Monday, September 1, 2008

Regime Change - Baby Nurse Arrives

Our baby nurse arrived on Saturday evening - and the regime change has begun. Instead of floundering with a million different pieces of advice (from 3 separate lactation consultations, 1 visiting nurse, my mom, etc.) we are going to go with her plan - for now. It is difficult because I have read so much and talked to so many people that I have my ideas. But she is extremely experienced and so highly recommended and we are paying her gobs of money so it seems stupid to be stubborn on my part - we'll see how I feel on her system and if it isn't working we'll adjust.

As I've mentioned I am very committed to breast milk. I'm not opposed to 1 feeding of formula a night for sanity sake but I want any other bottled milk to come from me, plus I want my little ones to get the hang of feeding from me directly. Our baby nurse is aware of this and I stress it every time we have a feeding. She is helping with latching, etc. but my little ones definitely don't eat as well off me as a bottle - yet.

I am exhausted - before she arrived I was doing 3 hour feedings - 1 on each breast for 15 mins, then feeding them supplement in a bottle, then pumping for 15 mins to try to get my supply going.

Here is our new "baby nurse" schedule:

6 am, 9 am, 12 pm, 3 pm, 6 pm, 9 pm - feeding 1 of the babies on both breasts (usually takes about an hour - hard to get them to latch or drink well so far). The other baby gets breast milk in a bottle. The hope is that if one kid is only getting my breasts he/she will drink and if they realize they'd get a bottle right after (as we were doing) then they'd be lazy and wait for the easier bottle. Finally, I pump so to get my supply up and store up milk for the bottle fed baby. So far I'm managing to stay on top of bottle needs but I do worry about it so I am taking Fenugreek, drinking Mother's Milk and lots of water (shooting for about a gallon a day). It takes a while to "wake up" the baby on my breast - undressing, diaper changes, burping help but it is such a long process - I just would love for them to wake up and be dying to eat on my breast. We try to start the baby who is on the bottle earlier so that such baby will have more time to get hungry before the next feeding when he/she will be on my breast. And we try not to overfeed whoever is taking the bottle.

1 or 2 am (based on wake up) - Baby Nurse feeds both kids formula. 5 or 6 am (based on wake up) - start our day time cycle again. We also "top them off" with a little formula (like half an ounce) for the 9 pm feeding to encourage a little extra sleep.

I had been getting up at 1:30 am to pump but Baby Nurse and Husband wanted me to sleep last night so I did (and woke up totally soaked of course). I know you need to pump at least 7-8 times a day and with our baby nurse schedule it is only 6 times so I told them that if my supply at all diminished and couldn't keep on top of their needs I would reintroduce more pumping at the expense of my sleep. I'd love to find time to squeeze in one more during the day but with the 3 hour schedule and feedings that take 1.5 hours (since whoever is on my breasts takes about an hour then I pump) I just can't find the time.

I do feel a little more sane for getting sleep. Since the bottle is so "easy" and takes a fraction of the time as breastfeeding I absolutely see why so many women give up but I am determined to make this work - but am only mentally committing to the next 2 weeks. Anyone can get through 2 weeks - it's how I've survived rough patches at work. Eventually I'd like to be able to feed them both at once on my breasts because otherwise how could I feed 2 when there is no baby nurse or husband around? It would take me at least 2-2.5 hours to feed them both if I did one on the bottle and one on the breast. I'm going to talk to our baby nurse about this in a week or so - for now I want to be able to concentrate on "learning" about each baby when it is his or her turn on my breasts.

I'm also totally jealous of moms with 1 kid. If I only had one I could feed him/her, then pump - and have a nice extra supply stored up for night feedings (for Husband or whoever since I need some sleep!). I also spend so much time feeding that I'm still not great at swaddling, changing diapers or changing them - and especially bad at burping (they are so little and squirmy). How do people do this without help - Goddess, you are truly a Goddess since I know you did it mostly on your own with just your husband!

They are one week old today! In some ways I feel like I've had them forever (since I love them so much) but I also feel so much like a junior associate - no idea what I am doing and completely overwhelmed. Right now I am pushing thoughts of "oh, my God, how do I raise these kids and work my crazy job" in favor of - "let's get through the next feeding."

It's been too busy to take many photographs but I promise to post some tomorrow. It was pretty funny that I considered it an accomplishment that I changed into fresh pajamas (and showered) before the 9 pm feeding last night. :)


Anonymous said...

I *heart* this post. I'm doing it with one baby and don't find time for pumping as much as you are. Looked in the freezer today and we have only 9 oz. stored, yikes! You're amazing!!

Stacey said...

You are doing a phenomenal job! I've heard that it takes lots of work to get a rhythm going so don't give up...

Sally said...

Sounds like you're doing a great job! I remember those long, sleepless, early days of trying to nurse sleepy babies who won't latch. They were hard, but worth it. 8.5 months later, my boys can latch on within seconds if they're anywhere near a bare breast and nurse like little monsters. good luck!

A. said...

Just a friendly tip - your body makes its most milk at night. Skipping pumping/breastfeeding for the whole night (9/10 pm until 5/6 am) will teach your breasts to stop making milk then, and could really reduce your supply. With the babies still so young, it may be good to try to fit in a quick pumping session in the middle of the night. Not the most pleasant reason to drag yourself out of bed, of course!

Small goals are great, I think trying to make it two more weeks is a really good idea. You can re-evaluate then.

Sorry to chime in with "assvice," I don't want to come off as sounding too militant. Do what feels right, and lord knows you're definitely doing wonderful so far! I'm so amazed, I know how overwhelmed I was doing this for one baby, and you totally rock for managing it with two!

Liz Jimenez said...

Good luck, I hope it all works out for everyone.

At only one week old, we were just bringing them home from the hospital, and I did have some family in town for a week or two, so don't think I'm some superhero. :-)

Good luck, good luck! Let me know if I can bring you guys some dinner at some point. I'd be more than happy to cook something, and hey, then I get an excuse to see teeny babies!

Rebecca said...

I am going to avoid any advice (how can this seem so hard?!) but feel free to email me if you want any---I did BF both babies for a year. However, I also wanted to say hang in there!! It gets SOOO much easier. By 5-6 months, my guys were taking maybe 5-10 minutes each to eat---and it was a piece of cake. So, take it week by week, but also know that each week gets so much easier, as the babies wake up, get better at eating and get a little easier.

Nancy said...

Sounds like you're kicking some butt!! (and man, you sound so sane...I'm not sure I would have sounded as sane that quickly out of the hospital.)

I was never able to get my supply up enough to feed them both, so I nursed and bottle fed the entire 6 months and then they just got formula from 6 - 12 months. Sounds like you've got a pretty good supply going if you're already giving them bottles of breast milk, so I wouldn't worry TOO much about things :) And hey - if they end up with one formula feeding, no big deal. It actually may end up being a good thing since, as you stated, it will help them sleep a little longer at night.

You'll figure out what works best for you and the babies. It just takes time to get into your own groove-thing. Give yourself (and the babies) time to figure out HOW to feed and then do the tandem feeding. But remember that it takes practice, practice, practice. But it SOOOO saves time one you're able to do it.

As always, let me know if you wanna chat - I'm always around :)

Anonymous said...

You are doing a great job!! Keep up the good work! You know you can contact me anytime you need advice or encouragement!

I do have to agree with A. about skipping pumping at night. The first 6 weeks is all about establishing a supply. Also, at some point when they are more wakeful you may find that they want to eat more frequently than every 3 hours... totally normal.