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. =)|