Thursday, December 15, 2011

The F-Word

Dedicated to the women of the world that think "the real 'F' word is formula":

Like many expectant moms, I read plenty about how to best care for my babies. And in my reading and  research, I decided that breast was best and that because of that I would be nursing my twins for at least the first year of their life (I'd play it by ear from there...).

I ordered an EZ-2-Nurse pillow, specifically designed for nursing twins, a breast pump, and 0 bottles.  We moved to a rental house less than 1 mile from my office, so I could nurse after going back to work.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 were born 35 w 2 d.  So they were a little early, but not much (36 weeks is considered full term for twins).  They weighed 5 lb 13 oz and 5 lb 7 oz.

The first thing the hospital staff did when the boys were born was put in a feeding tube through their nose.  Apparently this was standard for babies this small.  Their first feeding was formula.  I actually was kind of pissed that they didn't consult me for any of this.  But the nurses kept insisting on the importance of bringing up their body weight.

Before I ever put the babies to breast, I used a pump.  I squeezed out the most minuscule amount of colostrum.  This went straight into their feeding tubes.

The nurses literally weighed the boys with a super scale before and after each attempt to nurse, and if they didn't gain enough ounces, they would then feed them through the nose tube.  (No sucking necessary.)

A friend of mine recently had a premature baby here at the hospital where we live now and instead of a nose tube, they made the baby suck on her finger while she slowly fed through a syringe on the side...teaching the baby he had to suck to get a full belly.  I wish we'd done that with my boys.  Because I feel like the nose tube made them lazy!  They didn't need to suck hard to get a full belly, so why bother working so hard at breast time if afterwards you'd get rewarded anyway?  (By the way, the staff is coming off very unsupportive, but this isn't true.  They all cheered me on at my insistence to nurse. They wanted me to succeed, but they also had a job to make sure the boys were as well taken care of medically as possible.)

I held out not giving my boys a bottle for 11 days!!

The doctor wouldn't sent them home from the hospital until they were over 6 lbs and feeding on their own (no nose tube).  And after 11 days of traveling back and forth to the hospital every day...I finally broke down and gave them bottles, because I just wanted to bring them home!  # 1 I'd been in that hospital for 12 weeks on strict medically prescribed bedrest.  #2 the hospital was a 30 min drive from our house, so every day I was getting up and commuting (even though I wasn't supposed to drive after my c-section) to the hospital in time to be there for the 7:30 am feeding.  Then I would pump.  Then take a nap in a room with one of the boys on my chest doing Kangaroo care.  Then feed. Then pump. Then nap with the other baby.  Then feed. Then pump. Then nap. All day. When Superman got off work, he'd meet me up at the hospital for dinner.  We'd stay there until the boys' 9:30 feeding and then drive home for the night.  (I wanted to stay at the hospital and try feeding through the night too, but the nurses insisted I needed rest.  They said that the stress and exhaustion might be part of the problem with my milk supply.)  After almost two weeks of this, I broke down and said "take out the feeding tube and just give them a bottle."

When we left that day, I took one of the hospital grade pumps home with me. If I couldn't get the boys to latch, I'd at least pump and feed them my own milk.  Heck, I could do that for at least 6 months right?

We also took home a supplemental nursing system to use with it, because I was trying to get the boys to suck at the breast to encourage production...but it was not practical for me being at home all alone with twins and I just couldn't get it to work the way it was supposed to.

As I've explained before, my supply was pitiful. My milk never fully came in. I never (ever) had "let down".  I drank Mother's Milk tea. I took Fenugeek supplements. I drank liters and liters of water. I did kangaroo care. I pumped every 2 hours, on the dot. But still I barely made enough to feed one baby, let alone two.

Then, after 8 weeks of pumping and supplementing with formula (or really I should say after 8 weeks of feeding formula and supplementing with breast milk), my supply finally gave up.  And so did I.

So I'm here to say "Don't you dare compare formula to a four-letter word!"  Formula is what kept my babies from starving when my breasts didn't do as nature intended.  Would I have preferred to feed my children 100% breastmilk, sure I would have. Because as one wise mother has said: "Breast is best, but formula isn’t toxic. In fact, its pretty damn good."

Friday, December 9, 2011

Almost a year!

I just realized that it has been almost a year since I started this blog.

My first entry post was on January 4, 2011.  So, in just a few weeks, it will be one year.

To date, I have posted 62 blogs (not counting this one).  Which means over 11 months I have posted an average of 1.3 blogs a week.  That is not terrible.  Especially not for my first blog.

May 2012 bring an even more fruitful blogging experience (maybe a few more readers too).

Until then, I have a few more weeks left of 2011 to help my average. Maybe I can get it up to 1.5!

Christmas Under Attack

So, apparently GOP nominee-wannabe Rick Perry says that “our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.”

I agree that political correctness can sometimes be taken ridiculously far.  But, c'mon people, do you really believe the "majority" of Americans really feeling persecuted on this one?  I was a student too long ago to give my personal experience as a student, but I was just a teacher in public schools a few years ago, and we still had Christmas in school (I loved our ugly Christmas sweater contests!)

Heck, I was visiting an elementary school earlier this week and they had a write a "letter to Santa" bulletin board. And I live in a very liberal college town with a lot of international students. If Christmas is still in OUR schools...I have a feeling it's not the epidemic Rick Perry wants you to think it is.

"No prayer in school" does not mean prayer in school is illegal (you will not get sent to jail, or even detention for praying in school), it just means no organized prayer in school.  No mandated prayer in  school. No one (teacher, principal, coach, etc) can force anyone to pray, thereby also pressing their personal religious beliefs on a child. Your child.  Think about it...I have a colleague who is Muslim and is a social studies teacher at a local middle school. What do you think most Christians would do if SHE led a prayer in her class?! They'd freak the fuck out! Freak. The. FUCK. Out. They'd be picketing. Rioting. No, burning the freaking school down.

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating.  A little.

But most Christians I know would be really upset about that. To say the least.

Every school, every morning during announcements (at least every school I've ever attended or taught at or visited for any other reason) observes a moment of silence. This is a moment (about a minute or so) set aside for both the students and staff to take a moment to relax, be calm, and reflect on their coming day. An opportunity for those who feel so inclined to say a prayer. And they can start it for themselves as "Dear God" "Our Heavenly Father" "My Creator" or "Dear Lord baby Jesus", or however else they personally feel compelled to pray. Because religion is, and should always be, a personal choice. A BELIEF if you will.

I attend and am a member of a Christian church. But occasionally, we attend other churches, most commonly my in-law's church. And even though both of our churches are Christian, I get uncomfortable during parts of their service and many of their prayers, because our churches just have such different interpretations of things. I often will block out what is being prayed and say my own, different, silent prayer in my head. One that fits my beliefs.

I can almost hear it now "well, children who believe differently or don't want to pray could do the same thing." But here is a huge difference: #1 I am choosing to be sitting in that church. No one forces me to go, not even my in-laws. Children do not have a choice to go to school. #2 I am a grown adult with formed beliefs, and those people in the pulpit of my in-laws church are not my role models or mentors or authority figures.  I can easily distinguish between what they tell me and what I personally believe.  Children are typically much more easily influenced than that.  And bottom line is, if my children are praying, I want them to pray prayers that are meaningful to them and their beliefs, not their teachers, or classmates, or some government official somewhere hundreds of miles from their classroom.