I was so excited and overwhelmed when I found out I was having twins. Throughout my pregnancy I had a big round belly, and all of the aches and pains of pregnancy. I had morning sickness and all day nausea, however my breasts never got sore or even larger than their normal size. My plan was to breastfeed, and this being my first pregnancy, I figured the milk would come in closer to delivery. All of my friends had a different story about breastfeeding, when their milk came in, etc. so I never thought twice that it wouldn’t — I believed my milk was on the way! I also experienced TTTS and had laser surgery at 20 weeks. Thankfully my boys were ok and we delivered safely via c section at 37+5 weeks but that is an entirely different article.
I registered for all of the usual needs for the babies and also made sure to get a breast pump, nursing tanks and bras, and all things breastfeeding.
When the babies came, the nurses and lactation consultant showed me how to tandem feed, the football hold, using the pillows to prop elbows, etc. I produced a little colostrum and the nurses continued to be encouraging. However, the milk hadn’t come in yet, so we supplemented with formula. I pumped and tried to breastfeed my babies during my stay at the hospital and produced little to nothing. Again, I was always encouraged and thought that my milk would come eventually.
The hospital sent us home with tons of infant formula in the instant bottles with nipples, which we were super grateful for! I also told my mom that we needed formula and more bottles ASAP; she quickly stocked us up with everything we needed.
I never even once considered that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed, the thought never once crossed my mind. I figured that I would pump so that my husband could also feed the babies, in addition to breastfeeding. However, this was not an option for me. Prior to “giving up” I tried everything from the specialty teas to drinking beer and continuous pumping.
My breasts never changed size, never felt any tenderness or soreness—nada, nothing! Friends told me that if I stopped pumping or breastfeeding that I would get engorged or I could take a pill or wrap my breasts, even cabbage leaves are supposed to relieve pressure. I didn’t need any of that because the milk never came. I couldn’t stop something I couldn’t even start.
I had tons of pressure from other moms who said, and almost demanded, that I breastfeed, that if I didn’t it would greatly effect my babies in the future. Some told me that I can’t give up, ever. Between that and my own self guilt, I was stuck. Do I stop pumping? Or do I continue and pray for a miracle?
I felt my body betrayed me; here I have these two miracles and I can’t bond with them through breastfeeding. I couldn’t provide the nutrients that they so deserved. It was all so overwhelming and I didn’t know what to do.
My husband and family were incredibly supportive and for that I am grateful. They listened to me. My husband held me while I cried, talking me through all of my feelings, and there were many. Too many! He supported whatever decision I made for our boys.
At the end of the day I stopped the self torture. Hormones were already running rampant in my body as I had just had my boys, and I couldn’t bear it any more. I decided to formula feed my babies and that was ok with me.
Now that I have had some distance from that time in my life, I wish that I had enough strength to stand up to those who were not supportive of me and my breastfeeding issues. I allowed them to make me feel less than, not ok. My milk never came in and most likely would not. I wish that it didn’t feel like a mom version of west side story, breastfeeding moms vs. formula feeding moms.
As a parent you have to be flexible; and know that even if you make plans, they may not work out. I learned this lesson very quickly. I made the right decision for myself and my family. We have to trust that every parent does the same and rather than passing judgments, share advice, if asked, and most importantly be supportive. Everyone will thank you, breasts included.
Kerri Stern is an educator living in Los Angeles. She and her husband are happily raising their 3 year old identical twin boys with a lot of love while maintaining a sense of humor at all times! For more articles by Kerri on Twiniversity, click here.
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The rate of twin births has risen 79 percent over the last three decades, and continues to increase. A mom of fraternal twins and a national guru on having two, Natalie Diaz launched Twiniversity, a supportive website with advice from the twin-trenches.
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