About 15 months ago, I gave birth to two beautiful and very little girls. They arrived five weeks early by C-section due to worsening preeclampsia, and I knew they might have to spend several weeks in the NICU. With the assistance of a nurse and my husband wheeling me down to the NICU from my recovery room like clockwork, I was able to start nursing them within hours of their birth. They were little, but they latched without a hitch. My mantra became: Small but mighty!
Those first 24 hours were hard. Recovering from abdominal surgery really ought to be a full-time job, but I knew the more the girls nursed the quicker my milk would come in. Twenty-four hours after the girls arrived, my larger daughter (a whopping 5 lbs. 4 oz!) was released from the NICU into my hospital room. The next 12 hours were even harder since I was forced to alternate nursing one in my room and then going down to the NICU to nurse the other. There was no time to rest, and in hindsight I'm not sure how I managed to pull this off. It must have been the pain meds and endorphins that kept me going.
When baby #2 (weighing in at 4 lbs. 5 oz!) arrived in my room, it practically blew my mind. Two babies? I looked at them in disbelief. How did this happen? When I was 10 I told a great aunt that when I grew up I wanted to have a boy and then twin girls. You know what they say... be careful what you wish for!
All I remember from those first few months afterwards was that I spent almost every waking moment (and some not-so-waking moments) nursing or pumping. Literally around the clock. I knew how lucky I was to produce enough milk to feed both of the girls. Yet I would still second-guess myself. I felt gobsmacked by the constant demands on my body. My husband saw how difficult this was on me, but he didn't know how to balance his concern with support of my commitment to breastfeeding. He even tried sneaking the girls some formula in a misguided attempt to make it easier on me.
The nursing and pumping drained me of my energy, the lack of sleep made me more than a little short-tempered and caring for two newborns and a toddler was even more challenging than I had anticipated. Nursing one baby is exhausting and nursing two seemed impossible on many occasions.
At around five months, things got easier. The girls started eating purees and I weaned them off their nightly feedings. They even began to sleep 11-12 hours a night! I was still waking to pump, but getting even a few hours of uninterrupted sleep a night was better than before.
Eventually, I figured out how to nurse both girls at the same time. It got easier with practice, but I never felt comfortable nursing them simultaneously. I preferred one at a time. Even then, the one not being fed usually broadcasted her hunger and impatience so loudly that it was almost impossible to actually enjoy the experience.
When they turned a year old, one daughter decided she was done with nursing. One morning she turned away, arched her back and never looked back. Just like that. Two months later, the other one's morning nursing became shorter and shorter until one fine day she requested a permanent change to the breakfast menu.
I am so grateful the twins weaned themselves, as I am not sure I could have ever let go on my own. I am immensely proud of nursing them for as long as I did. I feel I gave them the best start in life I could. It was overwhelming yet fulfilling all at the same time, two sentiments I learned did not have to be mutually exclusive.
I can also say without contradicting myself that I am not sad the nursing is over. I will never nurse again; the twins are going to be my last kids. The joys and challenges of nursing, with all of the beautiful and difficult moments are behind me now. I will always look back at that period with a special fondness and a trace of bittersweetness, but most of all with intense pride in my body and my special little girls.
This article is part of HuffPost Parents' World Breastfeeding Week series. Read more here.
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