Spilled Milk: Confessions of a NICU Mom

“One pump, two pumps, three pumps, four. Only a 10 more minutes until I can see my babies more.”

I had a c-section at 9:10 PM and welcomed my 26 week and 5 day old twins: a little lady and a mini man. That same night, the NICU doctor came to my room and discussed the babies’ nutrition plan, asked me to start pumping and asked if it was ok to use donor milk if I was not able to produce. To everyone’s surprise (including mine). I was able to build up a supply enough to feed a full-term baby within a week and a half. This was quite the opposite of what we experienced with my first son when he was an infant. With our son, my supply was very little and depleted within three weeks, so this abundance of supply for 2 lb. babies was new territory.

“Five pumps, six pumps, go, go, go”

I began using my pump times to keep track of the day, using it as a reminders of when it was time to do to the hospital to visit the little ones. It became part of my “new normal” routine.

Then today, I cried over spilled milk.

Spilled Milk: Confessions of a NICU Mom

I had transferred one bag, and laid the second bag on top, and woosh. Both bags deflated and at least 150 ml of breastmilk was flooding across my counter. Grabbing a dish towel and swearing, I was hoping to salvage what was left. My husband came up to see what was the matter. My body was shaking. He was trying to comfort me and tell me it was ok. Walking away, I asked him to finish transferring with tears welling up in my eyes.

I couldn’t believe it. I used that time to pump, and missed my babies’ feeding time (which is when I can hold them). Then – just like that – half of it was gone. The babies needed it. I needed it. It made me feel like I was performing a normal day to day task. I can’t cuddle and comfort them anytime they cry. I have to split my days between NICU and home to make it back in time for dinner with my toddler and husband. My connection with my babies is the milk. Pumping was one of the few things I could do. 

“Seven pumps, eight pumps, nine, pumps ten, only two hours until I do it all again.”

Some days, I can handle my new normal. I can find things that make the day go by faster. Then there are days where I feel like a slave to the clock and pump. I feel like I have to rush out of the house to make it in time for the feedings as it is my few opportunities to snuggle with them.

Small missteps of mine or even accidents with the mixture of hormones start to set me off, and then I have to remember something. My babies are safe. The twins are in good care by their nurses. They are extremely loved by us. I need to keep chugging (or pumping) along because life won’t slow down. 

Splitting my days between the NICU and home gives me a taste of what is to come, but also allows me to come back to familiarity. The twins taught me that with their early and very unexpected arrival.

As moms, we can get sucked into our day-to-day tasks and get too focused on the little details. It fogs up the bigger picture.

Yes, my babies need my milk, but I think I need the sense of normalcy more. The new normal can be daunting, but it is what you make of it.


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Samantha is a go-getting, optimistic, glass half-full type of person. She is a mommy of three littles, three angel babies, and a pup. She has been married to her Kohawk sweetheart, Eric, for 5 years, and both are transplants to Cedar Rapids. Although their family experienced infertility, IVF, and balancing the triple threat of graduate school, working full time and rounding up their little brood, the Woods would say the emotions are worth it. Every hand to hold, nose to kiss, and boo boo to wash away makes everything right in the crazy world of parenting. When she’s not in survival mode, Samantha enjoys running, learning the secret language of toddlers, cooking with a full kitchen, and party-of-five cuddles on the couch. Samantha enjoys running, shaking her groove thing to 70's and 80's pop with her son, Oliver, and family cuddle time.

1 COMMENT

  1. I know the feeling of spilled milk. When you struggle to make enough, the smallest bit lost is like a dagger! You are so strong. Pump on mama!!

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