Friday, June 22, 2012

Learning Curve

Parenting has been quite the paradox.  We've had to figure out what PB&J need at any given time, what I need as I have been recovering, and making sure Momma B and I communicate at all times.  It's been emotional and a lot of trial and error.  I have been both very hard on myself and yet understanding.   I have been ridden with guilt, overcome with joy, and have cried over spilled milk (literally).  I feel a bit lost most of the time, but I'm starting to get the hang of things.  

Feeding these boys has probably been the biggest source of stress for me.  After all the time in the NICU, our boys were very used to bottles being the sole source of nutrition.  I've tried breastfeeding over and over; though they latch well with a nipple shield, neither PB nor J are able to sufficiently eat - J just lets milk dribble out the side of his mouth and PB does well, but spits up afterward every time (no matter what I eat).  I was okay with exclusively pumping, especially with J's eating issues.  It felt better always knowing how much he was consuming.  I was consistently pumping every 2-3 hours and I was very good at it while they were in the NICU.  I was still able to maintain it, for the most part, after PB came home.  However, once J came home all hell broke loose and pumping became the biggest challenge ... and the biggest source of unhappiness and stress.  I wasn't making nearly enough of what the boys required, PB was already up to 3 - 5 oz per feeding and J needed 2 - 2.5 oz.  I was overly exhausted pumping after almost every feeding and neither were on the same schedule at all - that first week they both went through periods of cluster feeding.  I also was doing it wrong.  Had I had time to research it beforehand, I would have found out I was pumping far too long at each session and I could've dropped a couple of pumping sessions and still made just as much.  And I'll be honest, we had to do a cost analysis as renting a hospital-grade pump and the necessity of formula (both for the higher calorie content they require post-discharge and sheer volume needed to feed them both) together was far more expensive than formula alone.  

Everything in me knew I couldn't keep it up.  I struggled with it, cried over it, and felt such a heavy dose of guilt for not being "mom" enough.  I felt good for having given them as much breast milk as I could during their first month, but I felt terrible for wanting to quit.  The stress, the lack of sleep, and the sheer unhappiness I felt trying to keep up the pumping schedule was too much - I was going into a dark place that wouldn't have been good for me and certainly wouldn't have been good for PB&J.  I already felt so inadequate for not being able to produce enough milk for both of them.  I was extremely hard on myself, not allowing myself to realize even without breast milk the boys would still be healthy and happy ... and I would be able to actually enjoy the time I had with them.  It took Momma B and my friends' reassurance and support for me to relent and open myself up to what I felt was best for me and for our boys.  And though I have felt a lot of relief since we decided to wean off the pumping and switch over exclusively to formula, I still feel an underlying guilt that can bring tears in an instant.  I try not to let outside influences get to me, there is so much pressure from people I know and society alone about breastfeeding and/or feeding them breast milk.  It was a personal decision and one that I am, overall, happy with - I am doing much better emotionally and our boys are healthy and gaining weight appropriately.  I couldn't ask for anything else.

Diapering has been another unexpected challenge.  While pregnant, we had planned on using the gDiaper system.  We were realistic enough to know in the beginning the disposable inserts would be the easiest for us as the newborn period is wrought with never-ending pee and poop.  Though we reviewed the videos and read all about the system, it is a bit more difficult to execute than it looks and it is not fun at all to mess with in the middle of the night.  Reality came home with us in the form of PB.  This kid goes beyond what I thought the typical newborn could come up with, at times going through three diaper changes in one sitting.  Fresh air hits his skin *BAM* he pees.  Put a little ointment on his bottom *POW* he pees.  He gets a wrinkle in his forehead *WATCH OUT!* poop is about to explode!  I've never done so much laundry in my life.  We haven't given up on the gDiapers as the execution can totally be operator error and will take practice, but the 3-diapers per change? ... we're hoping as they get older the books will be right and these things will ease up a bit.  So disposables it is, for now.  And who knows?  It may continue to be if ultimately things don't work out with the cloth inserts in future.  And that's okay.

What I'm learning is flexibility - with myself, our boys, and our expectations.  Some things may seem wonderful, in theory, but in practice may not work out.  And I'm learning to be okay with that.  I'm learning to take it easy on myself.  There is nothing I've judged myself so harshly than I have my ideals v. my reality with regard to parenting.  Thankfully, I have Momma B to soften things and reassure me.  She takes everything in stride and doesn't seem to struggle with expectations.  I think she has been far more open and flexible than I, thankfully.  She keeps me from falling apart at times, which in my postpartum hormonal haze is a very good thing!

But don't get me wrong.  I love being a mother and wouldn't trade it for anything.  These boys of ours can make me smile when nothing else can, they fascinate and amuse me, and my heart fills up every time I see them or even just think about them.  I can live up to the challenge because I love them.  No matter what, every decision is made to make their lives comfortable and happy.  That is my reality and I'm definitely okay with that.

Moral support at the pediatricians office.  =)

8 comments:

  1. Your boys are thriving and are more than loved, that's all that matters in the end! You did great for them L, don't have any doubts about that. Mommy guilt is a terrible thing! You guys have to do what's right for your family and only you guys know what that is! XOXO

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  2. They are so very sweet! And don't be too hard on yourself--you had a very difficult pregnancy, and then had to wait for the boys to come home, and now have twins to care for! All of that stuff is great if it works for you, but no one ever looks at an adult and thinks, 'oh. THAT one must have worn disposables.' If they are happy and you are happy don't worry about what is getting you all there.

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  3. They're beautiful. And please try not to waste your valuable energy on beating yourself up. Your boys are happy and healthy and that's all that matters. You should grieve the loss of what you wanted, but take comfort in knowing you're doing what's best for you and for them.

    We were total cloth diapering failures, and we only have one baby! You just do the best you can with this whole parenting madness.

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  4. I know firsthand how HARD breastfeeding is, especially in the beginning, especially when you have twins! Your boys are happy, healthy, and well-cared-for. We can't do it all, but what we can do, if we really love our children, is always good enough.

    Also: your boys really need a sane, well-rested mama. Well. As well-rested as can be expected, anyways! ;)

    I love love love that last picture. I love that your boys are calm and home and together and there are no NICU tubes and wires around them, but what I love most is their hands touching. My girls did that for months (now, when they can touch hands, one of them will roll quickly to the side, grab the other one's hand, and start devouring it). :D

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  5. Great update and I'm glad you're making the right choices for you and the boys. Sounds like a challenge in all regards, but you are doing awesome!

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  6. I'm glad you're feeling better. I feel sub-par and I didn't even have the baby, or am I trying to breast feed TWINS...but man this is exhausting! LOL. Hang in there. And don't listen to anyone but yourselves. HUG.

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  7. Twin parenting is HARD. I can only imagine how much more anxiety-producing and overwhelming it feels when it is also your first time parenting. Thinking of you and wishing you luck!

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  8. Wow - we are going to be mums to twins in 5 months time... your blog is fascinating reading. I am also concerned that breastfeeding two newborns is going to be too much for me but will try and like you try to accept it if it doesn't work out.
    I'll be following you with interest!
    R

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