Caroline and Edward and I took Steve to his post-op appointment yesterday. Holy cats, what a circus act we are. Steve on crutches, me pushing a six foot long stroller (I love the Contours Tandem. love love love it. but there really is no small way to transport two babies unless I stacked them on my head), purse diaper bag X-Ray envelope jackets helping Steve while holding Caroline while jostling Edward in his seat... even I felt sorry for me.
The word on Steve is no weight bearing for at least another month. No stairs for three. I had been hoping for something a little more immediate, but we'll get through it. I have developed something of a routine and, apart from the fact that no one picked Patrick up from school on Wednesday, things are going really well.
Ahem. AIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I lost my mind and got confused and NO ONE PICKED UP PATRICK (see: REDBOOK post Unforgiven). I get teary just thinking about it.
So I have figured out that my threshold for sleep is three hours. As long as I get three consecutive hours at least once during the night I can cope. Without it I grow increasingly fragile until I do things like NOT GET PATRICK FROM KINDERGARTEN. Last night was better, though, so hopefully I can manage to go an entire day without endangering anybody. It was depressing to have to change the workplace safety sign in the kitchen to read NUMBER OF DAYS WITHOUT FORGETTING A CHILD: 0.
The other day I was talking to a friend on the phone, carrying Edward around and tidying. Then I put Edward down, kept talking and continued to tidy. A few minutes later I realized that I had absolutely no idea where Edward was. Had I put him down in the living room? Steve's office? No clue. Obviously he wasn't going anywhere but still, rather alarming to realize that I could not tell you to within, say, twenty feet where my baby was.
But let's talk about breastfeeding because nothing crosses boundaries and brings women together like an open-ended discussion on how to feed a baby. I got an email the other day (that I will reply to, I swear) from a woman who runs a breastfeeding site (that I will look up and link to, I swear.) She wanted me to leave a comment there offering some encouragement for a woman who seemed likely to deliver her twins early and who, in consequence, was doubting her ability to breastfeed. I read her message and thought: what? Who? ME? I hardly consider myself a breastfeeding twins success story. In my plus column you have the fact that I was nursing Edward as I typed that first paragraph. In the minus column, do you know what I just bought at Target? One of those little battery-operated stirrer things that promises to eliminate formula clumps. Did you know that formula can clump even with vigorous shaking such that you can get to the end of a bottle at, oh, four in the morning and discover a deposit of yellowish sludge that lets you know the baby has just finished some barely flavored water? Well it can.
So it's been thirteen weeks since they were born and I am still nursing, pumping and supplementing. Does that count as successfully breastfeeding twins? I dunno. Since I have done everything lactation experts say not to do I sort of feel like I should keep a low profile in the breastfeeding community. Although Caroline and Edward are healthy and growing (see also: The Point) and getting all the milk I can produce, I still feel... what? Guilty? Ashamed? Ummm, not quite that. Uncomfortable, I guess. Certainly not like a spokesperson: My Babies Get Quite A Bit of Breastmilk in Addition to Enfacare! Ask Me How!
It is not like they get formula so someone else can feed them while I get a pedicure (I wish) or so I can get a few extra hours of sleep at night (and for the love of god if that is why your baby gets formula amen to that and sleep on my well-hooved sister) - I breastfeed 'round the clock on demand. Any time someone starts to smack their lips around here, I strip. And, when I can, I pump a few times in between feedings, say, three times a day or so, in order to increase production and in an effort to augment the formula. And I have moved from Fenugreek to the big guns of Domperidone (wow. the stuff is great. Domperidone literally doubled the amount I was pumping to three whole ounces at a time and I can tell the babies are getting more). All of which is to say: despite the very best efforts of myself and the pharmaceutical industry, I do not produce enough breast milk to exclusively breastfeed twins. I do, however, produce enough to keep us all happy, so shimmy shimmy boom boom.
And if it so happens that Caroline and Edward's continued flexibility when it comes to what they will eat should extend long enough for me to one day get a babysitter so I can get a pedicure... well, hooray for me.
On a related note, my new guilty pleasure is watching reality baby shows while I feed/pump/supplement. I read as long as whatever I am doing can be accomplished with one hand (although my increasing ulnar nerve issues are rendering holding a paperback more and more painful - ortho appointment scheduled for next week) but when I need both hands I sit on the couch and watch my Tivo'd trove of all things infant.
Steve hobbled in the other day, watched for a few minutes and then said, "Ah. So it's a cheap self-esteem boost for you, I see."
OK, yes, some of these people are bumbling idiots; and, yes, fine, I guess I do like to watch two people and a mother-in-law flail in overwhelmed confusion while one (ONE!) three day old baby does nothing but sleep. It makes me feel better about myself, what can I say. However, the rest of the time I just like it because the babies are cute and everyone is so excited and I suppose I must have some residual hormones floating around that are suspending my natural cynicism and making me goopy, because I can watch these shows ad infinitum. They soothe me.
Where was I?
Oh so I have been watching these shows and I finally understand who the breastfeeding advocates are talking to when they say things that I thought were painfully obvious. They are talking to a whole fucking boatload of women, that's who. Seriously I had no idea that there was so much confusion out there. Over and over I have watched nice, reasonable, educated women who were gungho to breastfeed get derailed by the silliest things. And I just want to reach through the TV and shake them, gently, and say, "Honey! I know the nurse told you that you need to keep feeding the baby because he has the slightest whiff of jaundice but that does not mean you need to stop breastfeeding and go to formula because you think you don't have enough milk to handle the problem. No no no." Or, heavens, the woman who first struggled for ten minutes with that ridiculous pink nursing cape the size of a tent (the easiest way to feed a very new baby is either 1) topless or 2) in an unbuttoned shirt - everything else gets in the way and makes things even harder than they need to be; you're welcome) and then poked the baby at her breast for thirty seconds before announcing, "She's sleepy. She's not interested" before the camera cut to her switching to formula.
So I now understand the patient reminders that breast milk is awesome (I know it sounds patronizing but seriously you should come over to my house and watch these shows with me; you'd be amazed. and bring brownies) or that you need to keep breastfeeding to build supply. It's sort of sad to watch women who want to do it give up because they don't understand the basic mechanics and they have no one around to help them.
Hmmm, I seem to have started by saying that I have maxed out my personal supply (there IS a law of diminishing returns, you know. weak economics analogies don't just end with the easiest of the graphs) and ended by saying it is sad when women don't understand they need to nurse more to produce more. Huh. Yet another example of the fact that it is always easier to solve other people's problems.
Hope you are well.
PS I FORGOT TO PICK PATRICK UP AFTER SCHOOL. AIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEE.
PPS And a picture of Caroline who is just so damned happy to be here she is giddy with the joy of it all.
PPS I knew I would forget, damn it. The breastfeeding blog is www.breastfeeding123.com. Hi Angela. I will try to leave a comment for you. I mean, if you still want me to do so, under the circumstances.