Postpartum Depression, Fructose Intolerance And Why I Stopped Breastfeeding Our Twins

Stop BFI have had a bit of a mental block these last few weeks. I have enjoyed writing about my twin pregnancy and then their birth but to honestly write about life with our girls was going to require a very honest raw post first. So before you think that our lives with twins have been all rainbows and sunshine I will tell you about a major bump in the road that has since put each day in perspective. I was able to bring these two beautiful, happy and easy-going girls into the world as a very experienced mama. I already knew how to bath, nurse, soothe and care for a newborn and I just had to double up. But three weeks into my girl’s lives I entered into three weeks of my own personal hell. I didn’t just experience a few hectic weeks, I experienced three straight weeks of stress so extreme that it can break a person. So here it is, our story of what caused me to experience postpartum depression and make the very satisfying decision to stop breast-feeding our girls when they were eight weeks old.

When Mia and Everly were born, other than Everly’s quick thirty-minute stay in the NICU for in-drawing, everything was going as smooth as a scheduled C-section can be. They each nursed right off the bat and to the amazement of my team of nurses I had them tandem nursing on the first try.  I had gone into my twin journey determined to breastfeed but okay with supplementing a little with formula if needed.

When we had our first child, Holden, I exclusively breastfed him until he was ten weeks old and suddenly no amount of nursing was satisfying him.  He was a very moody baby and like all four of our kids he had a huge appetite.  No matter what I tried to increase my supply I was never one of those blessed woman who could feed a village with her milk.  Maybe it was my lack of thyroid (I had a complete thyroidectomy when I was 19 due to severe hyperthyroidism and a hyper plastic nodule), but by the time I had exhausted every trick to increase my supply, postpartum depression had start lurking over my shoulder.  So when Holden was 10 weeks old I started giving him one or two bottles of formula a day and still nursed about the same amount as my friends were with their little ones.  I was able to breastfeed both of my older kids with a little formula supplementing each day for six months, which was when I was very ready to finish.

On day three in the hospital with our twins the nurses and pediatricians began to become alarmed with Everly’s weight loss.  There was a bit of confusion as to if her starting weight of 6lbs 3oz (Mia was 6lbs) was correct because of the commotion going on about her breathing issues.  But the scales weren’t lying.  Weigh after weigh Everly, although nursing like a champ, was losing weight until the point that she had lost over 10% of her starting body weight.  In the hospital you quickly learn that 10% is the magic number for alarm bells to go off as this weight loss was a dangerously high.  I was very relaxed about it and quickly agreed with the nurses to start both girls on some formula topping them up after each feed.

We headed home on day four when Everly started to gain a little weight and the following three weeks went by surprisingly well.  Although it was tricky at times to find the quiet and keep the older kids at bay to nurse, I really enjoyed tandem nursing and had a great routine of topping them up with a bottle.  I loved that I could nurse a twin and then pass them off to a family member to be topped off with a bottle.  The girls were sleeping well and I was getting up with them a couple times a night to feed.

Then the diarrhea hit.  What I initially dismissed as frequent breastfed newborn bowel movements turned into over forty frothy acidic bowel movements a day from each twin.  This caused a diaper rash so severe that it covered most of their bottoms right down to the dermis, bleeding at each diaper change.  No matter what diaper cream we tried or amount of air exposed to it, the rash would not improve.  We knew that until the diarrhea stopped the rash wouldn’t go away.  We switched a couple of formulas, which didn’t make a difference either.  They were crying constantly, no really, I mean constantly!

A Video of Mia and Everly Crying That I Sent To Mike At Work So He Could Experience It

During this time we had a temporary nanny to help with our older kids during the summer months and my husband Mike was wrapping up the biggest project of his career.  This kept him away from home and he was arriving home late everyday for weeks, which was rare for his job.  I was averaging 30 minutes of sleep a night.  Although I was getting a lot of help from family members, I could barely string together a sentence.  I remember lying on the couch for two minutes while my sister-in -law was over helping me.  I was babbling like a delirious sleep deprived lunatic and she was looking at me with very concerned eyes.  I eventually stopped the bedtime help because only I could put the babies to bed and the older kids just wanted mom after the day with the nanny and would start acting up if another outside person was there trying to help.  If I hadn’t been as prepared and organized as I was for twins I would have completely sunk.  It was the perfect storm for postpartum depression.  Although I knew a dark cloud had settled over my head I couldn’t stop for a minute, or else my house of cards would come crashing down.

I started to take action carting my girls into the emergency room with the help of my mom.  The situation was baffling and taken very seriously.  The nurses and doctors couldn’t believe how healthy and hydrated they were despite their chronic diarrhea and contributed that to my sleepless nights of feeding.  Blood and stool samples were taken and our girls were misdiagnosed with a dairy intolerance.  I was falling apart; I could barely hold it together.  I had been through so many stressful experiences in my life but this was the only time that I felt like I was in a pressure cooker and that I might shatter into a million pieces.  Mike and I decided that because he was only a week away from his deadline that he had worked so hard for, we wouldn’t pull the plug.  I was starting to lose hope and began panicking that no one would be able to figure out what was wrong with our poor babies.

Then a nervous doctor called us back into the emergency room and put us in touch with another pediatrician.  This pediatrician dug deeper and asked lots of questions about our older kids including their own diarrhea triggers.  I pointed out that they cannot have apple juice without having diarrhea after.  He explained that he thought our girls could have a Dietary Fructose Intolerance…..  A WHAT?

A dietary fructose intolerance: (not to be confused with a life threatening hereditary fructose intolerance).  Fructose is naturally present in fruits, some vegetables and honey. It is also used as a sweetener in some soft drinks and fruit drinks. When the body doesn’t absorb fructose properly, it is called fructose malabsorption or fructose intolerance.  Fructose malabsorption occurs when the body is not able to break down fructose during the digestive process. When undigested fructose reaches the intestines, it reacts with naturally occurring bacteria and generates carbon dioxide and hydrogen gases, which can cause bloating, abdominal pain, heartburn, diarrhea and gas.  –

It’s bizarre and very rare for an infant to have a fructose intolerance, but twins?  It was worth a shot.  The pediatrician raced around researching and making calls to find out what if any baby formula did’t contain fructose.  Most of them do, even many that don’t list it right on the label. Finally, after speaking to a gastro pediatric specialist, he found Earth’s Best organic baby formula.

I left the hospital exhausted and still in disbelief that this could be the answer.  After having our girls on the new formula for a few days we saw an improvement.  I was still nursing but I found myself feeling like a shell of a person.  Between giving so much of my body during my twin pregnancy, my C-section and then the colossal three weeks of stress and sleep deprivation I had endured, I didn’t feel like myself.  While nursing our then six week old girls in the middle of the night I suddenly knew that I had to stop breastfeeding.  Only trace amounts of fructose if any are in breast milk, but it was acting as a natural laxative for our girls.  Between that, me being completely spent and still fighting postpartum depression I made the decision right then and there to stop breast-feeding.  I was certain.  Not a bone in my body had any doubt.  It took two weeks to wean our girls off of nursing.  The diarrhea completely cleared up.  Our girls were happy, satisfied, content and SLEEPING.IMG_1546

The clouds started to part as my hormones leveled out and I began to feel joy again.  The girls were thriving and rarely even fussed.  You bet I enjoyed the perks of bottle-feeding.  Propping them up for feeds (which they prefer) and watching others feed them including our older kids.  I have an incredible bond with our twin girls.  Of course it’s different from the bond I have from our older kids, just like my bond is different between my two oldest.  Occasionally I’ll feel a pang of guilt as I watch them gobbling down a bottle propped up while I am trying to get dinner on the table for six people.  But then I think about how incredibly happy and social they are and frankly much more content than my older two ever were and I know that the choice I made was the right one.

Here’s the kicker: although I am so certain with my decision, I find myself picking and choosing which photos I post, avoiding photos of my girls having bottles in fear of breast feeding bullies coming after me with torches and pitch forks.  I have made the decision to post those photos.  As many of you know I am very active on social media, especially Instagram.  I will be posting the beautiful photos of my girls enjoying their bottles that don’t hurt their tummies and bring them so much joy under the hashtag #thebottleisbeautiful.  I Invite you to follow me on Instagram and if you have bottle fed your baby/babies add your beautiful bottle feeding photos with #thebottleisbeautiful.  Let’s stop bottle shaming now.


20 Tricks, Items And Life Hacks That Make Life Easier With New Twins

This is NOT a sponsored post, I just really like these items
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Twins nursery-90 cribs names

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1. Use toy straps to assign each car seat.  I always loved using the the Pippalily Toy Strap with my older kids to keep Sophie in place but I attached different straps to each car seat before our girls were born.  Thankfully I did!  Our girls are fraternal twins and completely different lengths which means their car seat straps are at different levels and they can’t swap car seats.

2. Get a high chair that you can tilt back.  I’ve always started using our Peg Perego Prima Pappa Diner high chair way before our babies were ready to eat solids.  I have found it so handy to put our twins in their’s reclined so they can watch me while I prepare meals in our kitchen.

3. Invest in a twin size diaper bag.  I had a very hard time convincing my husband that we needed to replace our standard size diaper bag with a larger one made for twins while I was pregnant with our girls.  Thankfully my incredible mommy friends pitched in and bought me the Patunia Pickle Bottom Abundance Boxy Backpack – my dream diaper bag!  We don’t know what we would do without a bigger bag today!  Don’t worry there are also some more budget friendly options too, like the Skip Hop Dual Double Diaper Bag.

4. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.  This is a rule in our home.  Whoever is crying gets the attention first.  Because you are not an octopus and don’t have eight arms there will be many times you have to see to one twin while the other one waits.  Pick whoever is fussiest to see to them first.  Twins tend to be very patient babies because they learn to wait their turn from a very early age.

5. Assign cribs with each twin’s name.  While pregnant with our twins I debated if I should add  each twin’s initial or name to the decor over their crib and in the end decided to go for a pretty decal.  Although I did it for aesthetic reasons at first, it sure has come in handy.  Not only is it helpful for others to know who goes where but on more than one occasion I have sleepily almost put a twin in the wrong crib only to look up to read the name and remember which baby I was holding before correcting myself… oh sleep deprivation, the mean games you play on me!

6. A Blender Bottle makes for great formula storage.  You know those protein shake Blender Bottles that are collecting dust in your cupboard because you don’t have time to work out anymore?  Well thanks to my husband’s genius idea (yes honey I am giving you credit) they are great for pre-making a batch of baby formula to have stored in your fridge.  We will make up two jugs the night before and it saves so much time the next day.

7. Use a pacifier that will stay put.  I am a pacifier believer.  When our twin’s pacifiers kept falling out when they were teeny tiny I found it was very frustrating putting them back in all the time because I was having to do it twice as much.  Solution: WubbaNub pacifiers.  They have a stuffed animal on the end that weighs it down and you can tuck into under their swaddler blanket to hold it in place.IMG_1509

8. Use a small white board to let people know what they can help with.  We initially had a white board in our kitchen to record the twin’s feedings but I quickly added a section with a list of chores that family members and guests could help with.  You will probably have so many visitors wanting to pitch in and help, but when you are so busy and sleep deprived it can be a little hard to delegate.  Take a minute each day to write a list on the board and just direct your guests to that list.  For example: empty the dishwasher, play with the older kids, fold baby’s laundry, walk the dog etc…

9.  Only do baths every few days and sponge baths in between.  Bathing 2 babies is an exhausting and time consuming task.  Don’t worry about bathing them every day.  Today I still only give our six month old twins baths every 3 or 4 days.  I get a wet warm cloth and soap and wash their faces, necks and hands every day (bottoms are cleaned every diaper change) and then give them a full bath a couple times a week.  Trust me, your back will thank you.

10. Buy two Boppy Pillows.  When you have twins Boppy Pillows quickly become that extra set of arms you don’t have.  They can help hold a baby when tandem feeding, assist your little ones when learning to sit and even help with tummy time.

11. MamaRoos, better than a nanny.  When we had our older kids we used those massive swings that were battery operated.  One day I watched in awe as my friend placed her swaddled newborn into this pod-like machine from the future.  The MamaRoo is almost a better helper than your husband… I said ALMOST!  They are sleek, can be reclined or sit up-right, you can plug your iPod into it to play your music, or you can listed to the sound machine built in.  You can set the speed or type of motion, like a car-ride for example.  It also has a small foot print and plugs into the wall for power so no worrying about replacing the batteries… amazing!

12. Assign a colour to each twin.  Before our twins were born I started to sort out who would get what and I found it very helpful to assign a colour to each of them.  Things like pacifiers and pacifier clips would typically come in packs of purple and pink, so Everly got purple and Mia got pink.  It even worked well with the toy straps identifying their car seats.  This would also work well for boys with green and blue.

13. Designate a laundry area.  There’s a good chance that you will never again have every piece of laundry washed, folded and put away.  Or at least not in the near future.  I have sacrificed our dining room table for our laundry area.  This way it is all in one spot and not on the floor in piles.  When you have a family member wanting to pitch in and help fold laundry you can direct them to that area and let them get to work.

14. Wake the sleeping baby.  Contradictory to the rule don’t wake a sleeping baby, when you have two you have to throw that rule out the window.  I would recommend waking the sleeping baby at night so you can get everyone fed at once.  Any night I haven’t done that I am kicking myself an hour later when I am up once again.  I let our girls nap off of each other’s schedules during the day but get them back onto the same schedule for nighttime.

15. Get a small portable bottle cooler.  Anytime we know we are going to be out longer than a quick trip to the store, I pack two large full bottles in the diaper bag  and then one of the Blender Bottles in the cooler for refills.  This works very well instead of packing six separate bottles. The JJ Cole Collections cooler is a great option.

16. Use cloth bibs to reduce your laundry.  We have been blessed with four spitter-uppers… insert sarcasm.  I swap out dirty cloth bibs every couple hours instead of getting into the big process of changing them constantly.  This also reduces my dirty laundry pile significantly.

17. Keep an open buttonless sweater where you nurse your twins at night.  Because it is a lot easier to tandem nurse while topless it is nice to have sweater to throw on to stay warm.  A comfortable knit that is open at the front is a perfect option.  Try to find one that is buttonless so you are not having to worry about hard buttons pressing against your little one’s faces.  This open front sweater from Old Navy would be an ideal option.

18.  Call ahead to organize parking arrangements.  It is daunting enough trying to get out of the house with your newborn twins without help and the last thing you need is to arrive at your friend’s house and realize there is no room in their driveway or no parking spot close to their home.  Call ahead and ask them to leave a space for you and to help you bring everyone and everything in.  That little phone call makes a HUGE difference.

19. Set up a second change station near your kitchen.  If your twin’s nursery is upstairs it makes life so much easier to set up a second change station near the busiest part of your home: the kitchen.  Keep some extra outfits, bibs and lots of diapers there.  This is a sanity saver.

20. Don’t forget, your twins can help soothe each other.  Right from day one I have noticed a special bond between our girls.  If one is being a little fussy try laying her/him down right next to her/his brother/sister with their bodies touching.  You may be surprised.  Their breathing slows and they become very peaceful.


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