The chapter on breastfeeding, that is. I wanted to write an Instagram post because it’s faster and more instant but I have so much to say that I decided a blog entry is the way go. Also, I would like to remember this chapter many years from now (don’t close down on me, WordPress) so that hopefully, one day, the twins will get to read about it.
With Elliott, I breastfed him for close to a year. 21 days shy of a full year, to be precise. I know this because I wrote about it here. It was quite a different journey with the twins.
Right from the get-go, we supplemented with formula milk for the twins. I remember our lovely PD telling me at the hospital, when he came round for checks, to “please go ahead and supplement ok? You’re feeding two. Don’t be too hard on yourself”. So yes, Edith and Everett took a mixture of breast milk and Karihome infant formula milk from the start.
With Elliott, I was truly blessed to have been able to give him 100% breastmilk for the first 6 months. I had no issues with supply then and I knew that with the twins, the body will automatically know what to do.
And it did.
I was able to nurse them from the start, at the hospital. I have videos of their little mouths suckling and having to stop briefly to rest because they were so tiny and having to work for their milk was exhausting for their little bodies. I am very glad I captured those moments on video because it will never ever happen again. Not in this lifetime anyway. I’m done having kids, and I am done with breastfeeding.
Quick note to new moms: I know it’s all hazy and scary when the new baby arrives and you’re trying your darnest to keep the kid alive but please record videos of yourself trying to nurse, or nursing your baby. It will be a treasured clip in years to come.
Other than supplementing with formula milk with the twins, I also decided to pump and get other caregivers to give them their feed via bottles. I tried to nurse them directly but it wasn’t very efficient. Edith was pretty good at latching but Everett was too impatient. He’d get extremely frustrated if he couldn’t get his latch on (i.e. milk wouldn’t flow properly) which translated into very loud and angry screams. Think thrashing about, cry-until-face-red type of situation. It was too stressful for me.
I even tried to latch them at the same time and boy, it was DAMN CHALLENGING, to say the least. When I finally got one twin to latch one, I’d have to gingerly try and get the other twin to latch. And this involved twisting my body into weird angles. And more often than not, by the time I managed to get other twin to latch, the first twin would have unlatched because of my twisting.
TOO MUCH EFFORT, people! And I did not have the brain space or energy to keep up with the let’s-nurse-them-together feat. Twin mums who do this regularly has my utmost respect. I don’t know how you do it, man.
During the first 3 months, despite my best efforts, I wasn’t pumping out enough milk and we always had to top-up with formula milk. No matter how much milk I had, I always tried to divide them equally. However, I was slightly biased towards Everett as he was the smaller twin so if I had a bit extra, I’d always ensure that it went to Everett.
However, by the 4th month or so, I managed to pump enough milk to feed both almost exclusively on breast milk on some days. Not every single day but some. Those days felt good. Despite convincing myself that it is entirely ok to use formula milk, there was always a tiny niggling doubt at the back of my head that I wasn’t giving them 100% breast milk. It’s crazy, isn’t it?
The breast pump and I soon developed a close relationship. I pretty much stopped latching directly and pumped exclusively. I used the same pump as I did with Elliott, the Unimom Forte. It’s a hospital grade, double pump from South Korea which is supposed to “effectively stimulate your breasts to adequately raise your hormones which increases your milk production and output.” I’m not sure about all that but I just know that it worked well enough for me in extracting milk for the babies.
Using bottles to give the twins their feed also meant that we could all tell how much they were drinking each time. We faithfully recorded how much they’ve drunk into a notebook as it is easy to forget what time they drank, or who was already fed! This was something taught to us by our confinement nanny. I guess with twins, I did not have the luxury of time (and energy) to latch them on demand. I’m not saying that this cannot be done. Many twin mums do it. It just wasn’t for me.
We followed a 3-hourly schedule and when it time for their feed, their caregivers would warm up the breastmilk in the fridge and gave it to them via bottles. We started with glass bottles from Nuk but soon transitioned to Hegen bottles. We used the latex Nuk teats that would end up going “flat” after one too many rounds of sterilising. This led to us having to stop feeding the babies to “unflatten” the teats which led to Very Angry Babies. Aiyoooo.
Tried the Hegen bottles and they were WONDERFUL. No issues with the flattening of teats and we can see exactly when the bottle was emptied out. Also, the square shape means the bottle opening is HUGE – makes it easy to pour milk/formula in. I also like the one-snap-to-close and one-twist-to-open method because when you have 2 angry and hungry babies, SPEED is critical. We now have 4 Hegen bottles that we use for the twins.
Weaning off the babies this time round was pretty uneventful, to say the least. They started on solids once they hit 6 months old and they are WONDERFUL little eaters. For now. I hope I don’t jinx it by typing it out. Now that they’re 7 months old, they’re eating 2 meals a day (lunch and dinner) along with Karihome Follow-On formula milk. They don’t seem to need, or miss breast milk very much! When I try to latch Edith, she suckles for a minute or so before being distracted by whatever that’s happening around her.
So yep, this entry is to commemorate the end of my breastfeeding days. I do not know the exact day we stopped but the fact that our formula milk runs out really rapidly, I think it is safe to say that we are done with nursing. Forever.
Does it make me sad? Not really. I was quite happy to be selling off my pre-loved maternity/nursing clothes on Carousell and as weird as this sound, the fact that I can now take any type of medicine if and when I’m ill pleases me. I also love that I no longer need to worry about leaky boobs at 3am or lug 10,572 pieces of pumping paraphernalia whenever I head out.
I am just glad, and thankful, that I got the opportunity to breastfeed all my 3 kids, no matter how long/short the journey was. Like I have always believed, breastfeeding isn’t the only way to bond with your child. There will be a gazillion other ways to build a close bond and we have our entire lifetimes to do so.