Thursday, February 26, 2009

The one thing we can do without help...

There's a lot of things most women have been able to do for centuries. Millennia, actually. Maybe even millions of years. Most women take all those things for granted. They "just happen".

One of those things is conceiving a child. It happens all the time, everywhere in the world. All that's needed is a willing bloke (and aren't they all?) at the right moment, a little hanky panky, and done! So incredibly easy. That's all it takes. For most women.

Not for me. Oh no. For me, years and years of hanky panky just wouldn't do the trick. We needed help. lots of help. Hormones and needles and lab coats and petri-dishes didn't even do the trick at first. Not until that second IVF. That cycle where everything seemed to go wrong right from the start, but that ended up giving us that one thing we had longed for and dreamed of for so long.

Another of those things is staying pregnant. Carrying that baby (or in my case: those babies) to term. So many women manage to do that, without even thinking about it. Without realising what a beautiful miracle it is to be with child for a full 9 months. The way it's supposed to be. Millions of women manage to do it.

Not me. Oh no. My water broke at 7 months. I wasn't ready to have those babies yet. They weren't ready to be born yet. We went to the hospital for help. We needed help to get pregnant, maybe with a little help I could also STAY pregnant? Nope. They tried, but those babies were coming out. Today!

Yet another thing that's so natural, so normal, for so many millions of women: childbirth. So many just go through the motions and end up with an empty belly, a blissfull smile and a pink wriggling baby in their arms. Without help. They just do it.

Not this woman. I tried. And even though my two miracle babies were still too tiny for this big world, they just wouldn't come out. They thought they wanted to. After all, they were the ones that started the whole labour fiasco. They were the ones that poked a hole in one of their sacks and let the water out. They wanted to come out, but at the last moment, they chickened out. And so I needed help. Again.

And when there was suddenly four of us, where first there were just two, we again couldn't do what so many people do without thinking about it. Our children were whisked away to the NICU and we couldn't hold them. We had to ask permission to even touch them. We couldn't feed our children without the help of nurses and IV's and feeding tubes. We needed help. THEY needed help. They needed help breathing, they needed help staying warm, they needed help eating. They needed help LIVING.

That was 14 months ago. And sometimes I still wonder... Two little babies who needed so much help to become, so much help to stick around, so much help to just BE. Two little miracles that would never have entered this world, never have been able to stay here, if it weren't for all these helping hands. How on earth did they ever manage to turn out so complete? So beautiful? So healthy? So PERFECT!?!


Then the moment came in which we finally got to bring them home. After so many years of needing help to become pregnant, and after so many weeks of needing help to touch them, hold them, feed them, they were finally all ours. It was suddenly just the four of us. We could just walk towards them and pick them up if we wanted to. Cuddle them whenever we felt like it. No glass cages, no "May I?", no alarms. No help. For the very first time.

It was heaven. And it was scary. So scary!

But we managed. We cuddled and we carried. We laughed when they were happy and we cried when they felt sad. We got to know them and they got to know us. We changed them and bathed them and fed them. All by ourselves. And I pumped and they drank their bottles. And she slept and he puked and they cried and drank more bottles. And I pumped and they drank and I pumped and they grew. And when we had gotten used to each other, when things were quiet, when it was just the four of us, or just the three of us, we tried. I tried. And he tried. And she tried. And we did!

And then one day I could put the pump away. Because they COULD! He could. And she could. THEY could.

I nursed them. Me. Without help! Here was something I could do by myself. On my own. Finally. We could do it together, the two of us, or even the three of us. Without help! It was something so natural. So normal. And so unexpected. Here was something I alone could do. For my children. Something noone else could do for them. They were mine! I was theirs! We belonged...

I was told it might never happen, told it would never work. Most preemies have difficulties. Some preemies never learn. And twins? That would be too much for me to handle. I wouldn't have enough. They wouldn't drink enough. They wouldn't have the strength. It just would never work. Or so they said. But here they were, nursing, and growing. My two miracle babies!

They shouldn't have been here. They shouldn't have lived. But they are, they do.

Is that why it's hard to let it go? Why I keep nursing them even though people are starting to look at me in a funny way? Even though people start pointing fingers, asking questions? Even though sometimes even my husband, their father, thinks they've had enough? They are getting too big. They could do without. It's just not right.

This one thing that I have been able to do for them without help, this one thing that truly made me feel like we belonged together, like all was well. This one thing that is so natural, so the way it should be. How could I just stop that?

It's a fine line between doing something for your children, and doing it for yourself. I know that. I know there will come a day when they really won't need it anymore. When they might not want it anymore. A day when they will go without.

It won't be long before that day arrives. Just a couple more months, maybe. Time flies by so quickly. Children grow up so fast.

But for now, please let me enjoy those quiet moments we have together. Those moments when it's just the two of us. Or sometimes the three of us. Those times in the middle of the night when the whole world is asleep. Or those moments during the day when life just overwhelms them, when the world suddenly seems too big for them to handle and they just need to be with me. Not with anyone else. Not with nurses or doctors but with me. Just me...

Please let me treasure those moments a little longer. The world is so big, and they are still so small. For all their 14 months, they are still babies. Let me hold them and nurse them and treasure them. Untill my whole heart is filled with it. With them. With love. Let those precious moments take my fears away, let it take those bad memories away, let it leave just us. The way it should be. The way it IS.

Don't point fingers, don't whisper bad words, don't judge. Know it helps them grow. Know it helps us heal. And know it won't last forever. It might only be a few more months, a few more weeks even.

For the short time it will still last, just let us be. You don't have to look away like it's something bad. Something sickening. Something not quite right. You don't have to think I'm weird. You don't have to think at all.

Just look at us, and smile...


  1. Well, that made me cry.

    It's so HARD when you can't do things "normally" or "right". When all those things other people take for granted are denied to you, over and over again.

    I'm so glad you got to nurse them, to give that to them.

  2. What a beautifully written post. Thank you! It's so hard to have to ask permission to touch your child. To know others get so easily (and take for granted) what you worked so hard for. Cherish these moments.


  3. This post was stunningly beautiful. Really, it was just perfect.

  4. Oh how beautiful! That picture gave me the chills. You're doing an AMAMZING job! Cherish it, love it, and if anyone says or looks at you funny, just send em MY way. I'll deal with em so you can enjoy your beautiful children.

  5. What a beautiful post and picture: Thank for your sharing it.


  6. This post made me cry, too. It brings back so many emotions so my own NICU days, wanting to do something for my babies and not being able to, of pumping so many times a day for so little, and of my body finally deciding it would give no more at only 4 weeks post delivery.

    "Let those precious moments take my fears away, let it take those bad memories away, let it leave just us." -- a line that takes my breath away. I am so glad that nursing your amazing babies helps you with the pain. Thank you for such a beautifully written post!

  7. Thank you for a beautiful post. It made me cry.

  8. Such beautiful words and so very true.

    Gorgeous picture.

    Well done to you all.You rock and you are doing something wonderful for them.

    I am still nursing my boys who are now 32 months old. One of my twins didn't start to BF till 5 months old either.I pumped full time for him and he didn't have to have formula. Not that I against it , it just wasn't needed.Then one day he got it after months of EBM from a bottle.

    I don't care what anyone says they are still my babies.

    Sure the time will come for us soon .I hope for you and your babies it is a mutually convenient time.

    Don't ever listen to 'them' ... when people ask when are you going to stop to stop say ...
    "I thought I (we) might go for the record." Let their jaws drop !!

    I got this idea after my Father in law said when my boys were one ..."don't try to break any records'.
    I can show you several other twin blogs who still breastfeed at 2yrs ...

    I have a few online friends and in real life who breastfeed single babies till almost 4 and even at 4 1/2. Not crazy earth mothers but mums just like you and I.

    The world health organisation says to 2 and beyond if it suits you , 4 yrs is the 'average'

    Just for the record I am hoping my boys decide to wean around 3yrs ;) ...but who knows.

  9. What a stunningly beautiful post. It is only eclipsed by the picture that accompanies it. If it makes you feel better, I nursed my oldest until 18 months and my 2nd and 3rd (post infertility) babies until almost 2 years old.

  10. This post moved me to tears - such a beautiful statement of the connection between you and your babies, and how healing it is to have something that belongs to just the three of you.

    I have no qualms whatsoever about extended breastfeeding - my youngest sister even faintly remembers having a conversation with our mom about weaning. I think she was about 4 at the time. I know it is such a powerful connection and I'm so glad you are enjoying it so much.

    Know that I am smiling at you, wherever you are, cheering you on as you do what feels right for all of you. If I saw you nursing at the mall, you might catch me giving you a lingering glance, but it would be with a smile and the deep longing that I get to experience that connection someday soon, and with no judgment or weirdness at all!

  11. Here from the Roundup...

    Beautiful post, and stunning photo. Thank you for sharing so much emotion with us.

  12. What a beautiful post. A lot of it rang true with me. Struggled for 4 years to conceive and then my DS was born at 31 weeks - failed again. Unfortunately, I was never able to nurse him (another failure) but if I had, I can imagine I would feel the same as you do. They are still babies and you are providing them with way more than milk. Good job.

  13. I totally understand. I'm still just pumping (I need to know how much my daughter is drinking -- she's not a great eater) but I hold her all the time, as much as I can. And I know it's not teaching her to self-soothe and blah blah blah but I want to do it, and it makes me feel closer to her, and I feel like it makes up for some of her time alone in the NICU. Do it as long as you want -- you'll know when it's time to stop.

  14. I love the picture of you tandem nursing twin toddlers! That's awesome. You asked on my blog any advice on weaning... I currently have no plans on weaning but from my BF mommy group I know they talk about dropping one feed at a time and trying to distract them when they want to nurse with another activity or food. Hope that helps.