Friday, March 27, 2009

I'm not playing anymore

I was at the Children's Museum with the twins last week when another twin mom tried to engage me in the nursing game.
I don't like the nursing game.
It's not fun and these moms only goad me into playing it because they know they will win.
It starts bluntly like this:
"Your boys are so big! Did you nurse them?"
Does breast milk include huge doses of growth hormone? Their dad is 6-foot-5. Their brother and sister are way off the charts for height. So why shouldn't the twins be tall too? Then again, my husband and both older kids were nursed as babies.
I stupidly make the next move.
I don't know why.
Boredom maybe.
I am often aching for adult conversation.
"Yes. I did."
"Oh really? For how long?"
"Four months."
I don't explain. And that complicates the game. She's stuck--unless she plays the formula-is-so-expensive.-Thank-goodness-I-never-had-to-use-it-because-I-nursed-my-twins-exclusively-for,-like,-two-years card.
I am fortunate though.
One of her twins takes off and she's off like a shot with him, the other twin in tow.
The boys and I wander elsewhere and I don't see her again.
But I'm tired of the game and I don't want to play anymore.
So I've decided to show my cards once and for all.
I nursed my older kids. My son gave up on me at 8 months. He had better things to do and really resented the time it took to nurse. He preferred a bottle even though I made him drink it on my lap.
My daughter nursed for 15 months and showed no signs of quitting. Then she fell on the tile near the fireplace and sliced her tongue with her teeth. She couldn't nurse for several days and, finally, made her transition to cups.
I felt terrible for her, but I also felt that she'd had a darned good run.
When the twins were born, I was determined to nurse them too. I shouldn't deny them, I said to myself, simply because they happened to be born at the same time. It wouldn't be fair. And, of course, I thought it would be a breeze.
I was a breastfeeding veteran.
But Matthew and Jonathan both had trouble latching when they were born, identical troubles. I spent ten frustrating days nursing, bottle feeding and then pumping with barely an hour's break before I had to start all over again.
When they finally did latch (on the same day at about the same time), they still had their issues. Matthew would grab on and go to town for ten minutes straight. Then he'd quit. That was it. No more no matter how hungry he seemed to be.
Jonathan would take a full ten minutes to get latched. Then he would nurse endlessly and scream if I tried to take him off. He was a slow nurser. For some reason, it took a great deal of effort for him.
It was stressful.
And school added to the stress.
My daughter attended half days and my son attended full days. I had no help during the day or when my husband travelled and we live nowhere near family. Poor Matthew and Jonathan were often rushed through nursings so I could get the older kids to school, then rush to the bus stop after school, get my daughter to dance, get my son ready for Cub Scouts.
I tried pumping, but I had even less time for that.
And the stress took its toll. I was lucky to get two or four ounces when I pumped and I sometimes pumped for an hour straight.
The only time I could nurse the boys comfortably was during those few hours in the afternoon when both older kids were in school, and I lived for those moments. It was peaceful. It was pleasant.
Most of the time.
Okay, hardly ever, but sometimes and sometimes was good enough.
Most often, both boys would cry with hunger at the same time and I wasn't good at tandem nursing. I was too big when I nursed (a quadruple D I'd say, if there is such a thing) and it was terribly uncomfortable for all three of us. Someone had to cry while the other ate. So I started using formula, a few ounces here and a few ounces there, more and more.
After three months, I was such a mess that I knew I had to make a decision.
Nothing beats breast milk, but I had the health of the family as a whole to considered.
So, one month later, the day school ended, I nursed Matthew and Jonathan for the last time.
I ought to reflect on the sadness of that moment, but I can't.
While I'll admit I felt some guilt, the overwhelming emotion was relief.
Immense and intense relief.
Game over.


Anonymous said...

This brings back a lot of memories of how hard it was to nurse newborn twins. I almost gave up so many times...I think the only reason I kept going is because I didn't have other kids and had a long maternity leave. It really is so much easier to nurse just one--that has been a relief.

Lexi said...

oh gosh, I completely know how you feel. People often assume I never even tried, but I tried, and would never have fed Logan, becuase of latching problems, but probably would have Laycee, had she not ended up in the hospital. I usually end that game before it starts and I play the she ended in the hospital- he was losing weight- never got a good supply card. I still feel guilty, but who can blame me right? And just so you know, 4 months is longer than most singleton moms make it!! Can you tell this is a touchy subject with me lol

Twinsmom said...

I think you are right Kristi, that if I didn't have older kids, it might have worked out. You did great and I am so proud of you (of anyone who can nurse twins that long!), but you never played "the game." You never made any one of us feel badly about the fact that we either couldn't nurse or couldn't nurse long. You must have an awesome milk supply for the new little guy though!
Lexi, I don't know how you could have done nursed with all the stress you were under--the issues with the twins, two older kids, a foreign country. You are an awesome mom and you shouldn't feel at all guilty.

LizzyB said...

"I ought to reflect on the sadness of that moment, but I can't.
While I'll admit I felt some guilt, the overwhelming emotion was relief.
Immense and intense relief."

This sums it up perfectly for me. I lasted 2 months exclusively breastfeeding then another 2 months pumping and supplementing. I went into it believing 100% that I could do it but I have no shame in admitting that I failed. My well being and my boys changed dramatically once we switched to formula. They are now 9 months and since I made the decision to quit breastfeeding I haven't looked back.