I knew caring for a newborn was tough. I knew caring for twins would be hard x 2. But, honestly, I thought that since the babies were in the NICU and had 24/7 nurse-support that I would have all this free time to just sleep, rest, and recover. Obviously the emotional part of being away from the girls would be tough, but I thought the physical part would be no-big-deal….a lot of watching TV and/or movies and lazing about recovering. I could not have been more WRONG!!!

A lot of my time is spent pumping breast milk, so I’m sure my schedule is 100% different than anyone deciding to use formula, but providing breast milk has been a huge priority for me and since the girls were born so premature that they have not yet developed the suckling reflex (it should develop around 34-36 weeks gestational age….so another 1-3 weeks), pumping has been my only option.

So for anyone who is curious, here is what a day in my shoes has looked like. This is my REAL schedule for exactly 1 week post-partum.

Monday July 2, 2012

*technically, this starts on Sunday night, July 1st…

11:30pm                    finished pumping breast milkk

11:45pm-1:45am     sleep!!!

1:50 – 2:40am          set-up, pump, and clean-up

2:45 – 5:20am          sleep!!!

5:25-6:05am            set-up, pump, and clean-up

6:10-7:20am            sleep!!!

7:25-8:05am           set-up, pump, and clean-up; while pumping Mom makes breakfast for me to eat

8:05-8:15am           brush teeth, throw on clothes, head out the door to go to the hospital

8:15-8:30am           drive time (Mom drives while I put my hair up and give myself just a touch of make-up)

8:30-9:30am           visit with Baby Brooke! I got to hold her today, but no skin-to-skin contact until this evening : (

9:30-10:25am          visit with Baby Bailey! I got to hold her too, but no skin-to-skin all day (she’s undergoing some care changes and the             doctors’ don’t want her to be over-stimulated since that can deter her progress)

10:30-11:15am         set-up, pump, and clean-up (luckily, the NICU has little rooms designated for pumping Moms, so I just pump at the hospital)

11:15-12:00pm         go to hospital cafeteria and eat lunch (luckily the hospital cafeteria’s food isn’t too bad)

12:00-12:15pm         drive time – back home

12:15-12:35pm          shower and get dressed in PJ’s

12:35-12:55pm         general household stuff/chores (put away some of my hospital clothes that have been sitting in the bag, call to schedule my 2 week postpartum doctors’ checkup, etc).

1:00-1:40pm             set-up, pump, and clean-up

1:40-2:10pm            first time in a week to check my e-mail! I sort through the “important” stuff and leave most other things to be dealt with later in the week. I also write out checks to pay a couple bills (which my Mom drives to the post office to buy stamps and mail for me)

2:15-3:35                   sleep!!!

3:40-4:20                  set-up, pump, and clean-up

4:20-4:40                  upload hospital pictures to computer, change into “real” clothes, start writing this post : )

4:40-5:00                 drive time – going to dinner with Chris’ Mom while she’s in town

5:00-5:20                  at the restaurant. Yes….only 20 minutes. Had to rush to get to the hospital!!!

5:20-5:40                  drive time – to the hospital!!!

5:45-6:30                   visit with Baby Brooke! Got to try feeding her with a bottle for the first time ever (as opposed to the feeding tube)!! She ate about half, and the other half had to be fed with the tube, but even this was a HUGE step forward! Great progress!!!

6:30-6:50                   visit with Baby Bailey. This is a much shorter visit than our usual length because Chris was holding her with his Mom and I wanted them to have some time together. I read to her and sat with Chris as he held her, then left to go to the NICU pumping room.

7:00-7:40                   set-up, pump, and clean-up

7:40-8:15                   go to the hospital cafeteria for a bit more food (I only had an appetizer at our 20-minute long “dinner”)

8:15-8:30                  drive time – back home

8:30-9:00                  write another blog post with the pictures that I uploaded this morning. Start working on Birth Story, Part 3.

9:00-9:40                  set-up, pump, and clean-up

9:45-10:00               get ready for bed (wash face, put on PJs, etc)

10:00-12:45am       sleep!!!  ***beginning of Tuesday, 7/3/2012

12:50-1:30am         set-up, pump, and clean-up


Here are some totals

Total hours of sleep in 24 hour period: 8 hours 50 minutes (this is a lot because I got a 2 hour nap today!!)

Most sleep at any 1 time:  2 hours 35 minutes

Total time spent with daughters at the NICU:  3 hours (this is very low compared to normal, since I usually visit each baby twice and today I barely saw Bailey on my second visit)

Total time spent driving:  1 hour 25 minutes

Total time spent with personal grooming:  55 minutes

Time spent pumping: 5 hours 35 minutes

So all I do = Sleep, Pump, and See Babies!!!! And it literally takes an entire day with absolutely zero time to spare. And I refuse to give up any of those 3 things. How am I going to start working again in a week????? NO IDEA! This is something I’ve got to figure out, since I’m teaching an online class starting on July 9th and I need to resume some statistical analyses I’ve been working on. I’ve got all of this week to continue with business as usual with the girls….then I’m going to have to figure something out. I guess out of the 3 activities I’d rather cut back on sleep??? We’ll see, I may just take up residence at the hospital so I don’t have the drive time and I can work on my computer from there in-between baby feeds. I’m confident I’ll figure it out.

Breast Pumping Q & A (my most frequently asked questions):

Q: Why do you pump so frequently?

A:  The recommended amount is 8-10 times per day. I’ve been averaging 8 pumps per day, so I’m actually on the low-end.

Q: Why pump for so long?

A:  Pumping is all about supply-and-demand. I have twins rather than a single baby. All of the literature I have read recommends pumping during week 1 for 15-20 minutes per breast to get started and increasing the “demand” during week 2 to 30 minutes per breast. This establishes a high “demand” during a critical period during breast milk production so that the body knows it will need to be supplying a LOT of milk….enough for 2 babies! After a couple of weeks at 30 minutes per-breast, I should be able to reduce again down to 15-20 minutes per breast. The set-up and clean-up typically averages about 10-15 minutes (cleaning and drying the equipment, bottling and labeling the milk, etc.).

Q:  Why pump?

A:  Oh wow….where to begin? No, I”m not even going to tackle this one. Suffice it to say that breastfeeding is very important to me….especially given the girls’ premature status! You can google all about the benefits for yourself.

Q:  Why not multitask while you pump?

A:  Well….I’m getting a little better at this. I’ve made a couple phone calls while pumping and I can do a little typing while pumping. Initially, though, pumping took my 100% attention. I rented a hospital-grade breast pump for the first month or two (while I’m establishing my supply) because it’s the best-of-the-best and can help me get my supply high. Unfortunately, the thing is huge and has to be plugged in, so I’m on a leash. It also pumps both breasts at the same time and – at first – it required me to literally hold the pump to each breast, so my hands were full! Now I’ve gotten better at managing it using a hands-free pumping bra.

So if you were ever curious what the day of a woman might look like when she’s got babies in the NICU….now you know! It’s not glamorous and its certainly NOT leisurely. This came as quite the surprise to me! But I would do anything for those little girls, so it’s not even a question to me that I’m going to continue with this schedule. Seeing those girls and providing them with the nutrients they need to grow big and strong is all the incentive I need!!! ❤