(Don’t) Cry Over Spilled Milk…

Bottles - color-coded for different ounces and times of day for different baby.

Bottles – color-coded for different ounces and times of day for different baby.

Breast feeding is FREE. It’s free if you don’t consider mom’s time spent doing it valuable. I spend 30 minutes four to five times in a 24 hour period pumping for milk to nourish my twin boys. That’s well over 2.5 hours just pumping. And that doesn’t include washing bottles and the bottle systems  – two of each, eight times a day – (in fragrance-free, 100% natural, organic, baby-safe dish detergent with tiny, hard-to-keep-track-of, annoying nipple and bottle brushes). And then there is the preparation of the formula for supplementing what I am short that day. It also doesn’t include “getting ready” to breast feed and all of the paraphernalia that goes along with it.
Bottle Mess

Buy the plastic “drying grass” for bottles and bottle systems – way better than the towel!

I find it fascinating that I can produce the *PERFECT* food for my tiny newborn twin boys. Perfect because it is the easiest food for their “new” digestive systems to digest. It’s known to reduce a baby’s risk of developing allergiesasthmaeczema, ear infections, obesitydiabetes, heart disease, sudden infant death and diminished intelligence, as well as protecting mothers from breast cancer. It actually helps boost intelligence in children later in life. So why wouldn’t I at least give it my best shot to provide at least SOME of this goodness to my twin boys? I breast fed my daughter  for 11 months until she weaned herself. I am not one of those moms that beats myself up over exclusively breastfeeding. I simply DO WHAT I CAN DO. And I am living with that. I can’t produce like a cow. I have to supplement with some amount of formula daily. And I work my butt off to get all that I can get! Some women are blessed with an endless supply of milk and can pump and pump and freeze and store their milk. Some women could feed a litter of babies with such amazing ability to produce milk. And that’s just it – all women are different when it comes to breast feeding. It doesn’t matter the size of your boobs, either. It is much like having an innate talent to play the piano or the drums – some women are talented at producing milk. I don’t believe breast feeding is the “end all, be all” that some doctors and the media, lactation groups and mommy blogs want you to believe it is. “Breast is best” for babies whose mamas believe it to be best. Many women choose not to breast feed for a multitude of reasons and every reason is a perfect reason because it is UP TO EACH MOM INDIVIDUALLY and is NO ONE ELSE’S BUSINESS. It is the mom’s ultimate decision to breast feed or not and her decision SHOULD BE 100% RESPECTED. It also shouldn’t be something anyone has to defend. It’s your decision and that’s the final word. It doesn’t mean you love your baby any more or less that you do or don’t breast feed.
twins bottles 1.2015

Carson is white and Maxton is blue. Color coded helped me and whoever was assisting me with nighttime feedings. They weren’t always the same weight so they would sometimes drink different amounts – 2oz vs. 2.5oz, for example.

I pump around 40 – 70 ounces a day. In the beginning, it was such a daunting task to be faced with – one that I fought to accomplish and STILL after three months have to fight for daily and nightly. Not to mention when I stayed in the hospital for four days after my c-section and the babies needed to eat every two hours all day and all night, I asked that they be brought to me to at least make sure they latched on before EVERY FEEDING. BOTH OF THEM. And then I would pump for a half hour. Even though I would only get less than a tablespoon of colostrum. The reason I did this was two-fold: I wanted to make sure my body knew what it was in for. Producing milk for two couldn’t be taken lightly, I felt. And I really wanted to be able to nurse them tandem at home to save time and for bonding. So to generate milk supply and ensure they would latch.
The Udder Cover nursing cover-up

The Udder Cover nursing cover-up

Their suckling wasn’t strong enough to nourish them before they would get tired because they were only 37 weeks and very tiny. So we gave them formula for the hospital stay until my milk came in. Once they were big enough to nurse, it was too much work on my part to get them to latch again. I spent a week working on nursing with them and I realized I just didn’t have time because I was exhausted from no sleep and a GRUELING feeding schedule and had to spend my time and calories producing the milk; not worrying that they wouldn’t latch on and nurse every single time. So I pumped and bottle fed them and still do to this day. I never accomplish producing exactly what I need for the entire day so I supplement with formula about 25% formula per bottle to 75% breast milk. Somedays it is 50-50. Other days it’s 80% – 20%. But never under 50% breast milk. And they have each received one all formula bottle once since they have been home.
Colostrum in the hospital Day Two

Colostrum in the hospital Day Two

When someone adds into the “benefits of breast feeding” that it is “FREE,” I just cringe. It is the biggest sacrifice. It is a time suck. And it is a pain in the ass. Not to mention, the guilt and constant beating yourself up over it.
Do you know how much water you have to drink to produce 70 ounces of breast milk in a day? If you are like me, I promise you every ounce of anything I drink or eat goes to milk production. So much so that I rarely go to the bathroom; I am constipated and never pee. I have headaches all the time and I feel so incredibly parched, it’s not even jokingly amusing. Drinking water to stave off contractions when I was pregnant with the twins was overwhelming. I got up to 140 ounces a day. I still do that now PLUS everything else I drink (and add in a few more ounces of water on top of that). And my own thirst is never quenched. I am now to the point that I don’t want water anymore, but I have to drink it. And I have always loved water. It gives the babies a tummy ache, terrible gas and fussiness if I have garlic or onion, anything spicy, ice cream, yogurt, milk shakes or a glass of milk. I will plan not to go somewhere because I have to pump. I will forgo going out to dinner because I don’t want to miss the opportunity to pump for the babies’ meal. I limit my caffeine intake. I never get Starbucks and if I do, I don’t get what I really want. The aching of my breasts when I am walking around and full, sucks. Especially when Matt decides to hug me extra hard or a baby cries or Mattelyn decides to kick me while I’m changing her diaper and I haven’t pumped or I need to pump – all reasons my boobs hurt. (Also when two wet spots inconveniently show up on my shirt because my milk let down). I can’t run or jog comfortably – (I’m not supposed to at this point anyway but in another month or so I plan to). EVERYTHING I do affects my milk supply. If I get stressed out (hmmm, that’s way too easy), if I get really upset over something (I’m post-partum and hormonal!), if I miss a meal or a snack, if I fail to pump at the 4 hour mark, if I shower or use a hot pad, if the babies schedule is off at all or if my two-year-old’s schedule is off, if I don’t get a good night sleep (laughable!!), if we have company or if I am out and I fail to pump as often as I should. (The only bathrooms that have mother’s rooms decent enough to sit in for 30 minutes are Nordstrom’s, Von Maur and the BMW dealership. If you’re at Target, Kohls or Macys, or at a restaurant, chances are, you need to just pump in your car. Public restrooms are disgusting and always smell like someone just used the public bathroom to let go of everything they didn’t want to do at home! It is sad to breastfeed your daughter in a hot mess of a bathroom like I have had to do. Pumping is the same. There are no electrical outlets available even if you bring your pump with you. And lets face it – no matter breastfeeding or pumping – you’re going to get funny looks. It’s sad but true). And let’s not forget that I also miss out on the occasional social hour cocktail! And the itchiness and pain of just pumping, in general! And finding the half hour to do it. That half hour AFTER I have fed the babies at midnight and I have to stay up an hour later to pump and then make bottles. Or the half hour I want desperately to go back to bed in the early morning after that feeding but before Mattelyn wakes up – I never can because I have to pump. And I always have to have someone watching Mattelyn and the babies while I pump so one of the babies isn’t hurt while I am held captive, hooked up to the machine. And all the apparatuses that go along with the pump that always need cleaning. And we can’t forget the “udder cover” and the cone-like attachments which make it impossible to just “answer the knock at the front door” appropriately. I also suffer with losing baby weight when I breast feed. I have an extra 15-20 pounds that linger because I want to make milk for my babies. I hear over and over again, “She is breast feeding and the baby weight is just MELTING AWAY…” Not so with me! Sure, I am expending 700 calories A DAY producing milk for two. But I am also eating to do so. It again depends on the woman. Everyone is different. I actually gained weight breastfeeding my daughter. For what ever reason, my body still thinks I am pregnant and holds onto the weight while I breast feed.
The list goes on and on.
Liquid Gold

Liquid Gold

So basically, for the next 6 months at least, I will miss going out to dinner, going shopping, I’ll say no to ice cream and yogurt, skip chips and salsa and my favorite enchiladas, forgo any and all cocktail hours, most social gatherings outside of my house, walk around with an extra 15-20 pounds of baby weight, leak on my shirts, drink 5 gallons of water a day, stay up too late, get up too early, my boobs will ache, I won’t get to run or jog, I’ll look haggard. And at one in the morning after pumping so that I have enough milk produced to not have to supplement with formula that morning, I will spill ALL that I did and sacrificed for on the kitchen counter and on the floor with one tip of the bottle from an overly tired, overwhelmed mom of 93 day old twins. And that won’t happen just once. (So far it’s happened three times).
But in the end, it’s providing my babies with what I know to be the best I can provide. This is temporary, too. My chance to feed my babies from my own breast is such a small amount of time in life and I cherish this gift I’ve been given and the privilege it is to have this option and opportunity. And, it is still fascinating to me that I can nourish my babies with my own body! What a miracle! It makes me feel at one with nature and with the whole “we’re all connected” idea.
twins (1)

Almost three months old! Carson and Maxton showing their ever growing personalities.

So, go ahead and cry over spilled milk. It’s spilled liquid gold. And if you consider for a moment sopping it up with a paper towel and squeezing it into a bottle, we’ll all know and understand why. And the next time someone says breastfeeding is free, well, it depends on who is doing the pumping or nursing, I would say…
Spilled Liquid Gold.

Spilled Liquid Gold.

XO ~ Stephanie

2 thoughts on “(Don’t) Cry Over Spilled Milk…

  1. omg I feel so unbelievably unprepared right now! Holy geez! I’m not sure if I should be crying my eyes out or laughing because I’m totally screwed! Wow. You are superwoman and I’m in awe. I like knowing what I’m in for so thank you so much for sharing this. I’m going to make my husband read it 5 times so he knows what “we’re” in for. Everyone says to just keep reminding myself that every day will get a little easier. I guess you should remember that too. You’re doing a great job!! And my goodness…you make adorable babies.

  2. I hear you Stephanie!!!

    Breastmilk is definitely not free like you’ve said… Everything that you’ve mentioned in your post is so spot on! The time that you’ve to spent on bumping, the other sacrifice that you have to make in order to make the best quality milk for your baby (stop eating certain food, drinking certain beverage), and the stress that we put on ourselves when the quantity isn’t coming in as much as it would have preferred!!!

    On top of my less gifted milk supply, I was also not a very discipline mom when it comes to sticking to the pumping schedule, so as a result… I dragged on everyday pumping the “one bottle” a day if I was lucky…towards the end I can only collect enough golden liquid to provide a bottle of breastmk every other day… So when I see other moms posts talking about the extreme amount of milk that they have… Then I kept asking myself if I should just stop pumping.. What’s the point?should I spend the time that I am pumping the drops of milk or should I spend those time with our daughter??? There were so many times that I wanted to quit… But I stocked to it because no matter how little I could give her, it’s still some good milk!! So I did. I did it for three months as I have set to do even before giving both to her…

    Even though the pumping was hard but I would never forget that one time she latched and drank from me!! That was the only time that she did it ior we did it together without the help from a lactation nurse… I wasn’t thinking she would latch on but she did… And that was truly a special moment to me… The world became just she and I but nothing else…

    The last pumping was kind of emotional for me… It ended but that part of the journey was a meaningful one…

    You’ve done an exceptional work and keep up with the pumping!!! No to mention u are pumping for two lucky babies!!!

    Amy. 🙂

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