Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thoughts on the NICU - 3 of 4

I'm a milking machine!

  • My very first opportunity to pump came about 10pm, the night that the babies were born.  I had been given my pain medicine and also medicine to keep the itching down and I was given the pump (by a nurse I wasn’t real fond of) and was told to pump without much instruction at all.  As I sat up that night to begin the process, I nearly lost my lunch (of which I had had nothing to eat for approximately 24 hours at this point).  10 minutes of pumping and I had nothing to show for it.  That night is somewhat of a blur expect for nurses coming in to give me medicine, the next morning I had my first consultation with the Lactation Consultant, “LC” and was told the basics of breastfeeding multiples.  I was told to pump for 30 minutes every three hours and since my babies were in the NICU this would become my ritual for at least the first 5 weeks of their life.   This routine proved to be exhausting as even though I didn’t have babies at home with me, I was still getting up in the middle of the night to pump so that I could maintain my milk supply.  The nights when I accidentally slept through one of the alarms were nice in that I got more sleep, but bad in that I missed getting that milk.  By the 3rd or 4th week, I was pumping consistently 6-8oz per session 8 times a day.  It was a blessing that my milk was in and was abundant.  Thankfully we were stockpiling as the babies were not taking in near what I was able to produce in the beginning (they have definitely caught up, but we still have a healthy supply.)  It was not until the 4th week that they were in the NICU that they allowed me to try to breastfeed the babies.  The LC came and we set up to breast feed Truett and Ellis separately as that’s what they generally do in the beginning.  They took to the breast immediately with a little help from a nipple shield which the LC felt was amazing considering their prematurity.  I breast feed them separately each time I went to visit for the next two days.  Then on Saturday, a week before they came home, I brought out the Big Bertha of nursing pillows, the Twins/Plus My Brest Friend, which became my Best Friend.  Modesty went out the window, and I became the milking machine for my boys.  In the beginning, I would nurse them until they would fall asleep which would be maybe 10 or 15 minutes.  Then we would work to wake them back up and when they just couldn’t take anymore from me, we would try to give them supplemental milk of 15-20mL.  After nursing, I would then pump for an additional 30 minutes because I knew that the babies weren’t emptying me.  EXHAUSTING!  I tried my best to switch sides that the babies nursed on during each session because I knew that this would be better for my production.  It became a game trying to remember who was on what side at what time.  Sometimes we just gave up and fed without thinking about it too much.   The whole process took an hour and half from start to finish and then it would start all over again in an hour and half.  Crazy!  The nurses and LC just let me do my thing in the last week that the babies were in the NICU and it was nice because we had a semi private room once I started this breastfeeding venture with the boys.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but it’s not quite what you envision when you think of breastfeeding.  
Daddy burps Truett
Daddy burps Ellis

Ellis' milk coma
  • This process has changed for the better now that the boys are getting older and we have fallen into a routine.  When first brought the boys home I was breastfeeding as much as I could so that they could maintain their ability to latch on.  They did great, but I was again exhausted because of the supplemental milk, and pumping afterward routine.  By about the 4th week of being at home with the boys, I started pumping almost exclusively since my in-laws were in town.  It was about this time that they started just breastfeeding once a day and then taking bottles (of expressed milk) the rest of the time.  It was a life-saver, since there were lots of hands at the house and the boys could be fed while I was pumping and we knocked out two birds with one stone.  This actually helped prepare me for going back to work since I knew that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed the boys at work, it got me into the routine of breastfeeding once per day (sometimes twice) and pumping the rest of the time.  They do great when the breastfeed now and actually I think that they get even more than when they take a bottle because they are always spitting up afterward.  I’ve set goals for myself in the breastfeeding season that I am in and I’m about to make it to the 4 month goal.  The next goal is 6 months and I’ll just play it by ear from there.  I must take it one day at a time as it can start to get overwhelming.

  • It was during this time that Netflix and Facebook became my companions.  I needed something to do to occupy the time while I was pumping or breastfeeding and I found several shows to fill that time.  I have now watched all of Accidentally on Purpose, Samantha Who?, Drop Dead Diva (season 1) and Friday Night Lights (Seasons 1-4).  I’m currently working on season 5 of FNL.  I know that there are better things that I could fill my time with, but it just became a habit.  Now that I’m working, my pumping time is filled with reading my Kindle or taking a much needed nap.  
The last post should be educational for all who have ever wondered what it takes to be discharged from the NICU.  

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