Monday, October 22, 2012

Breastfeeding Finale!

Amazed at how much they like kale chips, I don't think I would have liked them even 10 years ago. Hoping this is a direct cause of being breastfed since breastfed kids tend to be less picky eaters.
It's a long one!

The boys have been fully weaned as of the last couple of weeks. The process took about a week and a half and we started a couple of days after they turned two. One by one I dropped the night and morning nursings. After that I just nursed someone at an odd time of day when I was too full of milk and each time it took longer and longer to 'fill up,' until one day it felt like I was all out of milk! It was pretty easy since my boys always nursed on a schedule and have never demanded to nurse. It was heartbreaking when they would think they were going to nurse and we'd have to redirect them elsewhere. Several times Caleb would point towards were I'd nurse him and he'd say 'chichi' (nursing)? I would think to myself, full of guilt, 'but they are such good boys! Why am I doing this?' I had to remind myself that the older they get the harder it would be to stop. I would have stopped nursing them sooner only I felt too much guilt stopping when I knew how much they enjoyed it and were still benefiting from it. It was just a couple more months and they'd turn two. Nursing them from 0-16 months the boys could have cared less how they got their milk, bottle or boob, 'just feed me!' Then something just clicked and it was their favorite part of the day. The excitement they got when they saw a bottle was nothing like when they knew they were going to nurse, it was really a treat to them and something very special. Sometimes they'd nurse for 15-20 minutes and I knew there was maybe 5-10 minutes worth of milk in there (at that point I was only nursing twice a day). I enjoyed it very much too since I got regular one on one time with each boy each day and of course snuggles were mandatory after they were finished. But it was taking up a lot of time and the older they got the more annoying it got when they were grabbing at my face, tugging on my hair, or kicking their legs around. I had to constantly remind them to settle down.

Anyone who asks I always tell them that breastfeeding triplets was the hardest thing I've ever done in my whole life! Breastfeeding in general is tough, it's like taking pre-calculus (since we all know precalc is way harder than calculus) but breastfeeding triplets is like taking precalc in another language and math so happens to be your worst subject! My ignorance of how tough it would be helped me to even attempt it. On paper I saw how it could work but in real life it was waaaaay different, especially since you aren't getting enough sleep. If only you could get enough sleep! That just makes everything 100 times harder.

My troubles started when I lost too much blood in the delivery, this I blame for my short milk supply at the beginning and perhaps why I never caught up 100%. My boys started off on 20ml/feeding 8 times a day that's less than an ounce per baby! I brought them home drinking 40ml less than 1.5 ounces and it took them 20 minutes to drink it! It was such a small amount but no matter how much I pumped or consumed all the different supplements and medications I still could  not catch up to them. Things started to turn around at about 2.5 months when I was able to produce 80% of the milk my boys needed. I'm so glad I did not give up, who knew it would take that long! When we finally got the go ahead to nurse them full time they'd fall asleep while nursing and that didn't fit into our tight schedule, I needed to make sure they ate a full feeding every three hours so we could all function. So I had to start up a more confusing pumping and nursing combination. I just wanted to stop pumping! Then around 3 months they started nursing for 5 minutes and then scream in anguish, I panicked thinking they had nipple confusion because it had been taking them 20 minutes to nurse a full feeding. After many days or was it weeks (?) of worry I called for help and turns out they had just become super efficient and were done after 5 minutes and would cry only because I kept pushing them to drink more. I knew so little about breastfeeding let alone three at the same time! Thankfully things eased up shortly after this and especially when they slept longer stretches at night.

Exclusively breastfeeding is tough because you commit to being at each and every feeding especially if you develop an aversion to pumping as I did. Since I only got to 80% of the milk needed and continued that way till the boys were a year old (which was when I started cutting back on bfing), it meant I couldn't enjoy being bottle free as I dreamed of. Also it committed me to being present at each feeding and the feedings took longer since I could never feed all three at once, I only have two boobs! This mama took no breaks AT ALL : ( And my poor babies had to stay home all day long and were rarely bathed since there was only time for the bare necessities. But I gave my boys something that no bath, antibiotic, vaccine, or medicine could give them. I gave them LIQUID GOLD for two solid years! There is nothing like it, no formula even comes close! More and more research is coming out and proving how good this stuff is and the longer the better. I could listen to it all day long, the latest one I heard is that breastfeeding can help prevent diseases and cancers that occur when a person is 60 years old! Long after mom is gone unless of course mom was also breastfed, ha! Not to mention it helps prevent breast cancer in mama too, the list goes on and on...

I realize there are some very legitimate reasons some women just cannot breastfeed and I'm not writing this to make anyone feel bad but rather to encourage other MOMs to try it and that it is possible if you really want it. There have been enough emails from other soon to be MOMs either thanking me or seeking advice on this subject for me to know there will be some who will read this and hopefully take this to heart. Please know that I'm not the only one, there are many more who have successfully nursed their triplets whether exclusively or partially. Part of the problem today is that people are too willing to accept formula as an equal substitute and don't realize how much more beneficial breast milk is. We live in a society full of false notions about body image post breastfeeding and some think it just doesn't 'fit in' to their lifestyle. Also, the lack of breastfeeding education and support that women get after they take their babies home. Little do most people know that the average mom with triplets breastfeeds(or pumps) for about 3 months, which is fantastic considering that in the US, the average mom with a singleton breastfeeds for not much longer! Go triplet moms! Yes it will be the hardest thing you ever do but the rewards far exceed the sacrifice not only for babies but also for mom.

Now that the boys are weaned we've started new morning and nighttime routines. In the morning I help Phil with diaper changes and it saves us time in the morning. We don't do morning sippy cups of milk but just jump right into breakfast. At night before bed I again help with diaper changes which also saves time. At night we also don't do sippy cups of milk, now it's just dinner, playtime, diapers, pj's, and a story. They are big boys now, no need for comfort milk, they get plenty at meals. I feel somewhat liberated now, like there isn't this huge production right when we wake up or when getting them to bed. Stopping when I did helps me to not feel guilty for stopping too soon although I do feel guilty knowing how much they enjoyed it but I'm sure that wouldn't have changed now or later. So that's it I guess, I'm closing the book on that crazy and wild journey. That's all she wrote : )

My boys are as healthy as horses, they rarely get fevers, kicked RSV in the butt at 2.5 months old, and have never once had an infection! Coincidence? I think not!  


nan cee said...

It was nice that you were able to keep up the breast feeding for a whole two years! Congratulations on that! It is best for them as well as you! The pictures you post just shows them getting bigger and bigger and cuter and cuter too!
Love to you all,

Lease said...

I don't if good job is appropriate, but I think it's wonderful that you were able to breastfeed until your boys were two. I stopped at about 14 months, long enough that we never used formula and I couldn't believe how many hours I regained in the day. Meant more time for chasing little boys!
Congratulations on giving your boys such a great start.

Angela said...

WOW congrats on going to two years! I struggled so hard to nurse my singleton--those first few months were so painful! Pumping is the worst because of the time to pump, then the time to feed, then the time to clean up on top of that. But it was worth it for all the reasons you listed, of course. He's 9 months now and still no formula.

Jonalyn said...

I'm still amazed at how well the breastfeeding went for you. Fantastic! You'll always miss it, though. At least when you see other moms nursing. :) You've got big, healthy boys!

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your honest and realistic communication about the steep learning curve it was to breastfeed your babies. And the committment you made to do what truly seemed in their best interest. Way to persevere! I trust you will enjoy many precious moments in this next phase of their little lives.