOM...repeat that over and over again until you believe it. We all already know it!

They are beautiful by the way... :)

Motel Manager said...

You are not starving your babies - you're doing great! I am already doing a breast/formula combo due to supply issues, and I only have one baby.

Becca said...

De-lurking here to say congratulations, and to echo what so many people have already said!

I'm a labor and delivery nurse, and one of the worst things (I think) about how early we send people home is the fact that you go home with just a day or two of breastfeeding support (which is usually minimal, sadly) and it's before your milk even comes in! We expect you to go home, remembering everything we told you, and knowing who to call if things aren't working out.

When my daughter was born 6 months ago, she was latching great (even though it HURT) until my milk came in. Then it was pure hell. I had horrible engorgement, cracked and bleeding nipples- you name it, I probably had it. The visiting nurse was pretty useless, and I finally got myself to see a lactation consultant, and just two hours with her seriously saved my life. Six months later, and nursing's still going strong.

I'm shocked that your hospital didn't provide you with an SNS with those twins. That makes me so mad! It would be saving you time and letting you sleep a little, even.

Don't pay attention to the amount you pump, someday when you have time to read again, you will read about it and see that the amount you pump in no way reflects your supply. :)

Anyway, you'll all be fine. Drill the LC with tons of questions, and take notes! And, buy "The Nursing Mother's Companion" if you haven't already- it's really helpful. Thank goodness you have Nicole to help you out!

Targetgirl said...

I just want to echo what an amazing job both you and Nicole are doing already! Going from 2 to 4 must be totally overwhelming.

What you are pumping right now is fabulous! I remember barely covering the bottom of the bottles. Heck, I remember none getting down there at all! I felt humilated and like a total failure. However, now I know that is totally NORMAL. Breastfeeding is hard and it takes a while to get used to it. I only had one, but we had issues galore because he was early. Use the LC often! Mine saved our relationship several times in those first months.

Big hugs and congratulations. You are doing awesome!!!!

calliope said...

LOVE the photos of Nicole with the girls. Beautiful!
I hope the LC went well and that you continue to heal.

FosterMommy said...

A friend who had a horrible 1st c-section went on to have a (relatively) great one because she took arnica afterwards. Can't hurt, give it a try:

And I second the SNS supplementer idea. You can also take Fenugreek to increase your supply. but, really, don't worry about it. if you can get a better latch and keep it up, the pain really will go away and you'll be in the groove.

Your girls are so beautiful. Relax, recouperate, and let your partner take care of everything.

kate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kate said...

Congratulations! What beautiful babies you have!! Awwwwww!

Re breastfeeding -- it is SO very hard, it hurts so much at first and pumping is so discouraging...but it is so worth it...i hope the lactation consultant will help. I had a similar problem with my first baby and it was just a question of positioning, the LC fixed us right up. Aigh, breastfeeding twins, well i hope i will know all about it in a week or so...

By the way that was my comment above, but i noticed a big 'ol typo so i rewrote it...