I had a lot of dreams and aspirations of how I imagined pregnancy, childbirth, and the first year of life to go…much of which was thrown to the side once I found I was pregnant with quadruplets. Pretty much everything you imagine or dream of is completely blown. I was thrown into a very high risk pregnancy and quickly learned that many things, including a drug-free birth experience, immediate bonding, short hospital stay, and exclusive breastfeeding were not things I would get to have.
I was incredibly disappointed after speaking with many moms of quadruplets to find that breastfeeding would be a next to impossible task. There were very few that breastfed/pumped, even fewer who continued to past their NICU stay. I remember the day my mom bought me a pump- thinking, well maybe I can get a month’s use of that. I also resigned myself to the thought that once the babies were out the NICU, I’d never be able to pump or nurse…
Then my babies came at 31 weeks. I felt helpless. Here were my 3 pound babies, hooked to cords…and within 3 hours of giving birth, in came the Lactation Specialist.
Yes. That I could do. I could do all I could to provide milk for them. Until about 4 months, I was able to provide all breastmilk (with formula only to add calories), then until about 6 months I provided at least 75%, after that, I’ve been able to give 50% breastmilk daily.
There were many days I wanted to stop. Many times I got frustrated. Many tears shed. Many sleepless nights. Many times I was annoyed and got incredibly disappointed in myself. And I continue to push through as I knew I wanted to give the babies as much help as I could.
And today marks 15 months and the beginning of my weaning process.
There are many people I have to thank for this:
My husband: he has put up with my endless hours I’ve had to spend hooked to a pump. Mostly, he’s always been supportive, as he’s known not only was I saving us money, but I was helping the babies. He had to step up at times and take care of poop diapers, crying babies, biting babies, babies that just want to cause a ruckus, so that I could have time to pump. Were not for him, I would not have been able to pump, and especially not for 15 months!
My mom & mother-in-law: for all the times they’ve been over to help and stepped up to take care of the babies while I pumped.
All the nurses & hospital staff: every day, with every amount of milk I would provide, the nurses would make me feel like I was a rockstar. They would praise me and tell me what good I was doing for the babies.
The Lactation Dept: They never let me believe that I COULDN’T breastfeed. When the babies were just 33weeks gestation, they let them begin trying to nurse. They told me daily that I would be able to nurse, that I could provide a majority of their feeds, and that every little ounce helped. They visited me daily while the babies were in the hospital, checking in, giving me praise, encouraging me, answering questions, supplying endless bottles…They were AMAZING!
Paige: the amazing quad mom who convinced me that I COULD provide breastmilk & gave me much encouragement and advice.
All the other moms of higher order multiples who’ve been on the breastfeeding journey: Only you truly know the struggle of breastfeeding/pumping for many while also being a very active mom to multiples…You ladies gave me much hope.
All the other people who’ve encouraged me. I’m a member of Facebook group for breastfeeding mamas. Many of whom are able to exclusively nurse. They never frowned on the fact that I have to use bottles or formula. They encouraged me, gave me supportive feedback, and told me to be proud of what I was doing.
Ardo: for gifting me a pump after learning I was pumping for quadruplets.
Those mommas that donated some of their excess supply: this helped us make it through when I was sick and my supply tanked.
The babies are now 15 months old. We have been slowly adding cow’s milk to their diet and they are tolerating it well. I still have some breastmilk frozen and am slowly weaning. I imagine in the next few weeks, they will be completely off breastmilk…it makes me a little sad. As much as I’ve hated having to pump, I’ve loved the positive benefits it’s had. I look at these 4 very healthy, strong babies, and I know that some part of that is because of what I’ve provided… For that, I am incredibly proud of myself.
To all you mamas out there who want to breastfeed- my support goes to you. My best advice- do not compare your breastfeeding journey to others. I know it’s a hard road. There will be days you cry. Days you might want to give up. Days you wonder just how long you can continue…That choice is yours- Be proud of whatever you provide, for however long you provide! You are a rockstar and your baby (babies) thank you!