Katie's Breastfeeding Journey
Last year, I found out I was expecting mono-di twins. TWINSSSS, what?! Mono-di are extra complicated because they share a placenta. At 24 weeks + 4 days pregnant, I found myself sitting in antepartum, watching Baby A’s cord flow worsen and then get better, worsen and then get better.
At 24 weeks, I had NO clue what my plan was for feeding the babies. To be honest, I was really nervous about breastfeeding but hadn’t given it much thought. The day I was admitted was a terrifying blur. OBs came to see me, a neonatologist, and a lactation consultation. There was a constant stream of people in and out of my room who knew that delivering 24 week babies was not good.
The lactation consultant talked to me about pumping and handed me a bright yellow packet with “YOUR MILK IS MEDICINE ONLY YOU CAN PROVIDE” printed in giant letters on the front. I honestly don’t remember a word of what she said to me and I didn’t look at that packet again for several days.
We made it four more days until my sweet identical boys Jack and Ben were born via emergency c-section at 25 weeks + 1 day. When I was in recovery, the nurse made a big deal about pumping. After such a traumatic birth experience, I was VERY out of it.
The last thing I wanted to do was hook up to a pump. Thankfully, my amazing husband made sure I pumped. I only pumped twice the day the babies were born, and I got DROPS. My husband used a syringe to collect the milk off my breasts.
Once I was out of the initial fog of recovery, I saw that bright yellow packet. Medicine only I could provide! Providing breastmilk was literally the ONLY thing I could do for my tiny, fragile babies. Pumping was awful, but I became determined. The NICU lactation consultant was really pushy.
At first, it turned me off. Over time, she became such an amazing encouragement to me and my biggest cheerleader. She had to be pushy to make sure my babies had the very best.
I pumped every 2-3 hours around the clock for nearly four months while my boys were in the NICU. One of my boys, Jack, ended up transferring NICUs for a swallow study and eventual g-tube placement due to aspiration.
He is not allowed any milk by mouth. Because of the chaos of Jack’s transfer, I never got a chance to work on nursing my other baby, Ben, while he was in the NICU.
Once the dust had settled and everyone was home, I considered weaning. Twins are HARD! Add in a medically fragile child on home oxygen with a g-tube and a thousand appointments, and you have one exhausted mama who struggled to find time to pump. Instead of quitting, I set a new goal to make it to six months.
At six months, I decided to challenge myself again. We do not know if more babies are in our future, and I decided not to wean before I was sure I was finished with my breastfeeding journey. I set a new goal to nurse Ben once a day.
I had latched him a few times previously, but it was truly intimidating. We work hard to nurse, and our sweet NICU lactation consultant has been such an amazing resource to us on her own time. Nursing is truly like a balm to my soul after enduring 130 days of NICU life, and our relationship is so healing.
It is such an incredible blessing to me that a baby born at 25 weeks who was intubated, fought for his life, fed through a feeding tube, and then exclusively bottle fed for four months...latches!
Jack will eventually be able to take small volumes by mouth. I am continuing to pump for him and he is fed breastmilk through his g-tube. I also stash away what I can here and there so that when he can bottle feed, he is getting breastmilk, which is easier on his lungs than formula.
Breastfeeding has truly been a journey for me. I had no plans or knowledge when I began, but with the support of my husband and my LC, we are now seven months strong and I feel so incredibly empowered!