I nursed my babies exclusively for 4 months and 1 week. It was right around my birthday, in the middle of June, that I decided that I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I want to say that I couldn’t do it anymore, but that’s a cop out. I was tired, feeling somewhat trapped and starting to accept that the babies would be okay on formula. It was a very hard decision. When I nursed my boys, I felt like I was doing something right. I felt like my body was doing something right. A body, I might add, that had done a lot wrong in the past few years. I felt like I was doing what was best for my tiny guys and their development. I also liked the bond it created between us. I never really understood the idea of breastfeeding as bond, until I had those little boys snuggled under my arms 7 times a day. I knew they were taken care of, getting what they needed and when I was nursing, they were so calm and content. It was when I was nursing that I felt most like their mother.
On the other hand, nursing twins is difficult. I didn’t want to go out much because it is impossible to nurse twins discretely in public. The boys eat at the same time (a necessity to avoid nursing 24 hours a day) so I needed a giant pillow and basically my whole chest was exposed (TMI?). In addition, it took about 45 minutes each time. So obviously, I preferred to be at home on my couch rather than hiding in a back room somewhere on the floor uncomfortable and hoping no one would walk in on me for nearly an hour. If I had one baby, it would have been so much easier to sit in a regular chair and drape a blanket over my shoulder. Alas, I have two. I felt trapped at home all the time. And even when I did get out, it was like a timer was set and I had to either bring a pump with me and find somewhere to pump or rush back to nurse. I knew this period of time was finite and that’s what kept me going for as long as I did (aside from also knowing that “breast is best”). But that wasn’t the only problem. The other problem was my type A personality wanting to be sure the boys were getting enough food. And I could not know that. So, I worried. When their weight plateaued for a bit, I worried more. Even though I was told that I would know when they weren’t getting enough (because they would scream their heads off), I worried. They were preemies and I just wanted to get some meat on their skinny little bones.
I still have my regrets about quitting, but mostly I feel like a weight has been lifted off of me. I hate spending money on formula. I hate the smell of formula. I hated watching the boys’ tummy adjust to formula. I don’t like to let myself think about the ingredients in formula for too long (although Dan did some research and found some organic stuff for the same price as the Enfamil we were using). But, I can also leave the house and spend actual time in different places. If I leave the boys with babysitters and I won’t be back on time, they can just give them another bottle and I don’t have to feel like I’m going to explode or the babies are going to starve waiting for me. The boys eat from a bottle in 10 minutes flat and I have lots more time to play with them. And when I have help, I can focus on one baby and someone else gets to have time with the other. They are also gaining weight like gangbusters. I wish I could have lasted longer nursing, but there are some good things about formula.
After going back and forth for a few weeks, the guilt of my selfishness gave way to my exhaustion and need for some freedom. The boys were given at least some breast milk for over 5 months and I’m going to be happy for what I did instead of disappointed for what I didn’t do. Nursing was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. I’m so glad I was able to have that special time with my boys (I realize some moms just can’t), but I’m also relieved it’s over. Still feeling guilty, but relieved.