When I was expecting Jabali, I needed a support group. A friend recommended Pregnant Mom Support Group then one day as I was going through the posts; I stumbled into a post asking all those whose EDD is May/June 2015 to drop their numbers so that they can be added into a Whatup group.
‘Brilliant’ I thought to myself. And without wasting more time, 0720 97…3 was dropped.
‘Welcome Lourdes, how many weeks are you? When is your EDD?’ said the ever warm admin called Tancredi (Tan) whose words became the group’s signature welcoming statement.
A slasher here and a tarimbo there left the group with 37 awesome diamonds. Close knit friends who were brought together by social media and equalized by pregnancy and motherhood. We fight, we resolve, we laugh together, cry together and give each other both virtual and real hugsT…it is such a beautiful story that needs to be told in a separate post I promise I will.
Long story short, I came to learn that Sandy is also the admin of the group. Sandy is our big sister. She will answer your distress call at 2am. She cools the temperature when emotions and hormones speedometer is reading ‘very high’. She is a special and strong mother of Twins- Zuri and Zuriel (say aaaw!) Please hold you glasses of champagne and let’s toss as Sandy shares her experience breastfeeding twins. Please enjoy the read!
From the time I found out I was pregnant for the third time, I instinctively tuned my mind to breastfeed exclusively for six months as I had done before with my older children and continue thereafter until when they were at least 2 yrs old. Being a third time mum this sounded easy because I had done it 2 times before. Uncle Google & all the support groups on social media were also a click away.
Come the day for my first ultrasound scan at 8 weeks ahem!!! The sonographer first asked me how many children I had and I said 2. Then she said it casually more of a joke “mama prepare for twins” and I asked her my eyes popping “really?” she answered “we aren’t even started yet.” She asked me again “What would you do if you found out you are carrying more than one baby?” I told her jokingly “who am I to do anything if God saw it fit to double or triple bless me?” She looked at me as this strong & courageous woman, not minding raising more than three children; I wish she knew how inside I was busy telling God to please let it be a singleton lol.
God must have been looking at me smiling saying “huyu mama yuko na jokes” as one of my friends would say. She then dropped the bomb on me this time for real “then prepare for 2 more because I can see two heartbeats” I didn’t know how to react, I just stared at her with mixed emotions our earlier conversation playing in my head. When I found words I asked her if she was sure and she turned the monitoring screen towards me carefully monitoring my facial reactions & voice to try & pick what I was thinking. From the moment I saw the tiny movements of heartbeats on the ultrasound screen I fell even more in love with my soon to be bundles of joy. I finally felt so strong & told myself “with God on my side I can do this” I swore to do anything within my capability to take good care of the pregnancy & soon babies. It took my husband a few days to wrap his head around this and accept that God had indeed given us a double blessing.
Funny thing I had never been anywhere near newborn multiples. I had to learn about raising multiples from scratch. I was lucky to find a group by the name ‘Multiple Blessings’ and the ‘Multiples to Multiples Society’ both founded by the awesome Dr. Elizabeth Wala, who herself is a mother of triplets. Here I found parents and guardians of multiples from twins to quadruples, you name it.
I drew a lot of strength from this group, knowing that I wasn’t alone in this walk. It was the only place where I could get answers to questions only a parent of multiples understood. It is here where I learnt it is possible to exclusively breastfeed multiples for the first six months just as you’d do singletons but with increased dedication and extra work.
I became more determined than ever to exclusively breastfeed because I believed it was doable. The preparations began, I bought almost all the necessary accessories for breastfeeding, from a breast pump to feeding bottles, twin breastfeeding pillow to nursing bras you name it! I also watched, read & asked questions in tandem with nursing on YouTube, web pages & social media support groups for multiple parents.
The day finally came I finally met my munchkins at 38 weeks. They were tiny and delicate, weighing 2.2kgs and 2.4kgs respectively. That weight to multiple parents is a big blessing because the babies will not need to be in the neonatal intensive care unit not unless there are other complications and this also means shortened hospital stay.
I knew breastfeeding was the first sure way to boost their immunity & help them gain weight. I was lucky I had milk trickling within few hours of giving birth. As soon as I was fully awake and completely recovered from anesthesia since I had a cesarean section, my babies were brought for our first meeting. Aaaaaw it felt so beautiful bonding for the first time outside the womb, and what more could we cement the bond with other than breast milk?
At first I found it difficult latching both of them together and maintain a good posture owing to pain on the CS incision. I developed sore nipples but luckily the obstetrician /gynecologist & pediatrician I was under came to my aid. They were both so determined to see me breastfeed and did everything they could to make sure I nursed correctly.
Never in my life had I seen any man teach someone how to nurse because naturally, nursing is a female affair but ah ah! Dr.Odawa did it so well God bless him; Dr. Mirriam Karanja was of great help too. On our second day in hospital the twins were found to have jaundice. They were put under phototherapy treatment and I was encouraged by the pediatrician to breastfeed them more, to increase their bowel movement which helps secrete the buildup of bilirubin. I did this diligently amidst fatigue.
We got discharged from hospital after 7 days and now it was time to face the real world. During the first few days, the babies were constantly hungry and it seemed like all we did all day was breastfeeding and pumping. I couldn’t keep a nursing schedule and this became very frustrating, I was almost going into depression but I am grateful for my husband’s support. I learnt to stop having unrealistic expectations of things because there is no guarantee that whatever I read or experiences shared with me must match 100%. I learnt to eat right and keep myself hydrated, accept whatever amount of help from relatives and friends which in turn allowed me to have more physical and mental rest which is crucial in milk production and live each day at a time.
Though I did not manage to exclusively breastfeed for six months because of health issues we still breastfeed even after weaning. We are 16 months old now and breastfeed on demand.
Double feeding does not necessarily mean double feeding trouble. With the right attitude, determination and sacrifice I believe exclusive breastfeeding of multiples is manageable and achievable.
Thanks Sandy for sharing your story.