Silver boobies 🥈🥈

So I made it to 6 months of breastfeeding twins!

It’s been a road with a few twists and turns… read on if breastfeeding journeys interest or intrigue you!

My tiny baby girls were born at exactly 36 weeks gestation, relatively well for twins – one went to NICU for 3 days with breathing difficulties, and the other became jaundiced so went into an incubator for phototherapy. Neither a great start from a breastfeeding point of view! Both were “prescribed” 100% their daily calories in premie formula, which they had through NG tubes initially, then from bottles.

Day 3, when we were all reunited after Aria came back from NICU

We were discharged on day 5 with two massive boxes of formula, and began the unholy triumvirate of breastfeed/formula top up/express every 3-4 hours… indefinitely. 😶

It was insanely gruelling. We basically didn’t sleep more than 2 hours at a time, for two months! But the support I got from a Facebook group devoted to Breastfeeding Twins & Multiples was a godsend, and gave me the will to continue. They provided smart & encouraging advice available 24/7, plus plenty of stories from people who had been through it and survived… and were still going!

Key here was their mantra Never give up on a bad day and their revolutionary view that the use of formula is not literally the devil’s work (the attitude I unfortunately encountered in my NCT breastfeeding session), and in fact that combination feeding is a healthy solution for some mums who are being overwhelmed by the demands of exclusive breastfeeding. They also emphasised that it’s not a one-way street: you can use formula for a while and then gradually work your way back to exclusive breastfeeding. This message was definitely absent from my NCT class! And if I hadn’t had people telling me it was possible, I probably would have given up shortly after we left hospital when it was so, so hard.

One month old on the trusty Peanut & Piglet pillow

There were so many moments I would have given up, if not for that group. When it hurt for no apparent reason; when the babies didn’t put on weight fast enough despite the schedule, so I was advised to top up more and restrict breastfeeding to sessions of 20 minutes max; when the endless evenings of cluster feeding made me doubt my milk supply; when the breast pump made me despondent; when I was excruciatingly tired and just wanted everything to be easier.

Their input, as well as the unconditional support from my OH and my mum, gave me the will to persist. Oh, how we persisted.

Very smug after finally tandem feeding without a specialist pillow… this is called Koala hold

Luna, my firstborn, was a great, strong determined feeder, and basically brought my milk supply up single-handedly. Aria, the younger by 1 minute, was a more delicate and sleepy feeder, plus suffered with reflux so half the milk that she did take immediately reappeared. 😫 Still, she gained weight steadily on the 9th centile, so we kept going, feeding on demand, every 2-3 hours and sometimes much more frequently. I expressed using a hospital-grade double pump 6-8x per day, to make up for every formula feed. I ate flapjack accordingly. So much flapjack.

I weaned formula top ups for Luna first, a couple of weeks after their due date [about 6 weeks old], because she was feeding so well. By this point I was expressing over 500ml/day and therefore was able to replace all of Aria’s top-up bottles with expressed milk. Such a great moment when the steriliser moved from the middle of the kitchen counter to the corner to gather dust!

Eventually, after their 8 week check, I weaned top ups for Aria too, and we moved to simply breastfeeding on demand. And it all got a lot more relaxed. 👍

The babies form an orderly queue and the 🐶 provides back support!
Thriving!
A rare al fresco tandem feed

Their weights stayed stable without top ups, and I kept expressing once daily to maintain supply and so other people can give a bottle of expressed milk when I need to sleeeeeeep.

During the 4-month sleep regression. Note the coffee. So much coffee!

And here we are! SIX MONTHS. It’s been such a rich and amazing experience, as well as being incredibly hard work. Definitely 100% worth the effort though – any version of feeding two babies involves a lot of work, but the powers of the magic boobies are so much greater than just food. They soothe and quieten. They make the babies smile and snuggle in close. They make them fall asleep! And overnight, even if they wake several times each, I often feel the surge of oxytocin that comes with the let-down, a soothing soporific rush that makes us both drift easily back to sleep afterwards. I honestly have no idea how I’d have managed without them.

Magic boobies cause simultaneous naps

I have become a passionate believer in normalising public breastfeeding, because it is a hard enough task without women feeling additional societal pressures to keep it private. However, I also don’t know anyone personally who has stopped breastfeeding for any reason other than it being too physically and emotionally overwhelming to continue to struggle with it, and/or futile due to either their own medical history or their baby’s specific problems with feeding.

I think breastfeeding is a normal thing to do, and that it should be accepted in all contexts, but I don’t think it follows that not breastfeeding is an abnormal choice. It is the appropriate choice if the costs of breastfeeding are too high for whatever reason. It is also a choice a lot of women feel forced into making during an incredibly stressful time, and my gut feeling is that with more support and individually tailored advice some of those women would be able to continue rather than stopping sooner than they would like. Others may be able to make the decision with more psychological equanimity, if they knew that for whatever reason it would be unfeasibly difficult to continue.

Meanwhile my two babies are showing all the signs of being ready to introduce solid food alongside milk, so that’s our next step. I’m genuinely proud to have reached the recommended 6 months, and so grateful to everyone who supported me in person, and all the ladies in my phone, who have facilitated us reaching this milestone.

6 months and going strong 💪

🎲 BABY DICE 🎲

I have a theory that when you have a baby in attendance, you can put in as much effort as you like into making an event lovely and enjoyable and fun, and then… you roll the Baby Dice.

  • Roll a 1, and whatever preparation you made was utterly in vain because the baby? Has gone feral! Angry beetroot mode: bright red, inconsolable, embarrassingly loud. There is no continuing with the plan: Priority One is diffuse the baby, and nothing else matters til that’s done. Expensive food? Delicate negotiation? Audience with the Queen? Doesn’t matter! You have to break off and get out of there, or else.
  • Roll a 2, and you have an angry crying baby on your hands who will only be settled with constant, devoted parental attention and who will dissolve back into crying the moment that attention lapses onto something else, eg any hint of a conversation. If this baby deigns to breastfeed, it will do so with maximum back arching, whining and writhing so as to expose as much boob to passersby as humanly possible. And then it will vomit.
  • Roll a 3, and you have a grumpy baby. Liable to kick off but easily mollified with lots of smiling and shushing and rocking; comparatively a breeze!
  • Roll a 4, and you have a lovely sociable baby with big smiles and minimal grouchiness. She may cry in your friend’s arms but will instantly settle with you. She is basically cute AF. People will smile indulgently in your general direction. However, she may also re-roll into a 3 or below with precious little warning, so relax and stop paying attention at your peril.
  • Roll a 5, and your baby is asleep. So damn beautiful. So quiet. “Is she always like this?” people ask in hushed wonderment, and you will laugh wryly and demure that no, no, often she’s quite a handful (or other adorable euphemism). She will not wake up and demonstrate how non-cute the reality can be.
  • Roll a 6, and your baby is awesome. Awake! Smiley! Chatty, even! Charming strangers and turning your own heart to putty. She will prefer to babble and coo, and show no interest in crying or shrieking. She will pull adorable instagrammable faces, or play entertainingly intensely with her toys. If this baby feeds, she will do so with efficient gusto and then fall soundly asleep wearing a beatific smile.

Of course, when you have twins, at every occasion you roll two dice. Good luck! 🤞

Chilled and content… for now!

Anyway, today during a random afternoon in Stoke Newington we rolled two 6s and it was great. We went for a walk in Clissold Park, pottered along Church Street, then got hungry and debated for a while: curbside eating? Picnic in the park? Risk taking our whole ensemble of cockerpoo and bulky double buggy somewhere indoors?!

We bit the bullet and stopped in the Red Lion. It smelled really good (fresh hot pizza!) and was fairly empty, but to begin with I was laughably tense. Even though the babies were asleep, it felt like a lot could go wrong. And then… the babies kept sleeping! I relaxed a bit. The soothing combo of fairy lights and decent music worked its magic. We had a pizza and a tasting flight of ales, each. Then the babies woke up – and were really rather lovely! They sat quietly, fed peacefully, squeaked and burbled in ways that I found endlessly entertaining, and beamed at all and sundry.

This could go very wrong… 😬
All smiles!

Eventually, instead of a sudden meltdown, they gave us loads of warning that the grace period was nearing its end. We made a brisk but not too awkward exit, and escaped into the evening with almost zero hostile stares. Win!

I did not come away from this thinking we can go to the pub like we used to. I felt like we got bloody lucky. But I did come away feeling like it’s not impossible either, and that’s just what I needed this week.

Do you have any experiences of rolling the baby dice? I’m convinced it’s not just me who feels the success or total failure of an occasion is essentially left to chance these days! 😂

When Lightning Strikes Twice…

⚡️🍀⚡️

Hey, we thought. Let’s have a baby! 

or rather, we thought: Let’s stop trying not to have a baby, whilst very aware that when a woman’s in her early thirties (me) the chance of getting pregnant straight away is pretty small (just under 1 in 7, or about 15%), and fully content with the idea that it could take months or even years to actually conceive said baby.

Oh really? Said fate, or Sod’s law, or whatever you want to call the power that makes unlikely things IMMEDIATELY happen at maximum intensity.  Feeling pretty relaxed about all this, are you? We’ll see about that! 

Lightning struck twice that first weekend; exactly 8 months later, our tiny twin girls were born, and it’s fair to say that nothing since has been the same…

⚡️🍀⚡️

We’re now 4 months in and I have come to realise that I need a place for the whirligig of rants, ruminations and eureka moments that form the mosaic of early parenthood in the internet age. It’s remotely possible these bits and pieces might be interesting or helpful to other people, but if – as is way more likely – they are not, then this will still be a tidy little time capsule for me, which my future self might return to, to re-live these strange early days with the wry fondness of hindsight, that would otherwise have been lost in the mists of sleep-deprivation…

AKA if I don’t write it down it’ll be gone forever as I currently have the memory of a cartoon fish. 🐠