This is a summary for the babies’ 21st week – they were 20 weeks old.
My whole week was consumed by anxiety and obsession over how much the babies were eating. Early in the week I was feeling okay – I had some time to digest the whole growth chart issue and decided that regardless of what it shows, my babies are doing just fine. They seem satisfied and sleep well. All signs point to thriving. I was able to add in an extra nursing session before their first nap, but beyond that I’d just decided not to worry.
Then I went to an appointment with a lactation consultant on Thursday morning and found out they had only gained 1 and 1.5oz in the prior 9 days and I completely spiraled out of control into a legit crazy person. I’m not kidding. Thursday afternoon I was so stressed out about how little they’d gained that my milk stopped letting down. Now, if there’s one way to make a mom go certifiably insane, it’s to put two hungry babies in her arms and then take away her ability to feed them. I had plenty of milk in my boobs but the let down reflex just seemed to have temporarily shut off.
It. Was. Terrible.
Seriously, worst day of having twins so far. I was so worked up I started dry heaving and had to call Eddie (who was at a work event until late that night) and ask him to take the next day off work.
“Um, boss, I’m gunna have to take tomorrow off… my wife is about to lose her mind…”
I was eventually able to get my milk to let down by nursing in the bathroom with the bath tub on. For some reason the sound of the water calmed them enough to keep latched and sucking long enough to release the milk. I nursed them in the bathroom all afternoon and the next morning.
Even once the let down issue was solved, my anxiety about the weight gain continued and I pretty much didn’t sleep from Thursday night to Saturday night. I just laid there with my eyes open worrying and obsessing over why they aren’t gaining fast enough, why I can’t get them to eat more, and how I could have had literally NO IDEA there was a problem until their well check appointment. My stress was compounded by the fact that I decided to try pumping after every feed (I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I HATE PUMPING) and all I had to show for it was about a half an ounce of milk and bruised nipples.
By Sunday I was a wreck. Isn’t it amazing that I could have gone from this twin thing is so easy 2 weeks ago to utter mental chaos? And really, why do I even care? I’m not one of those judgmental “breast is best!” people who have a moral objection to formula. I prefer breastfeeding because it’s more convenient, it’s cheaper, it’s keeping me from getting pregnant again and it has its sweet moments, but I’m not even remotely convinced that breastfeeding has any real long term impact on a baby. So why do I even care if it doesn’t work out?
I think it must be rooted in feelings of failure. I know this is illogical, but I worry that the fact that I had no clue there was a problem speaks to a lack of “mother’s intuition” and the fact that I seem unable to fix the problem now that I know it exists is a failure of sorts. I am embarrassed to take them back to the doctor this week after trying SO HARD and see that they have gained far less weight than he told me they needed to.
Eddie, oh logical one, says “What are you afraid of? What’s going to happen if they only gain 2oz in two weeks? What, you think the doctor’s going to take your kids away from you?”
No. Point taken.
Anyway, Sunday afternoon I talked to a friend, sat in the backyard with Eddie and a big glass of wine, and decided I HAVE TO LET THIS GO. For my sanity, this anxiety HAS TO STOP.
I posted the “situation” to a google group of Babywise moms I’m a part of to see what they would say. Several women responded, all saying the exact same thing: if they are happy, sleeping well, meeting milestones, and seem satisfied after eating, they are getting enough. Do not worry unless they LOSE weight. Most did not think there was a need to supplement with bottles. The overwhelming advice (especially from people who had personal experiences with low weight gain babies) was to relax and follow the babies’ cues.
So that’s what I’ve decided to do. I decided to nurse them before and after every nap during the day, pump once before I go to bed (at least for another week or so), and continue taking More Milk Plus.
Beyond that, I decided to just STOP. STOP worrying. STOP obsessing.
And instead, be thankful! Be thankful for these two beautiful babies that God has given me. Be thankful that they’re healthy, happy, and that I get to spend every single day loving on them.
(We’ll see how long I can maintain this optimism. Say a prayer for me Thursday morning when I take them in for their weight check. Maybe get a padded cell prepared just in case.)
Related to the weight gain issue, I have gotten conflicting advice on starting solids. Some people are so vehemently against offering solid food before 6 months. Frankly, I’m always suspicious of people who are vehemently against anything when it comes to parenting. Some other, arguably more reasonable people have suggested that maybe I try offering some high calorie foods like avocado.
It made me think about Abel’s weight as a baby. I remember also feeling with him like at times I had to FORCE him to drink milk. I started solids with him at 4 months and by the time I took him to his 4mo well check (which was closer to 5 months) he was eating quite a bit. I wonder if I hadn’t been offering solids if he would have also “fallen off the growth curve.”
Anyway, something to consider.
The babies’ sleep has remained great through all of this. I am continuing to wake them from most naps.
There were two nights that I tried going in and doing a dream feed around 11pm, but it resulted in extra night wakings (which I also fed them at, considering our situation). I stopped doing the dream feed and they started sleeping through again.
This was our general schedule. A lot of the days started closer to 6:30am than our goal of 7am… they usually wake up and start babbling around 6:30 and because I was worried about them eating enough I didn’t make them wait until 7. Instead I went in and got them up at 6:30 to start the day. When that happened, I moved the first nap a little earlier and let them sleep a little longer to get us back on track for the day.
6:30am Wake, Nurse (1)
8:15am Nurse (2), then down for Nap 1
10:30am Wake, nurse (3)
12:20pm Nurse (4), then down for Nap 2 at 12:30
3:30pm Wake, nurse (5)
5:00pm Nurse (6), then down for Nap 3
5:45pm Wake, nurse (7)
7:00pm Nurse (8), then straight to bed
The Cute Things Twins Do:
The babies like to be touching almost all the time. Typically I nurse them both in football hold so their faces are point toward each other. Nine times out of ten they reach their little arms across the pillow and hold hands while they’re feeding.
Mostly they spend their awake time on a blanket in the middle of my living room. They usually stare at me or at each other. Multiple times I have caught them sucking on the other baby’s thumb.
Last week I walked by and spotted them like this:
I can already tell these two are going to be the best of pals.