Monday, June 14, 2010

The F Word

Our boys are small. I know *logically* that they are twins and they were born a month early and they are breast fed, on demand, from the boob, not bottle expressed breast milk. And so I know that all of these things are going to lead to a smaller baby. I know that.

But it's hard to see all of these chubby 4 month olds and realize just how behind your baby is in the weight department. At their last check up they were in the 3-5% for weight. Ouch.

Now, since learning this I've also done some research and found out that our current scale is being revamped to show today's true standards.
Did you know the current evaluation scale is based on a study that was done in the 1970's on a very small sampling of middle-class, white, Midwestern, formula fed babies? Not a single breast fed baby in that study.
And yet, that is what our babies are measured against. Then there's that childhood obesity epidemic that has been steadily climbing in the past 3 decades.....
So my babies probably are higher if there was a breast fed baby scale to go by. But there's not.

I'm not a doctor and I trust my doctor when he says the boys are fine. Very small, but developmentally fine. But, no one is urging me to drop a feeding or anything like that, trust me.
And so, for 4.5 months now, I feed them. Every 3 hours, 24 hours a day. Sometimes 2.5 hours. It is exhausting. I am sleep deprived beyond belief. I am fragile. I am forgetful. I feel more and more overwhelmed and out of control. It is not good this constant state of fatigue. Not good is an understatement.
I want them to weigh more. I want people to stop asking me if they are newborns or 2 months old or remark on how small they are. I want to stop explaining that they are twins and yes, I know they are small and they will be OK.

Up until Argentina we had only supplemented with formula very few times. It was mostly an emergency backup for when we were out and they were both hungry at the same time. But on vacation...well, we used a lot more of it that we ever have before. We had to. There were too many times I simply could not pump. There were two 11 hour international plane rides. And there were 3 domestic plane rides. There were taxis caught in traffic and car rides through mountains and restaurants we would've been at all day if I'd fed them both and, and, and.
And they gained weight.
Not that they weren't gaining weight before. They were. Slowly. As a lot of breast fed babies do. But they really got a bit chubbier in those 3 weeks with some formula supplementation.

And so I made a hard decision. Once we got back home, I decided to keep giving them some formula. We do one dream feed around 10pm every night and it's a formula bottle. We also do one bottle right before they go to bed around 6:30pm and that has become an expressed breast milk bottle.
I'm hoping that (1) they get more calories this way. I know they are. (2) the formula helps stretch their sleep a bit more and I can sleep a bit more. I know this is working because last night--for the first time ever, the twins slept for 5 hours after the formula dream feed and I got 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
The only other time this has happened is when Chicken has given me a 'bottle night' as we call it.

I wrestle with my emotions over this. I never, never in a million years thought I would be so attached to the idea of exclusively breast feeding. Especially not with twins. I think it's almost become my badge of honor. Like, well, I couldn't have my own kids and my body fucked up my pregnancy and my boys came too early and I had to have a C-section and now this. Now, I couldn't even make it six months with breast feeding without giving in to formula. I can't trust my body is capable of feeding them. Even with taking the milk drugs.
Right now, the milk drugs are helping my supply and getting them more bottles which I could have never done before. And that is so nice.
But I have to be honest. I need two things desperately right now. Sleep, and my babies to gain more weight. If a little formula is going to accomplish both of these, then that's what I'm going to give them. I hate it. But that's how it is.
And that, my friends, is my story of my battle with the F word.

19 comments:

tireegal68 said...

You are a champion! You really are!
I am sure I will feel the same way about breast feeding - although I am having one baby - but please don't be mad with yourself. I think you have found a really good happy medium. Except it isn't a medium - it's still heroic in the scheme of things.
I'm a twin and I marvel at how my mom made it - now I know a little more of the reality - but not much yet - and she would tell the tale that I had to have the breast all the time because I could not get the hang of the bottle and my sister had the bottle as well - she had some milk supply issues. And I just think bravo to you and the other breast-feeding mommas and I think your babies are perfect. You are both wonderful mommies! Take care of yourself and I hope that you and the babies enjoy the night-time treat! You all deserve it!

Expectant Duck said...

hugs lady. It's hard. I so so so wish that my twins could just have breastmilk but when your body can't get pregnant and can't carry babies and all I can do is induce lactation, well I know that I can't just give them breast milk.
So they get formula too, but I feel better because it's the omega kind.
And the formula does make them gain weight (mine are now both over 8 pounds and were born 6 weeks ago at 5 pounds) I think that's a lot, but, ye know I don't know where they should be.

Anhyhow, don't beat yourself up - your doing great, we both are.

For the Long Haul said...

I was right there with you with my first son. He stopped gaining all weight at 9 months old and he had only been gaining up until that point because I gave in and gave him formula. But that personal fight is so hard. I just wanted to let you know everyone understands and formula is not the devil. My boy is still really small (not implying that yours will be too, I swear...) and I know how hard it is to hear, "Oh. How old is he?" I hear all the time, "Wow. He talks REALLY well!" I look at them and smile and say, "He's four." And people go, "OMG, really?!?!" Yes really. He's four and he's tiny and he's perfect so go suck it!

This probably didn't help you at all, did it? So sorry...just wanted you to know that there are people out there who have gone through (and continue to go through) the same thing and you are being an AMAZING mom for putting the needs of your babies in front of your own desires. You rule. Remember that.

For the Long Haul said...

I was right there with you with my first son. He stopped gaining all weight at 9 months old and he had only been gaining up until that point because I gave in and gave him formula. But that personal fight is so hard. I just wanted to let you know everyone understands and formula is not the devil. My boy is still really small (not implying that yours will be too, I swear...) and I know how hard it is to hear, "Oh. How old is he?" I hear all the time, "Wow. He talks REALLY well!" I look at them and smile and say, "He's four." And people go, "OMG, really?!?!" Yes really. He's four and he's tiny and he's perfect so go suck it!

This probably didn't help you at all, did it? So sorry...just wanted you to know that there are people out there who have gone through (and continue to go through) the same thing and you are being an AMAZING mom for putting the needs of your babies in front of your own desires. You rule. Remember that.

N said...

Please don't beat yourself up. The important thing is the boys being healthy, and YOU being healthy - physically, mentally, and emotionally. ♥ 4.5 months is an amazing freaking feat! I am so very very very in awe of you. And you are keeping on - many women can't keep up with one baby, to have been able to keep up with two is amazing, and to not QUITE be able to keep up with two at this point is nothing to be ashamed of.

You rock.

existere said...

You do what you gotta do.

I went mental when we switched to formula, but here is my secret (please, no one blast me!): I am happy we use formula.

Of course breastmilk is gold, I don't dispute that, but there ARE advantages to formula.

After six months, formula has iron in it - no worry about supplementing. We are all getting sleep (though it got fucked again at 6 months, ha!). Babies have gained weight...but both are surprisingly slender for ff babies.

Your kids are still getting mostly breastmilk, which is awesome. You are simply going to be doing the best of both worlds. How lucky your boys are to have a mom who looks after everyone's best interests - even if that is one dose of formula a day.

Also, it's a shame your kids percentges aren't based on their 'true' ages. You know, how old they would be if they'd gone full term. I bet they would be a lot more on target then.

There ARE breastfeeding weight charts on the internet as well...so you can always have a look at those.

Much love.

jessie said...

The guilt! It's so hard and so real. I totally understand. Just remember tht we all make the best choices for our familes and you are doing an amazin job. Glad you got some sleep!

Anonymous said...

Never commented before but wanted to reinforce that you're doing a fabulous, amazing job. Here is a link to the WHO growth charts for breastfed babies. http://www.who.int/childgrowth/standards/chts_boys_p.pdf

AdventuresInBabyMaking said...

I’m sorry you guys are having such trouble. FWIW, and I know that you never know how you’re going to feel until you’re in the situation, but FWIW, we have every intention of supplementing w/ formula. Did you catch that article in… I think it was the Atlantic… several months back? Yes, breast milk is great, but formula isn’t bad, and mommy has to get some sleep, too! And who knows, if you’re able to establish a better routine where you’re supplementing, maybe you’ll even be able to bf longer.

You’re doing an amazing job, woman!

Two Moms, Two Monkeys said...

Oh Puffer! I totally hear ya on the growth charts. It took forever for our boys just to make it ON the chart! I wouldn't worry about it at all. Our twins are one now, and though a tiny bit smaller, not by much and people don't hesitate at their stature anymore.
Breastfeeding twins exclusively is very very hard! Add the fact that you need drugs just to keep up with their demand, I don't think I could do it in that situation.

You have done an awesome job and 4.5 months is quite the feat! I too noticed the difference in chubbiness between our boys and other babies, but as long as they are healthy, you are doing a good job. Breastfed babies tend to be leaner anyway, even if they are full term singletons.

Congratulations on making it as far as you have, and know that by giving in to the formula you are making the best decision for yourself and your family, and no one should feel guilty about that. Enjoy your new found sleep!

Melissa said...

What an incredibly hard decision. But always remember you did what is best for your boys and for you. I hate how everything about babies seems to be a comparison. Weight, height, sleeping through the night how old they were when they reached every milestone. I think all of it is just bs and we should all just enjoy our babies. But unfortunately that's way easier said then done and I struggle with doing it myself everyday.

I give you a standing ovation for what you have done! I only have one and barely make it through. Try and cut yourself a break and remember what an awesome mama you are!!

Jen said...

Oh puff! You are super woman-- feeding TWO babies is something I can't imagine because I know how hard it is feeding one. When you look at size of babies, genetics are also in play, not just calorie intake. We hae the opposite problem! Our kid will probably always be huge, and he was a month early too! But, my dad is 6'2 and the donor is 6'3, so he is bound to be a big man. When people ask how old chunk is, they have always thought moths ahead of his age... He is in his last week of his infant snap and go carseat (at 6 mo tomorrow!) because he is too big. Grass is always greener and as long as our babies are healthy that is what matters.

vee said...

You've got to do what you need to do to allow your family to function. I know that it's hard, emotionally though, so try not to be too rough on yourself.

cindyhoo2 said...

I echo the others. You ARE doing what's best for your babies. You are still breastfeeding for all the good stuff that gives babies. And you are adding in formula for sleep and an additional growth-shot! It seems to me that your approach is the very picture of balance.


Now with a little added sleep, you'll even start forgiving yourself for misplacing your supermom cape! :)

glamcookie said...

You have done/ are doing so amazingly well. I can't imagine keeping up with the BFing needs of two babies. You are a total rock star for making it this far only BFing! I hate that you're feeling badly because you should be so SO proud. {{{}}}

Anonymous said...

I know you probably know this but in the sleep deprivation state we sometimes forget the basic things.
It is not just the quantity, more supply thing. Do you eat enough? Do you eat other things then salads? You need some high calorie food in you. Especially now, that you are making more milk, you need to eat more calories.
Good luck.
Alex

Two Moms, Two Monkeys said...

Just wanted to post a link to an article I just stumbled on, it made me think of you, and I hope it helps you realize how important it is to make decision for your "whole" family, not just the babies.

http://howdoyoudoit.wordpress.com/2009/01/13/from-the-archives-when-breastfeeding-multiples-fails/

poppycat said...

do it puffer and don't look back. i know it is difficult for you emotionaly but you have been a poster child for tenacity and you should be so proud of yourself. I'm proud of you! you know, at my last preparing for multiples class they had a panel of twin and triplet parents there to speak to us and of the nine, not one had been able to go without supplementing? Not one, and each of the said they felt bad about it at first but now feel like it was a really good decision.

Do this because you need it and because they need it and know that all of you will be happier and healthier.

Hugs

Gabby said...

I've been so bad at blogging, but I love reading yours. Why? Because I could have written it. Every single post, sometimes, seriously.

I almost titled a post once, "Coke in the baby bottles." because i didn't want ot be induced, and gave in to that, i didn't want an epidural, and I gave in to that.

I didn't want my babies to have pacifiers, and my baby was in the NICU getting his frenulum clipped, and I gave in to that. Then, yep, you got it. I wanted to exclusively breast feed... and I gave in to EBM bottles.. and then formula. Yep, i did it too. And life got a lot better. Hubby able to help feed, grandparents helping too. (You'd think I'd have time to blog with all this help I had.)

Seriously, I know how you feel in some aspects. my babies are 9 weeks and 8.5 and 9 pounds. Yep, newborn size. Not even ON the charts.

ANd I am comforted knowing your info about the antiquity(?) of the charts.

Yes, our babies will grow. And yes, formula will help. They are still getting all the antibodies since they are getting so much Breastmilk. They are still getting attached to both of you becayse they have spent so much time at the boob. But you are probably a happier mama because of the breaks you get every know and then.

I know how precious a 4 or 5 hour stretch of sleep is. You cannot physically get that EVER with on-demand exclusive breast feeding of TWINS. and you NEED that. So, way to go mama for getting what you need.