Feeding Our Twins
My lactation journey presses on; a reality involving more tears and compromise than ever anticipated, along with ample reasons to be thankful. Victory in this story will not be found on the premise of my own grand perseverance and achievement. Success has indeed only surfaced by the means of God's constant provision, and the pivotal realization that my parenting style is due for some updates and alterations.
Welcome to my ever developing artisan's skill of keeping our twins growing and healthy. Here, various forms of providing nourishment have acted as tools throughout each stage. We have employed an assortment of methods such as: gavaging, breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, pumping and fortifying. Dictating factors at hand were of course Annette and Charlotte's medical intricacies and premature birth. Up until now, I was convinced that by willpower and endurance, (obdurate determination) I could maneuver around these complicating components and eventually breastfeed.
Weight graphs repeatedly slammed in my face have displayed the bitter proof that our girl's best interests contrast from the manner in which I long to provide. Six months down the road, we have settled upon solely bottle-feeding. Ergo, striving to supply both volume and the immunity benefits that breastmilk yields, I have turned to exclusively pumping. This was not my first choice, this is not the easiest choice, and yet, it is currently the best choice for giving my lovely ladies what they need.
Starting off in the NICU, and here again, I find myself insufficient in producing enough breastmilk. Therefore, feeding my daughters has ruefully become an emotional endeavor, heavy laden with stress. As you may relate; there is a powerful, innate desire to provide, and provide the 'best' for my children. To lack the ability to do so, regardless of effort, lead to misplaced feelings of discouragement and inadequacy.
Additionally, I mourn the fact that what should be natural, healthy, and promote bonding, has taken on a concrete sequential, and taxing hue. My days morph into nights, all revolving around a 2-3 hour pumping schedule. Our cupboard sports all the tricks: supplements, herbs, cookies, teas, oatmeal, almonds, protein, and oils (*see the refrigerator for beer). Each item has worked to a degree, yet not the degree which Nettie and Lottie require.
My body and spirit had become fatigued (which helped nothing). I had spent these past months 'giving it my all', consequently eroding my energy and optimism, to no avail. The situation forced me to turn from my initial response of determination, aka a goal of self-reliance, to accepting my weakness and embracing outreach and dependancy. Oh how my pride cringes!
Blessed beyond my stubbornness, I have experienced the beauty in relinquishing the exclusive role of provider. We are beyond grateful to have many individuals in our lives whom are both generous and attentive. An example of this radical kindness: the four women who have at one point selflessly donated their own frozen breastmilk. I am not ignorant to the level of the sacrifice this gift bears. With Nettie and Lottie’s unique needs, I realize my preconceptions of what is best practice parenting to serve them must be altered. In this instance that means allowing space at the table of influence.
For the girls (and boy’s) benefit, I will gladly scootch over a tad for the wonderful people placed divinely in our lives. My identity as mom is to not be the answer but the guide. My responsibility is to surround these little ones with what is uplifting, positive and encourages growth. Security in my capacity to do this parenting thing solo would be false and brittle. In closing the door to our home, I would rob my children of an opportunity to see Jesus work through the hearts of others. By allowing outside influence, now and in the future, we are drawing from multiple pools of knowledge, strength, and wisdom. As a community, we can offer to feed our children infinitely more richness, support, positive influence, and opportunity.
There is a shift taking place currently in my heart, from tangoing with that blasted all pump day and night in desperation to work independently, to putting forth my best efforts through a peaceful and grace filled state of mind. Today I learn to joyfully (rather than shamefully) accept the frozen milk of my incredible friends. May I never shy away from broadening and enriching our families network. What is today milk, will tomorrow be social interactions, involvement and encouragement. I will push away my pride from obstructing my children’s view of witnessing others act as Jesus. Although I had heard it many a time before, I now truly embrace the complementary nugget of wisdom to accept help. (Which apparently I needed to learn first hand)
This is not the finish line of victory I had hoped for. Lactation this round, has been a crash course on what it means to place the needs of each child, ahead of my own preconceptions and desires. My shortcomings were a trading post, to exchange self-reliance for gratitude. Watching our community love on these children, whom I cherish with all my being, has tsunami waved me with emotion. Rather than limit my children by the perimeters of my own abilities, I can now welcome our loving friends and family to support them alongside us. I accept their help humbly and gratefully. Lessons learned: parenting is managing a team, not being the MVP, and need is not a weakness. Facing obstacles such as this, are opportunities to watch the reckless love of Christ shine through some crazy beautiful hearts.