This is another post in the “let’s remember the pain, since people say you won’t remember it but I seriously wonder how I could possibly forget” department. I’m going to document just how crazy our feeding processes have been with these two little girlies.
Bear in mind, that we have done this every three hours (or sooner in many cases) for the past 3 weeks. How about this: we’ve been home for 19 days. That’s 456 hours. Divided by a feeding every 3 hours is 152 feedings. That makes me even more tired to think about than I was previously… Anyways, here is our process.
Meri starts stirring and squaking. It’s time. Jess gets out of bed to grab Meri before she full on blasts into crying. Jess gets her feeding pillow ready and works to get Meri to latch and start eating. Meanwhile, I will get up and quiet Alex, if necessary, otherwise I head to the kitchen to get our gear together. Here is what I pull out. 2 syringes, 2 plastic pipettes, a snappy full of breast milk from the fridge and a bowl of hot water. Plus 2 bottles and “nipple cups” for Jess to pump into. I fill the two syringes with 30ml of milk each and put them in the hot water to warm. I take all of this back to the bedroom and wait for Meri to finish her 15 minutes of breastfeeding time.
Jess burps Meri and I get Alex rousted and ready to go. I also take Meri’s swaddles to the changing table and lay them out ready to go. I swap Alex from the crib to Jess and I take Meri to my chair to proceed with “finger feeding” her, while Jess gets Alex on the breast for her 15 minutes.
For those who don’t know, “finger feeding” is done in order to supplement babies without creating nipple confusion. Since these girls were so small (3rd and 5th percentile for size/weight) they needed to eat more. The process works like this. Holding the syringe in my right hand, I use a piece of scotch tape to affix the plastic pipette to my left pinky finger. I then insert the tube and finger into Meri’s mouth and (ideally) she starts sucking. As she sucks on the finger (and straw) I have to keep pressure on the plunger of the syringe to make sure she gets milk when she sucks. Some times, she sucks hard enough to almost take the plunger down on her own. Other times, she is fairly lazy and it takes a long time to try to get the 30ML into her. Not to mention, that many breaks need to be made in order to burp her, since if I don’t she will scream and/or turn into a milk-based fountain and spew it everywhere. Probably 50% of the time, Meri likes to do what I call the “suck-suck-cry” method, which just extends the amount of time it takes to feed her. I’m not sure I can adequately describe how tough this is, but it’s not fun.
While I’m doing this, Jess has finished breastfeeding and burping Alex and starts to finger feed her. I take Meri to the changing table and change her diaper. Pull her diaper off and wipe her down (which always results in screaming). Hopefully she doesn’t pee when her diaper is off or puke on her blankets before I can get her swaddled up. Clothing goes as follows: new diaper, shirt (more crying), swaddle with one blanket, swaddle with a 2nd blanket and then her hat. Since she’s worked herself all up crying while changing, it is now time to try to do more burping and calming before trying to put her down again.
In a perfect world, Meri is starting to doze off as soon as Jess is finishing changing Alex. Then, I can take Alex and calm her. Otherwise, I have to finish calming Meri while Jess starts calming Alex. Eventually, one of them will go down and I can take the other. This will allow Jess to start pumping her breasts in order to give us extra milk with which to feed the girls next time. She pumps for 15 minutes. If both the girls are down, I can then take all of the gear back out to the kitchen and clean it all. Fill a bowl with hot water, and squeeze water through both syringes and pipettes and clean out the snappy we emptied with this feeding. Jess finishes pumping and takes the bottles and pump gear out to be stored and cleaned while I do any remaining calming.
By this time, both girls are in the crib but not necessarily sleeping. They will grunt and groan and make all sorts of noises. Hopefully, neither cries and needs to be picked up and burped or calmed more. We then try to lay down and fall back asleep. With any luck, it’s now 3:45 or 4am. We’ve been done feeding for about 30 minutes ago. Which means at 6:15am, just 2 short hours away, we gotta do it ALL over again.
The really bad nights are when all you want to do is sleep and you keep staring at the clock. Doing the mental math, “if they fall asleep right now, I’ll still have 2 and a half hours to sleep…” tick tick tick tick “ok, 2 hours wouldn’t be bad…” tick tick tick tick “hour and a half… better than nothing.” tick tick tick tick “they’re finally down… Shit… it’s 49 minutes until next feeding… *sigh*”.
Bad is being up 2/3 of the night feeding. Worse is spending the other 1/3 dreaming about feeding. It’s like you never stop.
That was the original process, but we have since made some changes. As of a week ago, we’ve swapped the finger feeding for bottles. Which is MUCH easier. Especially since the syringes only held 30ML and the girls are now easily downing between 40 and 80MLs which would have been a super pain in the ass if we had to do that with syringes. Bottle, nipple and insert cleaning is a pain, but the actual eating part is better.
Also, we’ve introduced pacifiers which is both good and bad. Good, in that we can use them to quiet down the girls when they’re fussy. However, that is a double edged sword. These girls will often times be sucking on them, only to spit them out and start crying. Which introduces the really fun game of “catch the bink”. You wouldn’t think it would be that tough, but you’d be wrong. Especially when they suck on it juuuuust long enough for you to get back into bed before they spit and cry. Drag ass out of bed to put it back in. Repeat as necessary.
I’m not even mentioning the diapers: 152 feedings… 1 diaper per kid, per feeding is over 300 diaper changes in just under 3 weeks. Also not mentioned is the random getting peed or puked on. Often this will happen when you are least equipped to deal with it.
Such is life with twins. Sometimes it feels like we’ll never sleep again. People tell us that things will be so much better in 6 weeks. All I can think is, “6 weeks!? You might as well say 10 years. I’ll never make it.” To be perfectly honest, Jess and I have talked about how pissed we are at single baby couples. They could swap feedings and sleep 6 solid hours! A feeding could conceivably be done in 30 minutes. They don’t have to worry about one kid screaming and waking the other. I’m sure they have their challenges as well, but man… I’d like to try that for a few nights.
But, we are seeing some slow improvement. We’re pushing almost 4 hours between feedings. The girls have started looking at your face while you feed them, which is far superior to them rolling their eyes around the room. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for 5+ hours. That would be incredible, especially since I go back to work in less than a week.
And so it goes. We’re sticking with baby steps…