When you think of birth and babies, breastfeeding seems like it comes naturally, but it is not always as easy as you would think. My two pregnancies were as different as can be, like ice and fire. The first was a vaginal delivery after almost 60 hours of labor at 40 weeks and one day with a 10lb 14oz girl. The second was an emergency c-section at 25 weeks and one day where we lost one daughter (1lb 15oz) and our second daughter (1lb 8oz) was headed for a long stay in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).
I have degrees in science, but for some reason it never occurred to me that the milk doesn't necessarily just flow. The medical staff was nervous that my first might be losing weight and had an infection from an extended labor, so she was whisked away to the NICU and I was left with a pump to try and get the milk flowing. I felt very lucky that while I "primed the pumps," my daughter was able to consume donated milk, and it was a good thing! That big baby was gulping down four ounces at a feeding! She was born on a Saturday and it took me pumping eight times a day for fifteen minutes at a time, four days (which felt like a lifetime) before I finally produced my first drops of milk. After that, we still had a few days before she would latch. Finally, after her round of antibiotics, she was released to go home and though the week had seemed like a struggle, I felt confident that I would be able to breastfeed her successfully.
I fed her eight times a day til she started skipping one night feeding and would pump a couple times a day so that I would have a supply for a few times that I knew I would have to be away and for when I went back to work. I pumped enough to use breast milk in her baby cereal for beyond the first year and she finally had her last latch (a bittersweet moment) at just over two years and three months.
After struggles the first time, I had done research about how to best accomplish breastfeeding with twins. Unfortunately, the struggle here was going to be much more emotionally, physically, and mentally intense than I could have anticipated.
Due to medical complications, it was two month before I could even try nonnutritive breastfeeding. This means you pump all the milk out of your breasts and just attempt to get the baby to latch for practice. On this date, Baby B was 2lbs 8oz. Can you imagine the difference in this minute miracle and her sizable sister?
Then, we worked our way to actually attempting breastfeeding. It's natural. It should come easy. Right? Not so much. It takes a lot of energy and coordination to breastfeed, which our preemie just didn't have. When the baby is breastfeeding, it also means that the milk can't be fortified with extra calories, vitamins, and supplements.
Today, we are at just over six months of chronological age, Baby B is 8lbs 2oz, and she successfully latches and transfers(actually gets milk to flow and consumes it) every morning. Until we get on the growth curve, it is unwise to breastfeed more than once or twice a day. Baby just needs all those extras that she can get from adding to the breast milk and we save her a few calories by letting her bottle-feed. I am still hopeful that we will reach a point where we can spend more mealtimes bonding, but for now it's the pump for me.
Were you excited or disappointed to see a substitute teacher when you were in school? Did you think you were going to get away with things, have less work, or be bored by busy work? Maybe you had no idea what to expect because it was a random person that you'd never seen before. Perhaps you were thrilled to see that someone you knew was taking charge for the day. All this may have gone through your head, but did you ever consider becoming a sub (Yes, the teacher, not the sandwich.)?
Substitute teaching has many pros and cons. Depending on your situation (Eh hmm, you moms trying to have it all), it could be a great option to help support your family. Let's take a deeper dive.
Think you have what it takes to sub? Check out your state's Department of Education and contact your local school districts. Schools are in need of great subs and often will help you navigate the process. Make sure schools know you are available, be prepared to walk into anything from seven fully prepped teaching periods to a day of study halls(bring a book), and if you are willing to sub for P.E., be sure to have a whistle!
My husband said upon hearing of the double residency that had taken up in my belly, I went completely white. Now, I am already pretty pale, so there was probably some translucence happening. The nurses chose the next moment to take my blood pressure...
The doctor let me know that multiples automatically qualified this as a high risk pregnancy. Since I am no spring chicken (more like an early autumn hen), I had already had some concerns about my age at which time the doctor informed my that I was an elderly multigravida. Doesn't that sound mystical? Ahh yes, the elderly multigravida can only be summoned by mixing ground chicken bones and groundhog saliva in a virgin glen under the light of a waxing moon. It just means it's at least your second pregnancy and your due date is after your thirty-fifth birthday. Boring and couldn't they have thought of a nicer way to say that?
The doctor let me know that they would confirm the type of twins, but they believed they were identical with separate sacs, but sharing a placenta, otherwise known as monochorionic diamniotic twins. Due to some uncommon complications that can occur, my practitioner said that she usually delivered these types of twins by 34 weeks gestation. She sent me for some tests and blood work to rule out a few genetic issues and off she went.
Meanwhile, what was I thinking...
34 weeks? Does that mean it will have to be a scheduled c-section? Could they induce? Do they both have to be head down? I only have four place settings for my everyday dishes. How is a family of five going to work? When we visit my husband's parents, they won't be able to get us from the airport. Will we rent a car or will they have to take two? How do you breastfeed twins? I'll never sleep again. I need to start designing a new house (Our current one, I specifically designed to have two children's rooms with the same dimensions.). If they come early, what if they are born on our oldest daughter's birthday? You know, that happened in Full House. Becky's twins came early right in the middle of Michelle's Flintstone-themed birthday party. I don't want her to have to share a birthday. You know my first child was 10lbs 14oz. I bet these will just slide out. We aren't going to have any time after they are born, so hubby better schedule his vasectomy now.
Is your head spinning? Mine definitely was and I was off to do some research...
Random Side Note: As a child, one of my favorite things to do was get graph paper from my mom and draw out house plans. Priorities were a little different then. Ironically, I planned for two sets of twins(a set of girls and set of boys, probably because my best friends at the time were twins), having a room just for the many cats I thought I'd have on each of three floors with their own stairwell, and an indoor pool. A girl can dream. ;)
Do you have a something that cheers you up when you are down? A favorite movie, an activity, or even a food that can lift your spirits no matter what lemon curveballs life may be raining down on you? When I need a little extra pep, I turn to the Sandals' website (sandals.com). It may seem odd, but I love snooping through the sales and stacking discounts to try to get the best rates or perusing the sample menus and fantasizing about ordering French onion soup, surf and turf, sashimi, and the decadent chocolate mousse bites (excuse me as I clean the drool off of my keyboard).
My husband just doesn't get why I would enjoy such a silly thing. Well, I love saving money, traveling, food, and, of course, what most every mom craves despite the nagging guilt, the peace, quiet, and time to myself. Ahh to finish a meal out without having to play "Baby Shark" for the billionth time, constantly retrieve crayons from the floor, and actually be able to use both hands to eat!
I know this predicament is of my own creation, because ladies and gentlemen, my name is Rayna and I am an overprotective mom. I now have a four year old and a six month old and I do not let anyone, except family, babysit. I know that this means that I am outrageously lucky to have such a supportive family that I have been able to work in various capacities and earn two Master's of Arts in education in the last four years. I am so grateful that my mother, father, and grandmother(the eighty year old trooper who runs on coffee and getting her 10,000 steps a day in and handles the majority of the baby watching duties) have the time and resources to assist me that I feel beyond guilty asking for assistance if I am not specifically out working or at an appointment. They already do so much for me that I don't feel that I can ask them to watch the kids so I can go have fun.
In typical we-can-have-it-all style, I also hate to miss anything. I want to make sure my girls remember that I was always there for them. Do you remember anything from preschool and before? Me either, but I hate to chance it. This means I can count on one hand the times hubby and I have been able to go out and half of those were on visits out to see his parents (thank you!).
All this means, when I think of Sandals, the adults only, couples resort, where "Love is All You Need," for some reason, I feel a little less guilty because the kids aren't allowed to come. It also makes me feel better when other couples we meet tell us that they wish they would have taken the time to make special trips together much earlier. I can derive years of joy from planning and replanning these trips, and sometimes, like with recent events of the pandemic and the birth of my youngest, I have had to!
I tell my husband, I love to dream of seven dinners in a row that I get to take my time and finish in peace. I envision the books that I am going to read on the beach (maybe Harry Potter, Down the Rabbit Hole, or Dragon Riders of Pern). I get to imagine the fully-made-up selfies, I can take, because who has time for that from day to day. And the biggest prize of all... drumroll, please...sleeping through the night!!! Come on, when is the last time you got to sleep through the night? Yea, I don't know either, but it's thrilling to dream about.
Today, we would have been headed to our fourth trip, but I have been assured that paradise will be waiting for me when the time comes (Do you hear that, Elsa? You leave my islands alone!). Until next time, Sandals! Tonight, I dream of the now open lobster season and having a mouthwatering beef patty on the beach.
Rayna Moore -
© 2021 by Rayna Moore