# Mom Math

1 + 2 = fighting

You are exhausted and the kids are wild. Subtract the pain of getting them into the car from the total number of wiggles to get out.

A friend reports the pukes at her house. Count backward to the last time you saw them. Devise a theorem to prove you are not in danger.

Your own kids get the pukes. Add up all the things you are going to miss for the next seven days.

Amount of fun at the bounce house divided by the germ potential equals whether or not you go.

Child is teetering off the deck railing. Count the number of steps to reach him and divide it by the milliseconds left until he is in free-fall.

You get a headache. Base your medication choice on how many hours until your husband comes home.

One twin is falling off the slide while one twin is running into the parking lot. Quick! Who is most at risk?

You have ___ minutes until someone cries. List the things that you have to do and then prioritize them. Start with number one. Calculate if you will make it to number two.

Your toddler’s whines are growing into sobs. Calculate number of feet to the nearest exit. Will you make it there before sobs turn into wails?

Two 3-year-olds does not equal one 2-year-old plus one 4-year-old.

It is unseasonably warm outside. Your kids are tired and grouchy. Weigh the importance of exercise versus the importance of nap and decide which has more value. Show your work.

You see your child lick the arm of the chair in the doctor’s waiting room. Devise a hypothesis about your prediction of illness onset.

Your baby just woke up from nap/finished nursing. It is time to leave. How many minutes until a poop blowout?

Your baby just woke up from nap/finished nursing. It is time to leave. How many hours do you have until you have to be back home again?

Children are begging for snacks. Multiply how much they didn’t eat at lunch by the number of minutes until dinner.

Subtract the kids’ bedtime from your bedtime. The total number of hours between their bedtime and your bedtime is The Golden Ratio.

Does your need for Netflix outweigh your need for more sleep? By how much?

One twin is sick. If you infect the other twin on purpose right away, you will only have to miss three days of work instead of five.

Use the Richter Scale to determine how much stress one more child will add to your family.

Subtract your current age from your best guess of your onset of menopause age. Take that number and shove it deep into the bins of baby clothes you refuse to get rid of.

# That Time I Left My Nursing Twin Babies Too Soon and Sounded Like a Maniac

When the twins were six months old, I left them overnight for the first time. I was still nursing, and still only sleeping 1-2 hours a night. Needless to say, it was too soon.

My husband had already left the twins for his business trips, and, of course, every single day when he went to work, and, well, every weeknight too (because I had night duty when he had to get up at 4:30 AM for work every day). He had also almost lost me in childbirth – and had somewhat lost me to the omnipotent needs of three children in diapers – so it was understandable that he was ready to arrange a night away. I was actually somewhat excited, too.

I left the children in the care of my extremely capable, loving, and willing in-laws. Even the best possible in-law care could not overcome my deliriously sleep-deprived, hormonal nursing self. I didn’t expect that handing the babies over would trigger a whole landslide of feelings about the near-death experiences that Twin B and I shared during the birth. Leaving those babies felt like death to my addled brain.

As I tried to force my arms to hand Twin B to my tender and devoted mother-in-law, I began to weep. As we separated, my weeps turned into sobs and I cried out,

“HE LIKES IT WHEN YOU BREATHE ON HIS HEAD!”

He likes it when you breathe on his head? Umm, well… okay.

Hear me out. He’s a twin. He’s used to constant contact, you know? And he is just a wild man who needs a lot of physical input to settle down. To a person without children, that all might sound ridiculous. But, my sweet mother-in-law nodded with understanding. Mother to mother, she knew I wasn’t crazy.

And I knew she would breathe on his head.

He’s three now. Thriving. He still needs a ton of sensory input. He likes back scratches, firm foot squeezes, shoulder rubs, idle strokes, “belly pets”, being thrown in the air, being smooshed, being rolled, going fast, being upside down, a heavy hand on his back in bed, and head-butting. An adult hand on his thigh during dinner even makes him eat more food. Basically, he likes every kind of touch that his brothers don’t.

And, yes, he still likes it when I breathe on his head.

During the day, he is so wild, I can’t believe he has not yet experienced grievous bodily harm (other than a black eye every so often). He drives me crazy and gives me heart palpitations. But, but… in the rocking chair in the middle of the night, he nuzzles into my bony shoulders and sighs. I breathe in his baby-fine scent that has never left. I exhale my breath into his hair. My inhales calm me down; my exhales calm him down. We both win.

I’m not a maniac. I’m a mom.

# “My Twins Sucked at Breastfeeding” was posted on the Scary Mommy Blog…

…and I have a few things to say about that.

I wrote a post for Scary Mommy about breastfeeding multiples, and they posted it last week on their home page. It has over 11,000 shares on facebook right now. I think I might have had my fifteen minutes of fame. But it’s over now. (I have been tracking my stats. Thousands of views and shares does NOT actually produce more followers or likes. The internet has a short attention span.)

I originally titled it, “My Twins Sucked at Breastfeeding”, which I thought was way more clever and accurate than the title they gave: “The Truth about Breastfeeding Twins”. I was criticized in the comments for generalizing and discouraging other twin moms, but I was simply trying to tell MY story. I think the title change is a little to blame – I was not telling anyone else’s “truth” about breastfeeding. I was only telling MY truth, hence the “my” in “My Twins Sucked at Breastfeeding.”

Most of the comments were extremely kind and loving. However, a handful said that breastfeeding twins was “easy”, and I want to kick them in the head. Annnnnd there was one woman who said, “Lots and lots and lots of women experience complications pre, during and post pregnancy. You aren’t a martyr. You aren’t the first woman to have twins. Get over yourself.” Hmmm. I think if she read my blog, she would know that I have already said the exact same thing myself. Many times. Also, I would like to challenge her to say that to my face. Ah, the internet.

To Scary Mommy, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to write for you, but chastise you for your typos. Come on, Scary Mommy, you have over half a million followers. I think you could be a little more careful (less scary?) with your editing.

To any of the new twin moms that I scared, I apologize.

Here’s my original text:

My Twins Sucked at Breastfeeding

Was it me or was it the twins who did the sucking at breastfeeding? Maybe both. After surviving one adoption, several miscarriages, fifteen rounds of fertility treatment, hellish high-risk twin pregnancy, bedrest with a toddler, and almost dying from postpartum hemorrhage, I certainly knew better than to expect breastfeeding would go smoothly. It sucked, both literally and figuratively.

I read every book I was supposed to read on the topic of breastfeeding twins. I underlined so many sections of my La Leche League multiples book that my husband asked me if perhaps I should consider underlining only things I didn’t want to remember. I tried to be prepared simply by adding post-it notes of information in my brain, but I knew I would have to wing it when the twins arrived.

I couldn’t have been more right. Who would win when this twin momma faced off against all the books she read?

The books say: Breastfeed immediately after birth, or within 60 minutes after a C-section. That should be enough time to get you all stitched up and ready to go.

Twin mom says: Breastfeeding is impossible in the ICU while you’re knocked out.

Winner: Nobody.

The books say: Frequent breastfeeding will teach your body to double or triple the amount of milk you need for multiples.

Twin mom says: Almost dying and getting blood transfusions messes with the body’s ability to produce milk.

Winner: Nobody.

The books say: Feed each twin separately at first, to teach proper latching techniques. Tandem nursing can wait.

Twin mom says: No problem. Tandem nursing can definitely wait.

Winner: Books.

The books say: Avoid bottles and pacifiers during the hospital stay to establish proper nursing.

Twin mom says: You don’t have a say when you’re knocked out in the ICU.

Winner: Nobody.

The books say: When you begin to tandem feed, the double-football hold will work the best.

Twin mom says: WHATEVER. You totally need substantial boobage to pull off the double-football hold, because you’ve got to have boobs that actually flop around. Not all of us are so endowed, even with the milk! Why didn’t any book talk about THAT?!

Winner: Nobody. Certainly not my boobs.

The books say: Your milk will come in within three to four days after birth.

Twin mom says: Be a rebel! Mine didn’t come in until the eleventh day after birth, which was the latest my lactation consultant had ever seen.

Winner: Twin Mom!

The books say: The best way to help a baby learn to nurse is skin-to-skin contact.

Twin mom says: It’s hard to do when I was so bruised, battered, and patched up from all the ways they saved my life. I wanted nothing more than to put my babies inside my hospital gown, but I was too mutilated from all the procedures they performed on me. I came home from the hospital with a walker, a lot of bandages and bruises, and a physical therapist.

Winner: Nobody. Certainly not my babies.

The books say: Within the first two weeks after birthing twins, be sure to pump and/or feed every 2-3 hours to teach your body to establish and double the milk supply.

Twin mom says: No problem. I will never sleep again anyway. I will never not be holding a baby again anyway.

Winner: The books.

The books say: Rent a hospital grade pump for multiples. You need a pro to suck out enough milk for twins.

Twin mom says: NOBODY TOLD ME HOW MUCH PUMPING SUCKS (literally and figuratively)! I had no idea how bad it would feel and how much I would hate it. I had no idea how long it would take. I had no idea how much my toddler would misbehave when he knew I was attached to those tubes and completely immobilized.

Winner: My toddler.

The books say: Tandem breastfeeding is harder with fraternal twins than identical twins, because they only share 50% of their DNA. They will have different hunger cues, feeding patterns, and body clocks.

Twin mom says: Ain’t that the truth. My fraternal twins were opposites in the womb, and they were opposites while breastfeeding. One was a pro; the other had feeding difficulties – including allergies, reflux, and nipple confusion.

Winner: The books. Or maybe the one twin who was good at nursing.

The books say: Tandem breastfeeding is the best choice for twins.

Twin mom says: Um, nobody told me how MUCH I WOULD HATE TANDEM NURSING. It was almost impossible to position the babies even with another adult present. How do I get the second baby latched on after I already had one attached to my boob? (When I was alone, I would try to position the second baby on the couch beside me, and hoist him up by his jammies with my one free arm. If he was wearing snap jammies, he would fall out of them. I quickly switched to zip-up jammies.) Nursing two at once felt overwhelming and, I hate to say, a little creepy. They finished eating at different times, so what was I supposed to do when one baby had to burp and one was still attached? And how do I care for a needy two-year-old while I am completely immobilized by two nursing babies? What do I do when the toddler gets into the knife drawer? Do I pull the babies off or do I try to stand up with two of them attached? I guarantee I would either fall down or lose the latch. What about my (adopted) son’s jealousy while I was nursing both babies? I had to deal with some major adoptive momma guilt there. I did not have the answers to these questions. I gave up and nursed them separately.

Winner: Nobody.

The books say: Alternating bottle-feeding and breast-feeding is not recommended. It creates more work, and less milk production.

Twin mom says: Too bad. I never made enough milk, despite every effort. We finally established a system where I would breastfeed one twin, supported by a Boppy and one of my arms, while, with my other arm, I bottle-fed the other twin, supported beside me on the couch with a Boppy. This also enabled me to leap off the couch, if needed, to help my toddler not die.

Winner: Twin mom! And my toddler.

The books say: Breastfeed for at least a year.

Twin mom says: My goal was one day at a time. I made it to just under seven months. I figured that counted as a year in my Twin World! By that time, I was about to crack from having 1-2 hours of sleep from my non-synchronized, non-tandem night feedings. Also, my poor-at-nursing-twin was completely off the breast and only drinking pumped milk anyway. It was time to sleep-train them. I couldn’t let them “cry it out” while nursing. We dried it up, cried it out, and started sleeping. (PS, The last time I breastfed my last twin, I was listening to “The Last Time” by The Rolling Stones: “Well this could be the last time, This could be the last time, Maybe the last time, I don’t know, oh no, oh no.”)

Winner: Twin Mom! I did what was best for MY FAMILY! (“My family”, of course, refers to me not cracking.)

The books say: Any amount of breastmilk is good for the babies.

Twin mom says: Ain’t that the truth. I never made enough milk for twins, despite visiting several lactation consultants, pumping with a hospital grade pump, reading every book, and trying every home remedy. I had to supplement with formula from the very beginning. I was happy to give them immunities, even if I couldn’t make them full.

Winner: Everybody.

The moral of this story is that books are great, but twin mommas are better!

# My Kids Eating Lunch Under a Blanket in Honor of National Breastfeeding Month

I’m not shy about the fact that, uh, my relationship with breastfeeding was, uh, complicated. Adoption. High-risk twin pregnancy resulting in near-death. ICU and NICU stays. Tandem twin feeding. Everything about me and breastfeeding is complicated. However, there is nothing complicated about THIS. I’m still happy that it’s National Breastfeeding Month and I honor it with this photo.

In honor of National Breastfeeding month, I made my kids eat their lunch under a blanket just like the old days of when they were infants. It turns out it isn’t the ideal way to eat. Who knew?

Other posts on breastfeeding that you might enjoy:

A Dad’s Thoughts During National Breastfeeding Month

Reaction to the Time’s Breastfeeding Cover

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# Why I Hate My La Leche League Group… And Why I Stay

(what I wished breastfeeding looked like every day)

I joined a La Leche League for Multiples support group when I was pregnant with my twins. I hate it. And yet I continue to stay. Why? I stay because I seem to be the only one who says, “Don’t worry. Just do what works for you and your family!” to the poor new moms who are consumed with worry and guilt and stress. The rest of the members seem to piledrive them into ground with the “Crying-It-Out Makes You the Devil” and “Not-Tandem-Nursing Makes you a Terrorist”.

Breastfeeding can have some weird challenges. My mom says, “I don’t know what the big deal is. You stick them on the boob and they eat.” But there are a thousand things that complicate nursing – latching problems, NICU stays, tongue-ties, engorgement, mastitis, plugged ducts, low milk production. In my case, what happened to get in the way of nursing was almost dying. I needed two blood transfusions , which messed with my pituitary glands, and, therefore, my milk production.  My milk finally came in on the tenth or eleventh day, which is later than any lactation consultant ever heard. To complicate matters, I was sedated in the ICU for the first 48 hours after the birth and had one baby in the NICU. I spent a week total in the hospital, and was mostly unable to care for my babies during that time. (You can read more about my birth story here.)

Multiples further complicate the breastfeeding. How do you feed two babies at once? How do you make enough milk for two? How do you physically maneuver in the middle of the night alone? I read a lot of books about all that during my pregnancy and kind of just adopted a wait-and-see approach. I joined an online La Leche League for Multiples support group, to get ideas and friends in place before I had any problems.

If I had given birth in my twenties, I might have been one of these LLL know-it-alls. I saw the world as a little more black and white back then. I assumed I would get pregnant when I wanted and nurse how I wanted. Ha! I had a more one-size-fits-all approach to the world. Now that I am well into my thirties, and have made God laugh with all my plans, I know that everyone deals with problems we can’t see. I would never assume that I can predict my future or my reaction to problems in my future. I especially would never assume that I know what is best for another nursing mother and her family.

So where the heck do these LLL members get off?!

I would like to point out that I am not including the leaders of the LLL in my rant. The leaders – professional lactation consultants – have all been well-trained and reasonable. They have supported any of my questions, problems, and solutions. I am specifically complaining about when a member posts a question for the group and the members all leap on top of her.

I absolutely, 100%, completely, wholly, wholeheartedly HATED tandem nursing. I most certainly had to supplement my twins’ breastmilk with formula. I most certainly had to give them bottles. I most certainly had them cry-it-out when the twins were ready – and when I was about to stab someone with a fork or get really really sick from not sleeping. (Apparently, two or three hours of sleep for seven months was my limit.) I most certainly was happy to stop nursing at seven months. I had a challenging (and sometimes very sad) two-year-old who seemed to know instinctively that breastfeeding was more intimate than bottles – and hated it. I also dealt with the sorrow of not nursing him, since he came to me through adoption.

All of these things, apparently, have made me a complete rebel in my LLL group. However, I have NO GUILT for feeling or doing any of these things. (Thank goodness for my church sisters and my friends!) Only me and Mr. Okayest know what is best for our family.

Today, a worried mom posted on my LLL group that her pediatrician, who is also a twin mom, suggested that she stop feeding her 6-month-old twins in the middle of the night. Although she said she loved the idea of more sleep, she was unsure of what to do. Many members immediately posted things about  how crying-it-out should never, ever, be done under any circumstances and that it raises babies’ cortisol levels. First of all, these women are not doctors. They are just moms! How dare they contradict a doctor before they have all the facts? Second of all, this mom was truly hurting and struggling with her decision, and, if she were to choose to cry-it-out, now she would have more guilt piled on top of her guilt. I simply added to the commotion that we cried it out, it worked for us, and to just do what works for her and her family.

A few day ago, a worried mom asked the LLL group what she could do to increase her supply. She was exclusively pumping, not putting the babies to breast, because her babies had had an extended NICU stay. The members immediately criticized her for not putting the babies to the breast because, in their opinion, it was the only way to increase your milk. She eventually replied to all the comments that people might look down on her because she is a nurse and has to pump to get through her 12-hour shifts at work. How horrible is that?! A new mom is already struggling with the guilt of pumping, babies in the NICU, low milk production, and going back to work – and these women made it worse! She was apologizing for having to pump! WTHeck?! I chimed in to say that taking fenugreek worked for me, and that no one should ever make her feel badly about her decisions and that she should do what is right for her and her family.

I could go on and on with stories like this. Mr. Okayest is used to saying, “Why don’t you just leave that group?” after every time I exclaim with frustration at the comments. It’s because someone has to tell a mom to just do what is right for her and her family.

Dang.

(what breastfeeding really looked like every day)