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June 15, 2010

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The F Word

Our boys are small. I know *logically* that they are twins and they were born a month early and they are breast fed, on demand, from the boob, not bottle expressed breast milk. And so I know that all of these things are going to lead to a smaller baby. I know that.


But it’s hard to see all of these chubby 4 month olds and realize just how behind your baby is in the weight department. At their last check up they were in the 3-5% for weight. Ouch.

Now, since learning this I’ve also done some research and found out that our current scale is being revamped to show today’s true standards.
Did you know the current evaluation scale is based on a study that was done in the 1970’s on a very small sampling of middle-class, white, Midwestern, formula fed babies? Not a single breast fed baby in that study.
And yet, that is what our babies are measured against. Then there’s that childhood obesity epidemic that has been steadily climbing in the past 3 decades…..
So my babies probably are higher if there was a breast fed baby scale to go by. But there’s not.

I’m not a doctor and I trust my doctor when he says the boys are fine. Very small, but developmentally fine. But, no one is urging me to drop a feeding or anything like that, trust me.
And so, for 4.5 months now, I feed them. Every 3 hours, 24 hours a day. Sometimes 2.5 hours. It is exhausting. I am sleep deprived beyond belief. I am fragile. I am forgetful. I feel more and more overwhelmed and out of control. It is not good this constant state of fatigue. Not good is an understatement.
I want them to weigh more. I want people to stop asking me if they are newborns or 2 months old or remark on how small they are. I want to stop explaining that they are twins and yes, I know they are small and they will be OK.

Up until Argentina we had only supplemented with formula very few times. It was mostly an emergency backup for when we were out and they were both hungry at the same time. But on vacation…well, we used a lot more of it that we ever have before. We had to. There were too many times I simply could not pump. There were two 11 hour international plane rides. And there were 3 domestic plane rides. There were taxis caught in traffic and car rides through mountains and restaurants we would’ve been at all day if I’d fed them both and, and, and.
And they gained weight.
Not that they weren’t gaining weight before. They were. Slowly. As a lot of breast fed babies do. But they really got a bit chubbier in those 3 weeks with some formula supplementation.

And so I made a hard decision. Once we got back home, I decided to keep giving them some formula. We do one dream feed around 10pm every night and it’s a formula bottle. We also do one bottle right before they go to bed around 6:30pm and that has become an expressed breast milk bottle.
I’m hoping that (1) they get more calories this way. I know they are. (2) the formula helps stretch their sleep a bit more and I can sleep a bit more. I know this is working because last night–for the first time ever, the twins slept for 5 hours after the formula dream feed and I got 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
The only other time this has happened is when Chicken has given me a ‘bottle night’ as we call it.

I wrestle with my emotions over this. I never, never in a million years thought I would be so attached to the idea of exclusively breast feeding. Especially not with twins. I think it’s almost become my badge of honor. Like, well, I couldn’t have my own kids and my body fucked up my pregnancy and my boys came too early and I had to have a C-section and now this. Now, I couldn’t even make it six months with breast feeding without giving in to formula. I can’t trust my body is capable of feeding them. Even with taking the milk drugs.
Right now, the milk drugs are helping my supply and getting them more bottles which I could have never done before. And that is so nice.
But I have to be honest. I need two things desperately right now. Sleep, and my babies to gain more weight. If a little formula is going to accomplish both of these, then that’s what I’m going to give them. I hate it. But that’s how it is.
And that, my friends, is my story of my battle with the F word.