You’ll hear me say a lot, “one of the first things that went through my head when I found out we were having triplets was…” followed by something like this:
– “we’ll have to get a minivan.”
– “I guess I’ll have to have a c-section.”
– “where are we going to put them all?”
Let’s face it. A lot of thoughts went through my mind in those few seconds (not all fit for a family-friendly blog post.) But one of the biggest was, “how am I going to breastfeed three babies?” When you have newborn triplets, you can just see people doing the math in their heads. Three babies, two breasts. Of course, it is possible, but early on I realized that I was going to have to let go of any expectations I had of the babies’ early months.
So I spent my pregnancy hoping that I’d be able to give them breastmilk, at the very least. Try to breastfeed them? Possibly, but the logistics were kind of mind-boggling. I had no idea how early they would be born, if they’d be big enough to even try at first. I really just put it to the back of my head. We’d play it by ear.
And so when the boys were born at 33 weeks, 2 days, they earned a stay in the NICU. I spent part of that first hazy day with a hospital-grade pump attached to me, and for the next few days as well. Not much happened. The lactation consultants in the hospital worked with me, but still…not much happened.
Fortunately, the boys were thriving. Bottles full of formula (and maybe a tiny drop of colostrum) were started when they were just a couple of days old, and they took them like champs. We were incredibly lucky that they never had to be fed through a tube. Those boys were naturals…at bottle feeding. We tried breastfeeding a few times, but frankly, I had neither the time nor the energy to keep trying.
But I continued to pump. All day, all night. I pumped for eight weeks. And the most milk I ever got was enough to give each baby one bottle of breastmilk a day. And then as their needs grew, a half. But they were thriving on formula, and I was exhausted. I had three babies that I was taking care of by myself while my husband was at work. I was due to go back to work in a few weeks. So I happily, and without any sadness, threw in the towel. Sent back that beast of a pump to where it came from and never looked back.
I get that how you feed your child is emotional. I may not have stressed over how my tiny babies ate, but my five year olds have more than made up for it. I’ve spent hours soaking in the wisdom of Ellen Satter, and yet the ingestion of vegetables by a child of mine continues to be as mythical as a unicorn.