I was reading Jessica’s blog about breastfeeding and it reminded me of when my twins were in the NICU. My twins arrived at 30 weeks and were 3 .1 lbs (Natalie) and 3.11 lbs (Julian). They were in the hospital for 46 days. When they were born I could not see them for 24 hours due to the medication I was on for toxemia. So I asked one of the nurses if I could start pumping and she got me the necessary equipment and then after I was done, threw it out because there was not much in the cup! What, did she realize how my twins were fighting for their lives and that the first part of the breast milk is most important, which is high-protein and called colostrum? No, I am sure she had no idea.
I was later moved to a room on the floor where I began the every 2 hour pumping regimen. At first I was not producing much and was very concerned about it, just as Jessica. I asked about donor breast milk, but was told that most of the “good” stuff was taken out since it had to go through pasteurization for the FDA to approve it. I was also shocked at the cost and knew with my cheap husband I had to start producing!
Unlike Jessica’s twins, mine were not able to take any breast milk or formula for a few days so I had a chance to get ahead of the game so to speak. Julian and Natalie were born on a Friday and I went home on Tuesday. Once I got home I continued the every 2 hour pumping and found that I was starting to produce more and more. I got to a point where the hospital would not store any more breast milk for me and I had to store it at home. This became a problem very quickly, since we just had one fridge.
Alcoa First United Methodist church was supplying me with meals regularly, since I went on bed rest around 15 weeks, so I had the freezer almost full as it was. When Sarah Overman, called to say she was going to bring us food and then a frozen food, I had to tell her we could not take any to freeze due to my breast milk issue. I had never met her before and she offered for us to use a stand up freezer she had, for however long we needed it. What a blessing that was! I had one less thing to worry about.
Once the twins were able to start breastfeeding, I was producing plenty. In fact they would often be drenched with milk after they were done. I look back on this now and see they were not swallowing! They were also being feed through a tube so they were gaining weight. I had asked the lactation specialist for them to be weighed before they ate and then after to see how much they were getting. Since they were so small, and Natalie had feeding issues, I was very concerned about them getting enough. Later, I asked a nurse to weigh them for me and she said the scales were down the hall and they would do that when Brian and I stayed for 24 hours before taking them home.
They never did weigh them before and after eating, and I had forgotten to ask the two different times we stayed for the overnight test. The hospital has parents in the NICU stay 24 hours to see if the child or children are ready to go home. I will blog more about this another time.
When the babies got to come home we took them to the pediatrician and then took them again after a few days to see if they had gained weight. Unfortunately, they had lost weight, so I had to pump and feed them from a bottle. I did this for 6 months and tried the whole time to get them back on the breast. I had nurses come out to try and help me and I used tubes attached to my breast to make sure they were getting enough milk. It was a nightmare! I was not giving up, because I knew breast milk had saved my life and all that my Mother went through to make sure I got the best start possible. I wanted to do the same for my children.
Fate interfered, the freezer, that was now full of breast milk went out and all that breast milk was spoiled. I saw this as a sign for me to STOP the madness. At that point I was on medication to help increase my breast milk production, which caused me to have panic attacks, and did not help my production! I know of several NEDC mothers who did go on and pump for a year, but I could not. As much as I hated to give up, I had to do what was best for me. People asked me if I cried when we discovered the spoiled milk in the fridge. The answer is, I did not. I was beyond sadness. Don’t cry over spoiled milk, what is done is done.