It’s kind of misleading to say I “breastfed triplets for 1 year” so I’ll clarify somewhat. I have triplets. I breastfed/pumped for 1 year. Some people truly breastfeed triplets for 1 year. Exclusively. I wasn’t one of those moms. I did breastfeed and/or pump for 1 year. ONE WHOLE YEAR! Actually 13 months. It didn’t go as I planned. At all. But I did it. I did it my own way. And it worked for me. Maybe my way wasn’t the “right way” but it was the right way for me. And I’m pretty dang proud of myself (I never use that word btw. I censored myself. You’re welcome).
Breastfeeding was very personal for me. I never nursed in public (well except in the NICU but nothing is very private in the NICU. And even then I stayed hidden as much as possible). I also didn’t take pictures. That just seems so strange to me. So NO PICTURES. If you were worried you might see my boobs, this is not going to happen. At least not today.
So many people assume you can’t do it 100% for 3 so why try. I can’t even count the number of times someone said “oh triplets, you must not be breastfeeding.” So how did I do it? Well I struggled. A lot. And I used formula. A lot. But I pumped, nursed, and provided breast milk in some way for a whole year. I did it my own way. And once I realized I didn’t have to do it all, I didn’t have to be perfect, I really enjoyed it. So that’s why I’m sharing I guess. I hesitated to write this because it’s way outside my comfort zone. (I actually started writing this over 2 weeks ago, almost deleted the whole thing a few times, and just now got around to finishing). Maybe someone else is struggling to do it all. Maybe I can help. Maybe I just like to talk about myself (yep I know it).
Unlike most new moms, I wasn’t able to nurse my babies from the moment they were born. I didn’t even hold any of the babies for the first time until I held James on Day 8. I held Logan on Day 9 then not again until he was 6 weeks old. I didn’t hold Mason for the first time until he was 4 weeks old. Needless to say the first few months I felt completely helpless. I was scared to even touch my babies. The only thing within my power (or so I thought) was providing breast milk. So I pumped. And pumped. And pumped. Every 3 hours 24 hours a day. It was awful. I hated every minute of it. And I sucked at it. Like really sucked at it. I had low supply due to the boys coming so early. I was able to keep up with the boys’ needs until right around their due date, when they were 3 months old. Then we used donor milk through the NICU for a few weeks. Then we started supplementing with formula. I never was able to keep up again. I tried everything to increase my supply – fenugreek, more milk plus, lactation cookies. The supplements helped a little. The cookies not so much.
Mason and Logan both started nursing when they were around 3 months old. We had to wait until their oxygen requirement was low enough before we could even try. I had the most amazing lactation specialists who really supported me and helped us learn. Logan caught on quickly and never looked back. Mason struggled a little more. Mostly because he either wouldn’t try or he would go to sleep. But he got it eventually. When they finally came home last August, I nursed them each twice a day. That’s all we were allowed to do. They needed more calories than straight breast milk contains. So I pumped. And they got formula too. We eventually went down to once a day each. Then I stopped nursing Mason around 12 months and Logan right at 13 months.
My actual breastfeeding experience was way different than my friends who nursed one baby at a time. My boys didn’t need me. They didn’t even seem to care most of the time. In fact, towards the end it turned into a game – how long can Logan NOT nurse before he finally gives in. Fun game. For Logan.
So in the spirit of full disclosure, I think breastfeeding triplets is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done (or attempted I guess). I cried more over this than anything else. I knew it was important but I felt like I missed so much when I had to pump. I had really sick tiny babies. And every 3 hours I had to get up from their bedside (or my own bed) to pump. I saw all of these other moms in the NICU bringing so much milk out of that pumping room and I had barely anything. And I had 3 babies. And I had missed rounds. But I kept on. And I’m so glad.
Speaking of pumping – worst thing ever. If I could light the breast pump on fire I would totally do it. I hate that thing. And all of the parts that come with it. Now I didn’t nurse in public but I did pump in weird places. I cut holes in most of my undershirts so I could pump hands free. I pumped at work, in my office with a window to the inside of the office, while driving, and lots of other places. It usually went better if I could multitask. I actually stopped pumping around December and my life got so much easier.
Now that I’m done I miss it. The nursing. Obviously NOT the pumping. I wish my experience had been more like the typical breastfeeding experience. You know the one where the babies need their mommy and have a hard time weaning. Because they need their mommy. But honestly I’m just glad I did it.
Here’s what Logan typically did when it was breastfeeding time. Not so cooperative.