Before I even became pregnant, I knew that I wanted to try breastfeeding. However, when I found out I was expecting twins, I knew I would need a lot of support.
I enlisted the help of a local lactation consultant, Natalie, who came to my home during my second trimester. She provided me with information, encouragement, and even contact information for local moms of twins who had successfully breastfed. When my twins were born at 29 weeks, Natalie was one of the first people I contacted. I was worried that Jeremiah and Avani’s early arrival would make breastfeeding impossible, since they could not breathe or even regulate their body temperature. Nursing “the normal way” was out of the question.
With a long stay ahead of us in the NICU and weeks until my preemies could even try nursing (they started on feeding tubes), Natalie encouraged me to rent a hospital-grade breast pump to help build my milk supply to “twin level”! She even called around to the pharmacies near the University of Iowa Hospital to locate one. My in-laws graciously rented the breast pump and bought all the necessary attachments, flanges, and even a hands-free pumping bra, all before I was discharged!
Natalie was right, this pump was amazing! During the days I spent in the NICU, I used the hospital’s pumps that were each stationed in my kids’ rooms. During the nights at the Ronald McDonald house, I used the rented pump, while my babies slept in their isollettes a mile down the road in the hospital.
The pump helped me create a good supply, then a great one. I had so much breastmilk stored in the “NICU mom” freezer that my mom had to drive a load home to her deep freezer, twice. My milk supply was keeping up with my twins’ ability to eat (despite the fact that they were yet to nurse) thanks to my dedication, hydration and the powerful pump!
When we finally brought our babies home from the hospital, the rented pump came with us. Jeremiah and Avani could now nurse, but they were also required to have three bottles a day that contained my milk plus a human milk fortifier designed to help preemies gain weight. Using this protocol, my twins gained the right amount of weight and were soon “on the chart” with other babies their age.
Since then, the pump has accompanied us on many adventures; a wedding in Geneva, a conference in Chicago and a trip to Disney World.
When I left my children overnight for the first time, to attend my college roommate’s wedding in Maine, the pump was my companion. I needed to pump when the plane landed in Portland, but we had a three hour drive to Acadia National Park, so I figured I would pump while my friend drove. Unfortunately, I forgot that this pump does not have a battery and needs to be plugged in to function. We stopped at a drug store in the middle of nowhere rural Maine, which thankfully (and surprisingly!) had the right car adaptor, and I was able to pump on the road trip after all!
The pump also accompanied me to a bachelorette party in Savannah. I was the only mom on the trip, let alone the only pumping mom. I think I scarred my friends for life the first time I hooked my nipples up to the machine in our VRBO kitchen between rounds of margaritas. However, tequila helps conversation flow, and my public pumping led to a great chat about the challenges and benefits of nursing and pumping for my toddlers.
Most recently, the pump came with me to a girl’s weekend in Asheville. I was honestly a little sad that this would be my last trip with the pump, until I remembered how heavy and cumbersome that thing is to schlep around the airport. Not to mention how much longer it takes to get through security with giant equipment in tow!
Last week, I returned the breast pump to the pharmacy in Iowa City, after 26 months together. I kissed it goodbye (yes, really).
Sure, pumping sucks. It is the worst. But this mighty machine is what enabled me, against all odds, to nurse my preemie twins. The only thing that got me through the emotional process of returning it was knowing that it will now help another mom who desperately needs its power and efficiency to feed her babes!