Slave to the pump

Let me tell you a little something about breast pumping… it sucks. (That’s a little pumping pun for you)

Imagine having a full-time job, requiring you to work 40 hours a week. It doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, take that 40 hour work week, and add 30 hours. It sounds hard, but still manageable. And even profitable.

But take that manageable 70 hour work week, and add a few other variables: Little to no sleep, recuperation from a major surgery, ala c-section, unpredictable hormones, and the ever-present fear that your newborn twins are going to starve if you don’t continue to live like this. But make sure don’t get stressed out by all of this, because 15 different doctors just finished telling you that stress and lack of sleep will drastically affect your supply.

And that was my life for my first two weeks at home after leaving the hospital.

It began on that fateful day, our second day in the hospital, when the lactation consultant informed us that our daughter had tongue tie. For the past nine months, I had every intention of exclusively breastfeeding both of our babies. I had perfect visions of feeding them both at the same time, or as some called it, “tandem feeding” (“tandem torture” is more accurate). I was so determined in fact, that I invested in a special pillow made just for the job- My Brest Friend, but the double version, of course.

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Thanks for being discreet, Amazon.

I must admit. I was far too ambitious. I can be very determined, and at times, downright stubborn, which my husband will attest to all too quickly. But I quickly came to the conclusion that there was no way I could pump for one baby, while breastfeeding the other, and still maintain a shred of my sanity. It was then that I decided exclusive pumping was the route I would have to take.

After one week of pumping, my fears of starving babies reappeared. I picked up the phone and spoke to, and cried with, the lactation consultant from the hospital I realized it wasn’t possible for my little b’s to produce enough milk to feed two babies. After agreeing with me that I wasn’t exactly well-endowed, we came up with a plan. For the next two weeks, I would pump every two hours, yes, through the night too, in order to build up a solid supply of breast milk.

Great. I have a plan. I can do this. And I did.

After two weeks, I called my favorite lactation consultant, proud to tell her that I followed her orders exactly. And I was fully expecting her to say, “Great job, Mom! Now you can cut back to pumping four times a day.”

Ha! No such luck. You see, this was my new life. If I wanted to make the milk, I was going to have to really work for it. My pumping schedule was whittled down from twelve pumps each day, to ten pumps a day.

I became pretty resourceful when it came to my pumping.  Sitting for 30 minutes to an hour pumping every 3 hours quickly became the biggest waste of time ever, not to mention the two newborns that still needed caring for.  I got a hands free pumping bra and an extension cord for my pump, and began multitasking like no ones business.  I could now vacuum, fold laundry, cook dinner, feed and play with both babies and dogs, and pretty much any other task that could be done within the 15 foot confines of my trusty extension cord.

I never leave the house without my pump. I have a car charger for my pump, and a car ride without pumping is a waste of a car ride. If my pump was another human being, she would be my best friend and my worst enemy.

But, I’m doing it. I’m doing it well. I have a freezer full of milk, and neither of my babies have come close to starving yet.  I’m hoping to make it to one year, but only time will tell.

By the way: It’s 1:00am and I’m currently pumping. If anyone knows someone looking for a double my Brest friend, let me know!

Overwhelmed with Happiness and Hormones

Megg’s transformation to “mom” was the funniest thing I have ever witnessed.

You see, she’s not the mushy type.  Well, she’s not the mushy type with anyone other than our dogs, who she loves more than life itself.

Each day when she comes home, she runs upstairs to put on her play clothes, just like a third grade boy does when he gets home from school.  But she doesn’t run outside to play with her friends until the streetlights come on.  Instead, she immediately runs down the steps and smothers her pups with hugs and kisses.  She shares this affection with no one else.  No.  One.  Else.

But those babies changed all of that.

In the hospital, we probably said to each other at least fifty times, “Can you believe they’re really ours?”   Nope, I couldn’t believe it either.  We were totally in love with these two.  Our hearts doubled in size to accommodate the love we now felt for those two swaddled buggars.

Over the next few weeks, whether from hormones or pure happiness, she became a blubbering mess.  She had become a mom to the fullest.

So many times, she would explain to me just how happy she was and we would talk about how we never knew we could be so happy.  Really cheesy stuff.  Everyone told us that we would feel this way, but we usually laughed at these people and called them softies.

But we were the softies now.  And we were really soft.

Mom’s tears of joy would come several times a day and she would utter phrases that I could have never predicted, especially in the context of newborn twins.

Phrases like:

We’re so lucky.

I love them so much.

We’re so lucky.

I’m so glad there’s two (which was the most surprising).

And every other mushy phrase that no one would ever expect her to say.

Honestly, we had feared the idea of twins for a while, but now we considered ourselves way luckier than those poor souls who only had one newborn. We would literally spend hours gazing at those tiny faces, then smiling at each other before returning our eyes to the babies.  Total softies.

Her heart’s space is probably 90% occupied with an unconditional love for her dogs and babies.

And I’m thrilled that the remaining space is filled with her love for me and soft pretzels.

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Heading Home with Newborn Twins

Our homecoming day had finally arrived.

We somehow managed to accumulate even more baby stuff while we were in the hospital, so I started making trips to the car with all of our belongings.

One potential problem that could have thwarted things was the infamous car seat challenge.  Sounds like an 80’s board game, but it’s not.

You see, Griffin was still extremely small.  Because he was so small, there was a chance that our car seat, which was designed for normal-sized babies, wouldn’t get the job done safely.  So they had to do a trial run.

They put little Griffin in his car seat, which now included special modifications, consisting of strategically placed, rolled-up receiving blankets.  The blankets ensured a more secure fit in the seat.  After he was buckled in, they monitored his vital signs to guarantee that he would be ok in the seat.  My little boy passed with flying colors, and he was officially safe to ride in his gigantic car seat.

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Here we go!

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A member of the hospital staff came with the wheelchair and Megg hopped in.  She carried one baby in its carrier and her mother carried the other.  I bent over to pick up the diaper bag, and Megg’s gigantic, expensive camera fell from my shoulder onto the floor.

Awesome.

I was afraid to look up because I didn’t want to see the look she was probably giving me.  I picked it up, re-secured the strap on my shoulder, and tried again.

This time, Megg’s tumbler of water fell from the side pouch, and crashed onto the floor.

Awesome.

Because I had managed to drop everything I attempted to carry, I was convinced that every adult in the room was doubting my ability to raise these kids.  I was evening beginning to doubt it myself.

Somehow we made it to the first floor with nothing else falling from hands.  We posed for a few photos and headed home on the nicest, coolest day of the summer.  It was the perfect day to welcome these newborn twins to their new home!

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We arrived at home with the same number of living babies that we had when we left the hospital.  A small victory.

Our four-legged babies were so happy to see Mom and she was liberal with her kisses and dog treats.  When I came in the house with the twins, the pups looked at the baby carriers and probably assumed that someone with babies was visiting us, and that there was no chance those babies could actually be ours.

Before I knew it, there were two podsters on the coffee table holding our sleeping babies.  I suggested to my mother-in-law that we should put the babies in the office, where we had set up a “downstairs nursery”.

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My suggestion was shot down.

In my rational mind, the babies would sleep in their designated room, just like most people sleep in their room.  But there is no room for rational thinking with twins, I suppose.  I was informed that they would occupy the coffee table for the next few weeks because it was the hub of life and we could tend to them better if they were in the same room as us.

But the coffee table and living room are not for babies.  They are for us, and drinks, and food.

Not anymore.