by Josie Glausiusz
In the autumn of 2010, when I was pregnant with twins, my dear husband Larry bought me a copy of “Breastfeeding Your Baby,” by Sheila Kitzinger. The book, originally published in 1989, is filled with pictures of half-dressed, Earth Mothery women with long flowing hair, large bosoms and serene expressions, peacefully nursing one baby, or twins together, or a young baby and an older child at the same time. I’m not sure why, but I just couldn’t read that book. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed even one baby, let alone twins. A friend of mine had told me that her baby on her breast had felt “like a piranha latched onto her chest,” and somehow the image stuck in my head.
My twin babies are now one year old, and I’m still breastfeeding both of them together in the mornings, one on each breast. It’s one of the most nurturing and comforting feelings I have ever known.
That I was able to succeed in nursing these two babies is a testament to perseverance, because when they were born, eight weeks early, they weren’t even able to suck. I was in my thirtieth week of pregnancy when I developed preeclampsia, perilously high blood pressure that occurs more commonly in older mothers with twin pregnancies. I spent a week in New York’s Roosevelt Hospital before going into labor early on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, and giving birth by emergency Caesarian to two tiny babies, a girl and a boy, at 31-and-a-half weeks’ gestation. I had but a moment to register their arrival before they were whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). I spent the next 26 hours in the recovery room, doped up on pain drugs and anti-seizure medication, and it wasn’t until the following evening that I saw my babies again.
When I looked at my little daughter Rena in her incubator, I cried. She was so small and thin—just two pounds seven ounces—that she had no cheeks. But she was strong, breathing without assistance, with a powerful set of lungs. My son Aryeh was bigger at 3 pounds 12 ounces, but neither of them had developed their sucking reflex. They were fed intravenously at first, through a catheter in the umbilical cord, and also with tiny quantities of pumped breast milk delivered directly into their stomachs with a clear plastic flexible “gavage” feeding tube inserted into their nose or mouth. Read more…