So the breastfeeding “relationship” (I love when they call it that) with my twins has been a little one-sided for awhile now.
BIG MOM CONFESSION: I never really enjoyed breastfeeding. Gasp!
I stuck with it for a number of reasons.
- Formula is insanely expensive. Criminally so. (If I ever win a $590 million Powerball jackpot, I’m going to buy out all the formula companies and slash the price of the stuff at least in half. There are way too many people who rely on it and have to choose between feeding their babies or paying their rent.)
- It helped me lose the baby weight. I know this isn’t the case for everyone, but seriously, within three months, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight. Like magic. Julie Bowen, Modern Family‘s Claire, had twins (in real life), and she referred to her babies “sucking the fat right out of her.” While this is a disgusting visual, it’s totally true.
- I’m told it’s what was best for the babies. I’m no scientist and I never actually read the studies. I know there’s a debate about this. I’m sure they’re having that debate over on some other blog.
- I was able to breastfeed, and so felt like I should. There’s a serious breastfeeding propaganda machine out there, and a postpartum, hormonal mom is pretty susceptible to it.
That being said, it was, at times, very hard. My boys were premature. Not by much, but by enough that one of them had to spend 24 hours in the NICU – just long enough to miss that magical window of learning-to-nurse and be given bottles (and a pacifier…so not part of my original plan!) by the nursing staff. R wouldn’t latch for the first 6 weeks and I developed a very close relationship with my breast pump.
(I can’t say enough for that breast pump, by the way. At times I hated it – pumping is a chore – but it bought me freedom. The boys drank pumped milk from a bottle when I needed a couple of hours off…and (let’s be honest), I could do the old pump-and-dump whenever I’d had a couple glasses of wine. It was a godsend.)
I had been told that nursing is a great bonding experience, and maybe it is, for some. But I never felt like it was, for us. Usually, I’d be nursing one baby while the other screamed for his turn. And the nursing baby was half asleep, so we weren’t really “bonding.”
It was exhausting – totally physically draining. In the beginning, between nursing and pumping, I was sitting on that couch for 12 hours a day – which seems like it should have been restful and restorative, but it was not. Hormonal, frustrated, and in pain, I would sometimes throw my giant, ineffective nursing pillow across the room. When the boys suddenly sprouted four teeth each and bit me – more than once – I would howl and swear that this is the last time. We’re buying formula.
I always said if I made it to six months I would be proud of us, and we would call it quits.
But somewhere around 6 months, the feedings started to get shorter, and less frequent. (I always hated calling them “feedings,” by the way. My boys aren’t farm animals. But that’s the jargon the books use, so we’ll stick with it.) R had figured out how to latch. We had even mastered “tandem nursing” – i.e. both babies nursing at the same time. The window for that is short – once they’re big enough to sit up on their own, good luck getting them positioned – but it does save time.
And at 6 months, while I still wasn’t enjoying it, it was working for us. And formula hadn’t magically gotten cheaper. So we kept going. By their first birthday the boys were nursing just twice a day – first thing in the morning, and right before bed, and drinking water from a sippy cup the rest of the day. A few days ago, I phased out the morning feeding, without any problems.
Yesterday I introduced them to “regular” milk. What a strange thing, that we humans drink cow’s milk. They loved it. D will only drink it warmed, but that’s a minor inconvenience.
I was worried the boys would find it hard to let go of the nighttime feeding. I didn’t typically “nurse them down” – they’re really good at putting themselves to sleep – but that last feeding has been part of their bedtime since “bedtime” became a thing.
I put some warm milk in sippy cups and gathered the boys around me with some books. We read stories and drank milk. And then they went to bed. No tears, no fighting it, they just went to sleep (and stayed down 12 hours, I might add).
First I was glad, and then I was inexplicably sad. I grabbed a giant bowl of ice cream, poured myself a glass of wine, and headed to the couch. I scrolled through every single picture of the boys on my iPhone – there are hundreds – and fought tears. I’ve been looking forward to this for months. So why am I so sad about it?
In losing this last vestige of babyhood, my boys feel less like my babies and more like my sons, distant, separate, their own little selves. Which is exactly how it should be.
But I never thought I’d mourn the loss of something I didn’t enjoy in the first place. It makes me wonder if I’m going to have a mopey ice-cream-and-wine binge when we say goodbye to diapers.