I wrote the last entry about two weeks before I actually posted it. I haven’t quite figured out how to take care of babies and write at the same time. My, what a difference two weeks makes.
I was really stressed out at the time and was still very much in survival mode. I’m still in survival mode to some degree, but things are a bit calmer now. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m usually able to get one more hour of sleep than I’d been getting or what, but things feel slightly smoother now (knocks on wood).
One of the things contributing to my stress was my milk supply. In December I started to notice that my milk supply was not increasing with the babies need, or that it felt that way. I also wasn’t getting as much when I pumped. Part of this was because I was nursing them every two hours instead of when I pumped every three hours when they were in the NICU. But even when I took that into account, it still seemed lower than it should be. Also, my period came back and my supply took a dip. I think this somewhat overlapped with a growth spurt, so the babies were nursing even more. But my supply never really increased even though the babies seemed to be getting hungrier. It was as if I’d plateaued.
I’d been working with a lactation consultant early on when it became clear that Mini Me’s weight gain was quite low. I reached back out to her, and after another meeting and discussion, she thought that maybe I’d reached the max my body could produce. She came to this conclusion because I’d been trying everything in my power to improve my supply: drinking more water, eating more, eating oatmeal, drinking oat water, taking fenugreek/herbs, drinking teas, eating lactation bars, trying to get more rest, etc. I’d maxed out the galactagogues. All of those things only gave me a tiny boost. If I only had one baby my milk supply would be more than sufficient. But with two babies, all those things hadn’t given me enough of a boost, especially because Mini Me clearly needed more. So, the lactation consultant recommended (along with the doctor and midwife) that I supplement with formula for the time being.
That was tough for me. I, personally, did not want to give my children formula. I don’t care and have no judgements about what other people do, if they use formula or not. I feel that it has a place and should be used when needed, whatever the situation. I just knew that, for me, formula wasn’t the desired option. Part of this was because I was lactating and had the ability. Part of this was science. Part of this was that I’m vegan and lactose intolerant/dairy sensitive and therefore the babies had not been exposed to much animal protein. (They were given human milk fortifier in the NICU that, unbeknownst to me, had dairy protein, which was upsetting because, veganness aside, I have a family history of milk allergies and/or dairy intolerance, so it’s something I felt should have been communicated to me. It explained why the babies were regularly constipated while in the hospital.)
So, being in a situation where, after trying everything I could, I just couldn’t completely fulfill this need of theirs was hard. My thinking was (as misguided as it was) I already wasn’t able to carry them to term, so the least I could do for them is exclusively breastfeed them. So it was tough coming to terms with the formula supplementation.
Interestingly, what made me feel bad also made me feel good. Hearing from the lactation consultant, someone who is all about breastfeeding, that my body may be plateauing at it’s maximum, made me feel better. One of my best friends said it was because, in some ways, it took me off the hook. It was not really my fault, so to speak. And, the amount I have to supplement is actually quite small. I would say that 90% of their nutrition still comes from breast milk, even more for Feisty since he is more efficient at nursing and has good weight gain. Having the formula on hand when I have a dip in supply during my period also makes me feel less stressed; knowing they will be able to eat just fine during that time makes me feel much better.
The only thing possibly throwing a wrench in this is Feisty possibly not being able to tolerate the formula I’m using, which is frustrating because it’s already fairly hypoallergenic…
So, just trying to go with the flow, adjusting as necessary. Trying to keep the stress down, though things are going more smoothly, and I suppose they will continue to get smoother…at least for a little while.