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Here's a chronicle of life on a plot of land right smack in the suburbs in Minnesota, whose owners would much prefer to be in the middle of nowhere.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The logistics of twins: Part II—Breastfeeding redux

I'll be sharing some of the logistical problems and solutions we've had with twins. I'll be speaking solely from my own experience, without trying to touch on all of the many options available. Please feel free to chime in with your own experiences. Part I, which talks about our earliest days of breastfeeding, is here.

Time flies

While having two babies at the same time (plus two older kids) hasn't been quite the nightmare I expected while at my most pessimistic, it hasn't been all fun and games, either. Case in point: The babies slept oh so well as newborns. Then they turned four months old. As if on cue, sleep of a several-hour stretch became the material of the dreams I was no longer able to have because I wasn't allowed to reach REM sleep. Coupled with an inability to sleep on their own, it was pretty hairy. While I have mostly avoided being touched out, I remain an introvert, fortified by time alone, preferably time alone where I don't have to catch up on the chores that never get done anyway and that happens early enough in the evening that I am not a total zombie.

That is all to say that time has flown. The last part of this series was written almost five months ago, and things have changed quite a bit. I'm happy to report that now, at almost nine months of age, Josie and Ozzie are letting me sleep more than an hour at a time, and usually sleeping on their own for decent stretches in the evening. I feel my sanity gradually creeping back.

Some things change, some stay the same

Our basic night-time routine has not changed, although the babies have been long out of swaddling. (We stopped swaddling when I became uncomfortable with it because they started rolling everywhere, and this likely contributed to the less-than-ideal sleep experience.) Babies get diapers (disposables, as I've never had much luck with cloth for nighttime and don't have the spare cash or give-a-darn to test drive options), pajamas (several layers now that it's cold), and are tandem nursed. At this point, we've entirely ditched the nursing pillow. The babies are just too big. I did, however, enjoy the laughs provided by a baby rolling off the pillow onto the bed, snoozing away the whole time.

Without the pillow, I tend to sit on the bed with my legs spread far enough to nestle each baby into my arms in a cradle hold. Their legs are piled up onto each other and it's quite snuggly (and Josie would say too warm, as she tends to get sweaty and overheated while we do this).

When we're not doing bedtime, I tend to feed the babies one at a time. They are both very content to play with toys (or the most inappropriate objects they can find, such as the millions of bits of paper their big sister leaves in her wake). The times we tandem feed tend to be before sleep and when I come home from an outing. The basic setup tends to be me sitting on the end of the couch with two throw pillows on the other side of me for my elbow to rest in comfort, one baby in a football hold next to the couch's arm, the other in a cradle hold, and my feet up on a footstool.

For a long while, I attempted to have naptime. Imagine, getting two babies to take a nap for an hour or two while I accomplished things around the house, or spent more focused time with my bigger kids! The babies' response to that was, "Waaaaaaaah!" Instead of sequestering us in the bedroom in a vain attempt at naps, we now just nurse on the couch and they sleep on me. I enjoy the snuggles (I think they do, too), and even if my big kids are still watching TV (so they're not jumping all over us), at least I'm in the same room.

Nursing in public, then and now

Even as a seasoned breastfeeder, nursing in public has had its challenges. When the babies were tiny, nursing often and almost always tandem, it was essential to have another adult around for outings. There were plenty of times this wasn't an option; this usually resulted in lots of crying and frustration for all parties. At times, using a wrap or ring sling helped; I could hold one (sleeping, if I was lucky) while the other nursed. Most of the time I counted on getting about an hour where they'd sleep or be otherwise distracted by the scenery; after that, it was switching one baby for another for the rest of the outing, but being cooped up all the time was worse than this.

Since both babies handle being in the stroller well, I haven't had the need to tandem nurse in public. Thank goodness, since it shows a lot of flesh, and even confident-about-feeding-her-hungry-babies-where-they-need-to-be-fed me isn't keen on that. I do, however, often need to feed babies yet still keep older kids under control, so there have been many times I've sat in parking lots feeding one baby, then the other, while everyone else is strapped in a car seat. I've gotten some smiles from older ladies doing this, although I hope I'm not sending a message that nursing in public is something to be hidden.

Josie and Ozzie will be nine months old on Monday. It's hard to believe that just 53 weeks ago, I didn't even know (for sure) that I was carrying two babies. The shock still hasn't quite worn off.

1 comment:

  1. Breastfeeding certainly has its challenges, but it's worth it! You're doing a great thing by working through it!

    ReplyDelete

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