The Reasons Why

When I found out the twins were going to be born six weeks early, I immediately lost it. I had been in and out of the hospital twice in the previous three days with what turned out to be a serious kidney issue, and it was following bloodwork to confirm the presence of a life-threatening liver problem that another doctor in my OB's practice broke the news to me.

Six weeks early was early in my mind. As in, high likelihood of breathing problems early. Long stay in the NICU early. Increased risk of developmental delays early. I desperately wanted them to stay inside for another two weeks. 36 weeks seemed like a much safer time to deliver.

Obviously, that didn't happen. As I later found out, I could have died and so could have the babies from the liver problem I developed if they weren't taken that day. It was a much greater emergency than the nurses and doctors in and out of my room on the day of their birth ever let on to me, and probably with good reason. Had I known that at the time, I would have probably had a breakdown.

From the moment I learned my babies would be born at 34 weeks, I felt my body had failed them. When I saw them covered with tubes and hooked up to monitors in the NICU hours later, the guilty feelings only intensified. I felt I had caused their suffering because my body wasn't strong enough to do its job and keep them safe. And then I got sick and spent the first five days of their life throwing up and writhing in pain in my hospital bed. There were days I spent less than two minutes with them in the NICU. I was too weak to hold Luci for 48 hours following her birth. I wasn't bonding with them, they weren't in my hospital room with me, and I felt utterly useless. I couldn't do anything for them. I couldn't even feed them because I was too sick to pump. When I was able to sit up long enough to do so, I was getting only a few ounces at a time. They received formula in the NICU because there just wasn't another option. Soon, though, I was pumping enough to supply them with breastmilk for almost every feeding. A few days after that, we took them home and I began exclusively breastfeeding them.

I had always planned on doing this, just as I had with Isabella. Of course, every single person I told this to thought I was crazy. Women just don't exclusively nurse twins, you know. It's insane! But it had never even crossed my mind not to. I nursed Isabella exclusively until she was 13 months old. She never had formula. How could I not do for Luci and Nicholas what I had done for Isabella? It didn't seem fair. It still doesn't.

But my primary motivation for sticking with breastfeeding is because I feel I owe it to the twins. Logically, I know it's nonsensical, but I feel as if my body failed them, causing their early delivery. They were premature because of the condition I developed. And yes, I know the liver problem is a pregnancy condition that was actually caused by the little darlings, but in my mind that's irrelevant.

I want to stick with nursing them so I can provide them with every positive antibody and disease-fighting protein I can. They're already susceptible to a whole host of infections and developmental and physical delays because they were early. By nursing them, I feel like I can act as a one-woman army of defense for them. No, it's not a guarantee that they'll continue to thrive, but I'll know that I've done everything I can to ensure that they will.

How can I weigh my need for sleep over their ability to grow and thrive? In my mind I know one or two nighttime formula-feedings isn't going to harm them, if this is even what they need to settle down in the evenings (and I'm not entirely convinced it is). In my heart, though, I feel as if I would be letting them down once again.

And I just can't bring myself to do it right now.

Thank you for all your advice and support. It means more to me than you know.

14 Responses to “The Reasons Why”

  1. # Blogger Simply-Mel

    I completely, 100% understand your feelings.

    Strength to you.

    (btw, am not convinced formula will fill them any more than breast ... just that you would be able to get some solid sleep!)  

  2. # Blogger Mom24

    I completely understand your feelings too, and I support whatever decision you make. I exclusively breastfed J&J too, until about 18 months. I really do get that.

    Just, and please know I say this with love, don't make this about you. It's about whatever's best for them, all of them. If one bottle or two of formula helps make them full and sleep better, you didn't fail them. If one or two bottles a day of formula helps you sleep better, so you're more equipped to be a momma, you didn't fail them.

    I don't know if formula would even make a difference. Just know, seriously, in your heart, you have not and could not fail those babies.  

  3. # Blogger My Wombinations

    This is a beautiful post and I really do understand where you are coming from.

    I said what I said re: formula because I think it would help you get chunks of sleep and the babies would still benefit from your breastmilk.

    There is also something to be said for relieving some of the stress and pressure you have put on yourself. It is not just for your sleep, it is also for your sanity and stress level, both of which, in my opinion are far more important (and valuable to the twins) than breastilk.

    All that said, you are an amazing mother. All kids should be this lucky.  

  4. # Anonymous Ness @ Drovers Run

    Okay, I get it. I'm one of those non-judgemental, 'no-boobs' people :)

    I just really feel for you, and how tired you are right now. Because I know how tired I was. In fact I was so tired back then, that I can't even remember how tired I was back then.

    A close friend of my hubby's has just had twins. Well, his wife just had twins. We'll, 'just' as in they're now about 3.5 months old. He said to my husband the other day, "Oh man, what I wouldn't give to sleep in till 10am with a BIG hangover!" I couldn't agree more!  

  5. # Blogger Sugar and Ice

    I understand! Keep it up!! You're doing great!  

  6. # Blogger kenju

    I understand, and I agree with you. Keep at it,Mama, you're doing them a world of good!  

  7. # Blogger Pregnantly Plump

    I'm so sorry that you feel all of that guilt. It is definitely not your fault. I elected to have an epidural when in labor with Little Elvis, about 3 hours later they lost his heart beat and I had to be rushed in for emergency C-section. The cord was wrapped around his neck, and it was not my fault (the doctor told my husband this, not me, and he assumed she told me, I didn't hear that until Little E was about 4 months old.) Anyway, I blamed myself for this for the first four months of his life. After being longer removed from it, I don't feel the guilt as strongly. I still remember the fear, but the time helped. I hope that as the time passes you will feel better about your situation, too.  

  8. # Blogger Stacey

    I have no clue how I got to your blog.. but I read this, and the last post, and almost cried. You are doing SUCH A GREAT job with your babies... good for you!!!! Do whatever feels right for you and your family, all of our advice (mine included) doesn't really mean anything :-)

    Have you ever thought about contacting your local La Leche League? Check out their website, find your local group and call. They may have some ideas and SHOULD support your decision to breastfeed exclusively. Who knows? There may be another mom in the local LLL group who has exclusively breastfed her twins that could help you personally!

    Good luck!

  9. # Anonymous Anonymous

    I agree with you 100%.

    You are a one-woman army for those kids and you can and will keep doing what you're doing b/c you know you are doing what is best for the babies.

    Formula will not help them sleep any more than they are currently.

    There is no magic sleeping potion in formula. I'm not sure who has placed the formula equals sleep myth into mother's minds, but it is not true.

    The skint-to-skin contact, bonding, and nurturing the children receive from nursing is what will calm them and nourish them when it is time to sleep. They are young, and twins or not, early or not, some babies just don't sleep through the night for a long time. I know that is not what you want to hear, but it is just the way it is sometimes. I would also like to meet the people who think that babies should be sleeping through the night. Having a newborn that sleeps through the night is not some mark of achievement for a new mother. Nor is it the norm. They are waking because they need you and because that contact they have with you during nursing is what they crave. You are doing a GREAT job - don't let anyone question you or make you feel like you are crazy for your choice. They are your children and that's that.  

  10. # Blogger Veronica

    I know that you don't believe it, but I think most of us can easily say that you haven't failed them.

    If you want to continue nursing, go ahead. I don't think anyone will judge and everyone will support you.

    But you didn't fail, okay? Don't be so hard on yourself. You gave them life -- that's an incredible gift, and you need to give yourself credit for THAT part of this whole equation.  

  11. # Blogger Damselfly

    I think everything that you went through with the twins' birth is actually downright heroic. And the fact you are nursing twins is more proof of your heroism. Even though I nursed Fly for more than two years, I'm not sure I could nurse twins exclusively. You are doing great!  

  12. # Anonymous Lisanne

    Although I haven't had twins, I *totally* and completely can relate to what you're saying! Wonderful post! Good luck to you ... I'm sorry about the lack of sleep (which TOTALLY sucks), but hopefully things will get better very soon. You're a great mom. Keep up the awesome work!  

  13. # Anonymous Anonymous

    HI Kris,
    I know I said I read and don't post but I am going to post here. You are an amazing mother. I know Isabella, she is a precocious and charming little person, partly because you and the hubs genetically made her that way and partly because of your commitment and enthusiasm and natural flair as a mom. I didn't and still don't have that natural flair. I work hard at mommying because I am not naturally good at it. You just are, AND you work hard. WOW that is just breathtaking.

    Nursing twins is hard, I did it for 7 months more or less exclusively, but Tom fed one at night, every night and until I had a critical mass of frozen stored he had to use formula. It meant that we BOTH got to bond with our sweet children and that we BOTH got chunks of sleep and that Tom got a moderately happy wife, and that my children got a mom who was 'present' for them and who could appreciate them. Being awake and happy is *just* as important as having BM fed to you.

    I will support you either way but know that either way you are being a good, strike that, a GREAT mother.

    And Pfft to that Anonymous commenter, sorry, but it isn't about sleeping through the night, it is about YOU sleeping more that 10 minutes at a time. You are NOT being selfish, people actually go insane from lack of sleep (just read about Fatal Familial Insomnia if you doubt me) :P.

    I love you honey, I am on break this week and I have my own twins but I am happy to come spell you a bit or we can all go out. ((HUGS))(I am sure you know it but this is Kell)  

  14. # Anonymous MoDLin

    I know how you feel and I say “good for you” for giving breastfeeding your best shot. But, if it should not work 100% and you end up supplementing the twins a little, you have not failed. They still will be benefitting from what you can provide. You have done a wonderful job getting them to where they are today. Be proud of yourself!  

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