I always thought I would breastfeed my children. When I got pregnant with twins, I hesitated a little bit, but not much. I knew about the football hold, and I knew it could be done.
Then my little bits were born at 29 weeks. And all of a sudden the NICU was raising them and not me. Feeding wasn’t even an option, forget about breastfeeding. But I still had my plan. I started pumping milk every 3 hours one day post C-section. And I didn’t stop until after they were home 3 months later. I was encouraged by the nurses: “Oh yes, we will let you start breastfeeding as soon as they’re strong enough.” I was encouraged by my mom: “It’s so good for them, keep going!”
And then, when they came home it was obvious. They are NOT going to breastfeed. They are hooked on a bottle. Can I fight through it? Yes. Could I retrain them? Yes. Did I want to? No.
I was TIRED! And done letting others dictate how I was going to raise my children.
So I gave up trying to breastfeed. And I kept pumping milk. Sometimes every 3 hours, sometimes every 4 or 5. I was proud of the overflowing freezer filled with liquid gold. And then, one day in the middle of taking-care-of-newborn fatigue, my milk supply started drying up. And I started having some pain. And I knew that I had filled up my last bottle of milk.
It was totally okay, I thought. Someday I will have one baby and I will cuddle and breastfeed that one all day long.
But fast forward four years and I found myself pregnant again. Only not with one snuggly baby. Two again.
I admit that I mourned a little for what I knew was coming. “This time I’m prepared,” I thought. “I know what’s coming. I’ll be more proactive about breastfeeding in the NICU. I won’t let them get too attached to bottles. But maybe I’ll do some bottle feeding cause I know I’ll need a break.”
I was grateful the second time to make it to 36 weeks. But I still had a painful C-section, and my girls still spent 2 weeks in the NICU.
It was a much better experience. I did breastfeed some and Baby B seemed to like it. Then we came home and even though I had help from grandparents my schedule looked like this: breastfeed some, bottle feed the rest, pump some.
Every 3 hours.
That meant I had less than an hour to eat, spend time with my other children, and sleep. The sleep ended up getting pushed back more and more and the girls were feeding less and less.
This time I wanted more control. My decision was made by simple math. I made a pro/con list of how to feed the babies. The pro list for breastfeeding had only 1 item on it: Breastmilk is the best food for babies. That was it. The cons list went on and on. Bottle feeding had tons of pros and just a few cons. So there I had it. I pumped my last bottle of my own milk, and went looking for formula coupons.
Afterward I had a friend lecture me about not breastfeeding, and then at the end she said, “But they’ll be okay.”.
And I smiled. Because I knew she didn’t mean any offense. And I knew she was right. They WILL be okay. They ARE okay. Because no matter what our mother heart tells us about feeding our little ones–they somehow or other get fed. And instead of fridges filled with bottles and breast milk and formula, all of a sudden it is filled with whole milk and yogurt and Mickey Mouse shaped chicken nuggets.
I didn’t want to waste the time I had with them being little stressing over milk. And that was OK.