The featured blogger of the week is Elizabeth of Bear Creek Honey! Elizabeth is the proud MoM of 4 month old twins Grace and Leo.
What made you decide to start a blog?
I grew up in ND and I moved to NE and got married. I started blogging after my husband and I moved into our farmhouse and started renovating it. My family in ND wanted to keep up with what was going on, so I decided to start blogging so I could update one place and many people could look at it. I wanted to get serious about blogging when I found out I was pregnant with twins because I LOVED reading other blogs about twins and twin pregnancies. I really couldn’t get enough. I kind of slacked on updating about the pregnancy, but now that the Grace and Leo are here, I’ve been updating it more. I want the blog to be a source of hope to those who are pregnant with twins and those who have just brought theirs home from the hospital. I want to be honest about how hard twins are, but that it DOES get better and more manageable.
Were you surprised to discover you were pregnant with twins?
We were completely surprised. I knew I was pregnant early on because we had been trying for awhile and I finally felt some churnings down there that I hadn’t felt before. Churnings is the best way I can describe it. Things were happening. I took a test, it was positive, so I called my doctor and he had me come in for an ultrasound at 6 weeks. The ultrasound technician was quiet and I couldn’t see the screen. I was worried that maybe I had miscarried. Then she said “What would you say if I told you that you are pregnant with twins?” I looked at my husband and we said “Really?!” And then all we could do was laugh. We tried for well over a year to get pregnant and I was worried that it wasn’t ever going to happen, and then we find out we’re having 2 babies?! After I got over the shock, reality kind of sank in. I kept thinking “Two babies? What am I going to do with two babies?”
In the beginning I got really anxious thinking about the pregnancy and what 2 babies would mean. It wasn’t what I had in mind and I started to feel guilty that I was dreading having 2 of them. But then I read a book that made me feel a little bit better about the feelings I was having. The book said that when women think about having babies, they don’t usually think about having twins. Their future usually involves having 1 baby, waiting a few years, and then having another one and so on. All that one-on-one bonding time with your little one. So when you get the news that you’re having more than one, all those dreams kind of go out the window. And it’s OK to grieve those dreams. It’s OK to be a little sad that it will never be just you and your one baby learning about being a mom and taking care of your little one. It’s perfectly normal to feel scared and anxious. But then you start to feel the kicks from 2 babies, and start to imagine life with both of them and everything just kind of falls into place. I can’t imagine not having both Grace and Leo. Actually, I can imagine it, and life would be a little less chaotic with just the one, but I don’t want to imagine just having one of them. They’ve been such a blessing.
You mentioned that you had to overcome a lot to breastfeed your twins. Do you have any tips for other families that are struggling?
We’ve had a lot of issues breastfeeding. The babies were born at 36 weeks, and while that’s not ridiculously early, they were both on the smaller side. Grace was 4 lbs 7 oz and Leo was 6 lbs 3 oz. They were both jaundiced and everything put together made for 2 very tired and very lazy babies. I think Leo would have been able to breastfeed somewhat from the beginning if he had had more time on the breast and if I had known what I was doing. But it’s hard to give your undivided attention when you have 2 babies to take care of. Grace on the other hand wouldn’t open her mouth to eat. In the beginning she latched, but she got tired really fast and she just needed to gain strength. So I pumped and bottle fed them. We still worked on latch though, and by 5 weeks Leo finally figured out latching. So I would bottle feed Grace on my lap and I would breastfeed Leo. But Leo mostly hung out at the breast and after awhile I would take him off and he would still be hungry. So I would have to bottle feed him. It would have been easier in the beginning if I had been able to feed them separately, but they always woke up at the same time to eat. I couldn’t give Leo the attention he needed to get more efficient. Grace finally figure out latching at 8 weeks, but then 2 weeks later we all got sick and when she started to get better, she had forgotten everything we had learned. We started over from square one. First she learned to open her mouth, then she learned to take more of the breast into her mouth, then she learned how to suck, and then finally she got it all working together. We’ve made it past lazy eating, flow preference, and milk supply issues. We had so many frustrating feeding sessions and lots of tears, but now that they’re eating better it’s so worth it.
Here’s where we are right now: They both breastfeed, but they never take complete meals in one sitting.What I used to do it breastfeed them until they pulled off, and then I would immediately get bottles and start pumping. But that never gave them the opportunity to try and get more from the breast. So what my lactation consultant suggested is get a scale, feed them each session until they pull off and then let them play for 20 min to 1/2 an hour, put them back on, and repeat. Weigh them in between and keep track of how much they’re taking and keep feeding them until they get enough, which for us us usually around 3 1/2 to 4 oz. It works for us, most of the time. Sometimes they get too frustrated and hungry to eat like that so I’ll bottle feed them the rest of their meal and pump. Anytime I have to supplement them I pump, that way I can keep my supply up. It’s exhausting just typing that out, but it’s worth it. They’re 4 months old now and I figured if they do exclusively breastfeed sometime soon, all that hard work will have been worth it because breastfeeding them is SO much easier than pumping and bottle feeding them. And if they never exclusively breastfeed? Well then I can say that I did everything I could to make it happen and it just didn’t happen
I just want people to know that it is possible to breastfeed, even if you get off to a rocky start. They may never be exclusively breastfed, but that’s ok. It’s hard work, but it is possible.
What is your best advice to a new MoM or Dad of twins?
I have a few pieces of advice…
Find a lactation consultant. I can’t stress this enough. Nursing twins is no joke and you’ll need all the help you can get, especially if you’re a new mom. Find a consultant that you feel comfortable with and if you need to visit more than one until you find one that you like.
Just because you have twins doesn’t mean you can’t have the “normal” experiences you want. You can produce enough milk for 2, you can breastfeed 2. I’ve had people ask why I don’t just bottle feed them. They wonder why I pump instead of formula feed. I feel like pumping mothers don’t get the credit they deserve. Just because your baby isn’t breastfeeding doesn’t mean they can’t get the benefits of your breastmilk. Pumping milk for your child is a huge commitment. Don’t let people discourage you from doing what you think is right for you and your family. I hope more people start to realize that it isn’t just breastfeeding or formula feeding. There is another option.
Another piece of advice is people try to relate to you the best way they can.Sometimes people don’t realize how their stories affect pregnant women. If the only way they can relate to you is by telling you horror stories of their best friends-sisters-cousins-mail mans-wife getting pregnant with twins and delivering at 24 weeks due to preeclampsia, then so be it. It’s just their way of letting you know they know what you’re going through, even though they have absolutely no clue. People are going to come out of the wood works with all sorts of horror stories and ridiculous advice. I personally don’t want to hear how you were a twin and your twin sister died in utero, all while I’m 36 weeks pregnant and worried about anything and everything to do with my babies. When you hear these stories it just makes you more aware of how what you say affects other people. It’s a learning experience and I know the next time I want to share something with someone, I’ll think a little bit more on how my advice or story might affect that person.
What question, or questions, do you have for the other families in the community?
I want to know if and how other moms lost their pregnancy weight. I gained 60 lbs while pregnant and then dropped 45, but I’ve gained back 10 of those lbs. I’m terrified exercising is going to affect my milk supply, but I need to start exercising and eating healthier. How can I exercise and keep my milk supply intact?
Whew! I didn’t realize I would have so much to say! On my blog I go into more detail about what the first 4 months have been like. I hope that my stories can be an encouragement to other women out there.
Be sure to leave your answer to Elizabeth’s question in the comment section and then head over to Bear Creek Honey to leave some bloggy love!