Sunday, May 20, 2012

Boooor Rrrring.

I used to think I was pretty great at listening and giving advice,etc. I've had lots of friends over the years and logged several hours of helping with decisions, helping deal with couple issues, new baby issues, pregnancy issues, and just laughing until I cried because of helpless issues. I say proudly that I have been in 15 weddings as a bridesmaid. Each one I could name and write 15 blogs about the special relationship each one of us have. I used to have a brain that funcioned on other issues than breastfeeding. Now, I'm just a boring non-listener.

Yes, now I am the most boring person I know. All I can talk about these days is breastfeeding. I'm positive that the last four phone calls or emails I've received from friends I've reverted the conversation to breastfeeding.

Consider: At Walmart a lady friend spots us and comes over to goo over the babies. By the time we said goodbye I had said "nipple" way too many times, told her all about my low milk supply, and that I wanted to throw my breast pump into a blazing fire. She was a great sport, but why cant I help myself?!

I feel like my world has stopped and my very existence is to feed my twin boys. I'm never more than 2 hours from the next feeding and while they aren't taking a nap they look at me with those four little eyes like ticking time bombs. I'm always on call.

This routine consumes me. Even down to getting routine teeth cleanings and cavities filled or getting my hair cut. Every single appointment or wedding, or shower, or oil change I'm thinking of 'where can I feed them?' or 'will my breasts explode before i get done?'

Today a friend asked me what I liked best about being a mom of twins? She might as well have asked "What do you like best about Sumo Wrestling?". The thing is, I dont really consider myself as a mother. I think if myself as a breastfeeder.

One woman posted a twin forum: "Breastfeeding twins is just under Navy Seal training in terms of intensity."

Yes, I did deliver my twins. How could I forget, right? But I feel like I've done so little mothering. If anything my husband does more of the mothering. He has changed more diapers and made more babies smile than Angelina Jolie.

Even when I'm trying to capture a smiley photo of them and laughing with my older son, I m always thinking of when the next feeding will be. What can I get done before they are hungry again? I've read that mothers are programmed to be single minded when breastfeeding otherwise their baby would starve. I guess that makes sense.

I'm acutely aware that too many wrong moves-- a long dentist appointment, a day at the hair salon, stupid people changing my oil-- and my supply would dry up like a puddle in July in SE Oklahoma.

Before I was a breastfeeder I wouldn't have pegged myself as a type to blather on and on about nursing. I remember with fynn I didn't even know if I wanted to nurse him. My pregnancy with him was also just like being left-handed. I just was. That was it. But breastfeeding is different. Not only because it demands so much attention, but also that I have busted my you-know-what to keep up my supply.

I'm blessed that my boys were born at 38 weeks with NO NICU TIME! Yay! But here I was with 2 skinny boys that had no idea how to suck. When I offered my nips they may as well been sushi rolls. They weren't interested. When we figured out the latch they would just fall asleep. Not that I blame them. Its like a heated water bed down there. I was getting no stimulation therefore I was producing no milk.

I started pumping. I loath pumping my breasts. Especially after letting two uneducated sucklings knaw on my nips all day. When I would put those pump shields on I felt like they could extract milk from my deceased breastfeeding ancestors. Youch!

I did this, and mothers tea, and fenugreek, and even a drug not legal in the US for milk production. Still no milk.

It was an incredibly hard time. We used eye droppers and eventually bottles to feed the boys. My husband and I did everything imaginable for them to have breast milk. We even received donated milk from a wonderful mother. She will forever be my baby's Milk Angel. Finally all the hard work paid off.

I wanted to throw in the towel several times, but I just couldn't. Everyone knows breast is best and by Job I was going to give them the best!!!

After many calls to several different lactation consultants and many visits from my midwife for weight checks, one day they both started eating.

It was a Thursday.

I had been blabbing and almost cussing the twins one day to my wonderful friend Annette. Wednesday's were our day with Her. All morning she would clean and hand me babies. She would inspect the situation and let me just ramble on and on about their problems. Two babies. Two times the breastfeeding challenges. I will always be grateful for Annette. I will also know exactly how to help a friend with twins now. Feed them and fold their clothes! Oh and sweep their floors...see she is wonderful! They are 3 months and she is just now weaning me off coming every other Wednesday.

On that Thursday it was as if Graham had been listening to Annette and I. He latched on and ate with hard gulps! And then Graham went and told Nolan how wonderful it was and Nolan started eating right!

After 6 weeks of audacious effort, my milk was finally flowing. I could at this point handle all the guys solo.
It goes something like this:

Wake up at the sound of Nolan hungry. Change diaper.
Feed Nolan, make coffee somehow.
Fynn wakes and tells me what he dreamed about while getting some morning snuggle time.
All while Nolan gets breakfast.
Graham fussing. Nolan goes in bouncy seat. Graham diaper change. Fynn goes in chair. Oatmeal is prepared.
I grab oats (increases milk supply), hook Nolan on one side, Graham on the other.

Enjoy breakfast X4.

Happy babies long enough to get fynn down and playing puzzles or animals.
Babies nurse again one at a time according to fussiness.


Play time with fynn!!

I'm exhausted just typing all this so I will stop there.
My point is...

Breastfeeding is such a non-event that I can do it while reading, facebook ing, crocheting, or playing cars.
Early on I could never have imagined it would go this well. Easy at home, but something to see. Everyone who sees me tandem feed wants to take our picture because it is so crazy! I just ask them what in the world would you do with the picture and they snap out of it.

Tandem feeding is not something you do at Starbucks.

I see women slipping their baby under a cover and chatting away while sipping a smoothie.

There is no stylish cover that can shield from the public the specticle of two 3 month olds suckling down their lunch.
You would have to set up a tent.

These days when out and about I feed them in the car, or I feed them under cover one at a time.

At home I have a worn spot in the couch with my Boppy raring to go and a bouncy seat so close it is almost in my way. And boooooobs everywhere.
When they both get going it is something to see (just not at Starbucks). Graham has his own style. Grabbing his own personal jug with both arms. Clinching fists. With a glare that would intimidate any milk hungry baby. All babies but Nolan.

Nolan is so chill that he goes totally limp. He would fall right off the Boppy like those sleeping cat videos.
He drifts off into a euphoric state. Eyes crossed and lids at half mast. Slow, rhythmic pulls like clockwork.

Graham burping startles him to death. It is the sneezing panda video all day here.
It is so amazing how different they really are.

Oh and sometimes when they eat.......

See, I'm doing again. Being boring.

When I think about how my life is so revolved around breastfeeding I can't help but add up the hours spent.
Sometimes I nurse or 40 minutes, not including set up time. Multiply that times like 12 times in the day, plus pumping sessions and night feedings, all by seven and that's almost 80 something hours a week simply feeding my babies.

Breastfeeding is all I do therefore it is all I talk about. I know, I know, it's supposed to be an intimate, bonding time. Well, then I calculate it. I've almost spent as much time Breastfeeding in the past 3 months as some women spend n a year. I have to wonder:
How much more bonding can the three of us really have?

I'm already itching to quit. Or at least scale back. I'd like to have some of that time to be a mother rather than breastfeeder. I'd also like to be the one who gets to run to the store for diapers just so I can sneak a Coke! If I had just a few extra hours, then I could put an end to this crazy need to discuss my milk supply and stop being the most boring and annoying person in the world!

I know that time will come so soon. But right now it seems like light years away. So I will keep feeding and keep testing my friends patience. I promise I wont write another post about breastfeeding!!!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Twin Homebirth

this is fast, raw, unedited. (unedited because I don't have time to. hehe) 

   i have been thinking about the way my boys came compared to the thousands of birth stories i've read in the 9 months before their birthday. this is not a typical, relaxation, breathing, visualization, birth story that you may be expecting to read.

       I had been having contractions at night for about three weeks on and off. Not the BH kind either. Real, crampy, contractions. But they always fizzled out. I killed them with a protein shake and peanut butter and RASPBERRY jam jelly sandwich some nights. Man, I'm going to miss those. I wanted those guys to stay put as long as possible, but at the same time I trusted that when the contractions didn't stop that they were letting me know it was getting crowded in there.

  In my 38th week I was feeling great most of the time. My 22m old, Fynn,  could probably take only one nap a day by now, but I always encouraged an afternoon nap due to my heavy belly.  We had just gotten home from errands and lunch together. We laid down for our nap that Friday afternoon and I slept very hard. I woke up before he did, of course, to go to the bathroom. When I stood up it was evident that someone's waters had broken. In those first few moments there are so many emotions that take over at once it is like you are on drugs. It is hard to collect yourself after such a message from your body. "Hi, we are about to have some babies tonight." I made the phone calls to husband and midwife and started to gather things to head to our birth location, my midwives cottage. We live in a very remote area with no hospitals nearby. We chose to birth at my midwifes cottage that was about 5 minutes from a hospital if transfer was necessary.
     From my previous labour I started to worry that I would not start any contractions and infection would become a worry that, in turn, could start the ball rolling toward intervention. Something I did not want. Those worries were stopped immediately when I felt strong surges while giving Fynn a bath. I must say that he was my best distraction while getting through the first stage of labor.
       My husband was at work several hours away, by that I mean four hours away! He immediately headed home. My brother-in-law was four hours away in the opposite direction and he was on his way to stay with Fynn through the night. I wanted to take these hours to get through the first stage of labor peacefully and especially spend time with my sweet baby boy. Fynn had taken me to lunch earlier and I sat and thought of how perfect the day had been. We talked about the babies coming home and practiced holding a stuffed bear. After a bath we were both getting a little anxious about Daddy getting home. It was 9:30pm when I finally saw that excited, perfect smile of my Husband's. I immediately felt another surge, but not a contraction this time. It was the love hormone overwhelming me and I could not believe he and I were about to experience such an amazing miracle together. The same guy that asked if he could kiss me only 4 years ago. Life changing kiss. For some reason this is the memory that came to mind when I saw him.
      I felt us unite as a team as we got in the car beaming with excitement. Fynn was perfect entertainment on our 45 minute drive to Ft.Smith. Halfway there I hit active labor. I could feel my body progressing rapidly. I tried my best to relax and let it do it's work. We arrived at the cottage around 10:30pm to find several people working on the gas leak! I had just enough time to go in the cottage, say my good-byes to Fynn, and rest while Adam met my brother-in-law outside to send our baby on his way back home. There he could play with Uncle Drew and have his own bed.

      After around 10 minutes my midwife, D, decided to move locations. We got back in the car and drove only a few blocks to settle in at her home. It was so comfortable there. The instant that I walked in I was put at ease from the sudden change. Thank you gas leak! For some reason I wanted to labor in the bathroom. This was the most intense part the whole experience. I could not get into a position that felt right. I was scaring myself and my husband. I was not quiet, I was not calm, I was in transition. D and some helpers were setting up the birthing pool and living room for me. When I opened the bathroom door I saw a huge rock fireplace with a soothing fire going, the pool being filled, the furniture had disappeared. Everything was ready for me. "If only I could be as calm as this room.", I thought. 
       Here we go. When I got in the tub it was around 11:45pm. I would love to share to all that I felt so much comfort from the pool, but I was way past the point of feeling any comfort. D checked me and quickly said "There is a baby right there." I was in a little shock at how fast this was going. I wanted to rest. I wanted to hit pause for just one minute to gather myself. I remember trying to open my eyes. I would focus on Adam and tell him "I wish I could stay here. I wish I could focus." And then another surge would hit me so hard I would go back into some lost place, fighting the pain and switching positions. I felt like a fish in a bowl swimming away from a net. I was trying my best to escape from pain. Relaxation was my escape but I couldn't get there.  K, my midwife's assistant was there at the pool with me. I remember her saying "Beth, blow out." After I did this I started to feel some type of control and that was the moment I first felt the urge to push. I tried my best to do gentle pushes. I didn't feel like my body was ready for delivery. This was probably just me still in shock. I would get through each contraction pushing and telling myself to let go. Not hold back. Trust that it was time.

         In a few contractions I felt the famous "ring of fire" and once again I tried to fight the pain instead of relax. I put my hand down to feel if this was going to actually be possible. Because the way I was feeling it just didn't seem like it. With the next push I supported myself and felt a little better. K was also helping me with this. It make me feel more at ease about tearing. Now I could push with confidence. 
        At 12:06am baby A's head was born. D asked Adam if he was going to catch him. Adam got into position and I've never seen him so excited and happy. Cheering me on in saying "You are doing it Beth! You are doing it!" in the best strong whisper voice. We waited on the next contraction with a pure joy, a feeling of excitement that I can't put into words. When it came Graham slipped out and Adam pulled him up slowly out of the water onto my chest. We burst in to laughter and tears all in one. He was rubbed like a little puppy to clear his lungs. He let out the most healthy cry. He was beautiful. I was amazed. We gawked over him for a few minutes while K tied yarn to his foot and to his placenta clamp for identification. My contractions lulled for me to bond. I kept praising Jesus saying "Thank  you for rest. Thank you for rest." while I fell in love with my new bundle. It was a wonderful bonding time, but not long enough to breast feed like I had hoped.  After only 4 or 5 minutes I was overwhelmed with the next surge. Adam took Graham. I had more work to do. It was Nolan's turn.

       I remember rolling over on my side in the water with the first contraction thinking " Most women are finished now and I have to keep going." in the most whinny, pitiful voice you can imagine. I felt so sorry for my self for a second. This just cracks me up now! haha. From having the time of rest after Graham was born, I felt gathered. The next contraction I concentrated on what my body was doing. For the first time I could actually feel my baby moving down with each push. I felt the progress with such detail. Nolan was working with my contractions and making his way down fast. Once again I felt the "ring of fire" and knew that the next push he would be making his way to my arms.  His head was born and Adam was ready once again, passing Graham off to K. He brought him out of the water with the next contraction at 12:23am. Nolan was so little. He wasn't as perky as Graham. We rubbed him down good and he started to protest with little cat cries. D gave him a few puffs of oxygen to help him out. His eyes were so alert right from the start. He was so captivating I could not take my eyes off his.

      I thanked God that I was a woman in that moment. Praise God that he allowed me be a woman so I could experience this euphoric event! I think this is called humbled empowerment.  Nolan laid on my chest and I felt like I had just won the world's longest marathon. And had won the world's greatest trophies!

Graham Emmitt Phillips 6lbs 14oz. Nolan Dean Phillips 5lbs 7oz.

            My midwife made all the difference in this experience. If you notice her "name" is hardly mentioned in all of this. That is how you know she is wonderful. She believes in birth. She believed in me. She watched over like a guardian. What a wonderful and important occupation. If this was a story about my prenatal and postnatal care then you would get tired of seeing D this and D that. She took such great care of my body. She educated me and encouraged me for 5 months. Then she nursed me and served me after birth. The extensive care that she and K gave me is unmatched by anyone out there. Forever grateful. 

       In the most intense times of my labor I would hear the Holy Spirit say "Let me help. Let me be here with you." I fought so hard. I fought the pain, the positions, and the Presence of Jesus. It wasn't until I could let go and allow help that my body would progress. It was a very fast labor that was shocking to me. The deliveries, on the other hand, was shocking in a whole different way. I could not believe my capacity to love! 

       Most of all, I could not have done and of this without my Husband. Every time I would get scared I would open my eyes and see the joy and pride on his face. He had full faith in me every single second of my work. I would see him and want to do better. Something happened in my marriage that night. It made me realize what it means to become one. We created life and then welcomed it into the world. Together. 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you,
                                  -Isaiah 43:2a