Can we all agree to two things before I go any further?
- To not take any statement I make as a judgement on your choices. (What you do is none of my business, and I really want this piece to be informative, not persuasive or judgmental.)
- To never (ever) assault your brain by visualizing any of what I’m about to share.
*Hi* I’m Lindsay and I survived a fifteen month breastfeeding relationship with my twins. I’m not superwoman, but it definitely wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve done. And while that last statement could be said for just about anything a mom has to undertake, the truth is that breastfeeding anyone is a labor of love, requires an obscene amount of dedication and sacrifice, and is something to be proud of. It’s so hard. All of it:
The early days of pain and engorgement and trying to get the latch just right.The frustration of your body feeling foreign while also trying to get it to do a new thing.The fear that if it doesn’t work it’ll be your fault (even though logically we all know it’s not).
It’s absolutely, unequivocally both a mental and physical battle.
So, why undertake it?
Before my twins arrived, I knew I wanted (to try) to make breastfeeding work despite the boob-deflation risk and chance of failure. My body had crapped out on me in a lot of ways, and when months of negative pregnancy tests turned into years of struggling to get pregnant, I vowed to myself I’d get some control back when it came to feeding. I researched, forced my husband to attend (amazing) classes, and saved the IBCLC’s info to my phone so I could call her the second I had issues.
And issues we had.
To start, my twins spent thirty-six days in the NICU, where one of the graduation requirements is to take all feeds from the bottle. So, to streamline that process I exclusively pumped. Every two hours – around the clock – while they were in the hospital and then for another month while we figured out latches and tandem nursing, new eating schedules and supply issues.
Because each baby is different, I had to navigate two with different needs and challenges, while making a minimum of 60 ounces of milk a day to keep up with their intake needs. I drank a Goat’s rue tincture, used donor milk for their last feed a day, and took Moringa pills until we realized I needed to up my caloric intake for my supply to remain consistently high enough for two (3,000 – 3,500 calories a day).
Then we figured out they both had tongue ties and needed them to be released.
The first two months of our journey were brutal and, honestly, the only thing that kept me fighting through it was my stubborn nature.
Was I opposed to formula? Not if it was needed for any reason, but I really wanted to make this work. While it’s true I’m goal oriented, I’m also keenly aware my mental health needs to be addressed, too. So, if it was causing major stress I would’ve quit.
But the truth is, I took an amazing, informative and empowering class that taught me a lot about lactation and how most of the problems women have are overcome-able with a little work. It focused not on the fact that some women need or choose to quit breastfeeding for physical, emotional, or mental health reasons, but instead of the areas in which information is lacking, giving me a more thorough and informed look at how to troubleshoot issues some people think they can’t overcome.
I wish this type of class was available to everyone (and free!), not because I think it would make everyone want to breastfeed, but because it will allow everyone to make even more informed choices.
Yes, I tandem fed them the entire time. My Twin MyBrestFriend pillow was where they took most of their naps, where they ate, and – eventually – their first climbing toy. Some months they wanted to eat every hour and a half, very few months I got them up to every three. In the end it took me two and a half months to wean them as I dropped one feeding every two weeks, then one a week, and then the final feeding – on Valentine’s day r – I both celebrated and sobbed: I was so proud of myself for doing it but so ready to have my body back.
And so I quit and they did just fine.
My story isn’t much different than most breastfeeding stories, except I had two, which makes me think triplet moms are the real MVPs.
If you’re thinking about breastfeeding, the best tool you can have going into your relationship with your baby is the ability to troubleshoot under extreme pressure, and since you’re a mom you already have it. But also know this, because this has become the part that’s the hardest for me to swallow:
Your children will suck the life right out of your chest and make your girls look like Homey the Clown’s sock.
You’ve got this, momma.