Dear Ten Years Ago Me…
Some people might try to tell you that being stubborn is a bad thing, but don’t listen to them.
Being stubborn, right now, as you sit in hospital wondering when your twins will be born, is the best possible thing you can be, for your babies and for yourself.
Being stubborn helped you cope when you found out you were having twins. It was your cocoon when you went into premature labour at 25 weeks and discovered you had severe Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. It was your shield when they told you there was about a 10% chance of both babies making it. And it will be what keeps your head above water when, a week from now, your babies (they are girls by the way) are born at 29 weeks gestation.
It is also stubbornness that will make you fight to breastfeed your babies.
I’m not saying it will be easy. It won’t be. There will be many days when no amount of stubbornness will stop the tears and frustration… but it will stop you giving up.
You will not give up when just hours after your babies are born a nurse will attempt to squeeze colostrum from your confused boobs. It will be painful, embarrassing, and it won’t work, but you won’t give up.
In the days that follow at least 30 different people will paw at your boobs, desperately trying to elicit those few precious drops of thick yellowish milk that you know your babies need. On the morning that you walk down to NICU with that tiny syringe of colostrum you will feel like you have climbed Mount Everest – tired, sore, but elated.
You will not give up when hand expressing produces next to nothing and your milk won’t come in.
You’ll take ‘the mean green milking machine’ home from hospital and you will express every three hours to try and create some semblance of a milk supply. You will take carefully labeled little jars of milk into the hospital each morning, amazed at your ability to make milk.
You will not give up when your meager supply of breast milk can no longer meet the baby’s needs.
You will cry a few tears but you will give them formula and celebrate the fact that they are growing stronger and tolerating bigger milk feeds, a tiny first step towards coming home. And then you will head back to ‘the milking sheds’ – the tiny cubicles along the hallway in the NICU – to double pump every two hours when you can, trying desperately to increase your supply.
You will not give up when the girls are finally shifted to the special care nursery but they show absolutely no signs of wanting to suck.
You will find a lovely nurse who will take out their feeding tubes to encourage them to suck, and who will spend time with you trying to get the babies to latch and suck. Your pediatrician will teach you how to bottle feed a breastfeed baby and will tear strips off any nurse that doesn’t do it correctly.
You will not give up when a nurse yells across the nursery that you have ‘disabled nipples’ and throws some nipple shields at you.
You will go home and cry later, but you will use those bloody shields on your flat nipples and Izzy will have her first decent breastfeed. You will go home walking on air.
You will not give up when you take two tiny 10 week old babies home from hospital who would still rather sleep than eat.
You will alternate breast and bottle feeding, with whatever EBM you have, making up the difference with formula. You will express after each feed, cutting holes in an old bra so you can double pump hands free while playing computer games to escape reality for a little while.
You will not give up when the girls wake up and begin to cry and cry and never stop. You will also not give up when they begin chucking after every feed, and are diagnosed with reflux.
You will keep breastfeeding, and topping them up with a bottle, even though people tell you that is the worst thing you can do if you want to breastfeed. You will keep expressing, and you will eat fenugreek and oats by the bucket full and drink so much water that you spend as much time peeing as you do expressing and take medication, anything to increase your supply.
You will not give up when the babies begin to loose weight, or when their vomit is tinged with pink, or when they refuse to breastfeed and are diagnosed with failure to thrive.
You will cry many many many tears and you will be turned away from the hospital breastfeeding clinic because your babies are ‘too old’ and you will see a terrible lactation consultant who will ask you why you are bothering… and that will make you even more determined to continue.
You will not give up on your babies or on breastfeeding or on yourself.
You can not give up now because you will realise, slowly, that you have some bonding issues that are held together with the threads of breastfeeding your babies. So you will be stubborn, and you will fight, and you will seek out people who can and will help you and things will get better, much, much better.
Breastfeeding will not be how you planned, or even how you imagined it. It will not be how it looks on TV or in ABA pamphlets, or even how it is for other people you know. It will be hard and awesome and horrible and amazing, and you will do it ‘all wrong’ and then realise there is no such thing as wrong.
And one day, ten years and four children later.. you will be proud of how stubborn you were.
Love A much older and wiser, but still stubborn me.
Ten years ago today I was 28 weeks pregnant with twins, and on bed rest due to Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. A week later my girls would be born, 11 weeks early, tiny, but alive. There were many things about having premature twins that surprised me, not least of which was how hard I would fight to breastfeed them.
I’m sharing my story as part of the ‘Dear Me’ series to promote the new Online Breastfeeding Cafe, a new initiative of the Australian Breastfeeding Association. The Breastfeeding Cafe aims to encourage people to learn, share and chat about breastfeeding via a supportive online forum and web page and active facebook community. Pop on over and join in the conversation.
Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:
So hard to truly grasp 10 years has past! Imagine knowing back then that making your way through that struggle would be something you “have” for the rest of your life. I don’t know if it would help or not, maybe it would distract from the single minded determination required. Love the baby photos :)
Amanda Kendle says
Beautiful post Kate. And good on you. And I still can’t believe your girls are turning 10.
Stubborn is definitely a good thing, and I try to remember that every time my son is showing the same stubbornness both his father and I have. Later on, it’ll be a good thing. (When he’s 3 and we’re his parents, not so good.)
Thank you. Breastfeeding was the hardest thing I have had to learn & teach my baby at the same time.
I was stubborn as well, expressed for 2 months with my 1 st then went on to breastfeeding successfully for 2 yrs.
Breastfeeding my second was easier for me at the start but he still had to learn.
Getting ready to do it a 3 rd time hoping it all goes to plan.
Amazing, gorgeous, inspiring tale… I have even more admiration for you! Thanks for sharing.
When I read your story I see so much courage in your words. You should be so proud of your stubbornness. I am past the breastfeeding days but your story inspires me to be more stubborn and courageous.
Well done to you Magnificent Stubborn One and all my love nad admiration to your wonderful, caring and wise past and present you !
You fought and did not give up, tears and anxiety were countered by sound action ! Yes !
Thank you for sharing your breastfeeding story. You made me cry.
Dear You….amazing and most stubborn person who wrote this story which is incredible in its outcome and journey. My goodness me, Kate Pickle…never, ever think you are not doing anything right with your kids on “those days” you are amazing! Wonderful & so pleased to read about these clever & different daughters of yours. Champion! D x
Reading your story reminded me of the problems my daughter went thru with her first-born. Troubles latching properly and a baby that didn’t want to suck….all making your heart ache for them both and wanting to step in and “fix it” for her. She too was stubborn, and even tho sometimes that is hard to handle (as her mom), other times it makes me proud of her and I know that without that trait she wouldn’t be the determined, capable, strong, loving woman she is today. She has had to fight for everything she’s ever wanted and is having problems now with her second pregnancy. Her stubborn attitude is pulling her through the misery and I know both the baby and she will be fine. My heart hurts for what you went thru, but it seems all has worked out well for you too. Don’t ever let anybody convince you that “being stubborn” is something negative. It’s one of the best qualities you’ll ever have. Hang onto it with both hands and it will see you thru many of life’s ails. Blessings to you and your children. They are beautiful and lucky to have a mom like you!
Linda @M&As World says
Well done you ! And now you have 2 beautiful girls to show for that stubbornness!!
meri cherry says
wow, thank you for sharing your beautiful and empowering story. motherhood is so hard and so rewarding and we all deserve medals because WE DO NOT GIVE UP. xo
What an amazing story!
You are an inspiring mum, thanks for sharing! :-)
You had me in tears so many times throughout that Kate. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult (and frightening) this time was for you. Your little babies but look at them now! What a wonderful mum you are Kate, never forget that. Thank you for sharing this incredible post.