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Patient story: Mother’s journey of struggles and successes

| Women’s Health | Patient Stories | Healthy You

Close-up of baby nursing

With help and persistence, this determined mother of premature twins overcame challenges to nurse her daughters.

Katelyn Lucey is a dedicated mother of three. She is grateful for this rewarding role but acknowledges that motherhood isn’t easy. “Being a mom is a lot. We often have a picture of what it will be like, and it doesn’t always go as planned. We all have our struggles, and it can be overwhelming at times,” she said. 

She encourages moms not to weather any storms alone. “It’s important for mothers to reach out for support when they need help, whatever that may be,” she added.  

Her story demonstrates that she heeded her own advice.  

An unexpected journey

Katelyn faced many challenges on her motherhood journey with her twins, Savannah and Charlotte. She learned early in her pregnancy that they suffered from twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), a rare condition that occurs when abnormal blood vessel connections form between identical twins sharing the same placenta.  

Katelyn underwent a successful TTTS correction surgery at 19 weeks of gestation and delivered the two girls by cesarean section at 29 weeks on June 4, 2018. Savannah weighed just 3 pounds, 3 ounces, and Charlotte (which means “petite”) weighed 2 pounds, 4 ounces. It was a long 78 days for Savannah and 86 days for Charlotte before they were able to go home to live with their family. 

The next obstacle 

Katelyn had survived these difficult times, but there was another challenge to overcome: She wanted to exclusively breastfeed her daughters. She recognized the nutritional value of breastmilk and hoped to forgo the extra work of pumping. 

This was a big goal. “Breastfeeding doesn’t necessarily come naturally; so many factors need to align for it to work,” she explained. And even greater odds were stacked against her with premature twins.

But Katelyn was determined. “I’m pretty stubborn!” she joked.

Breastfeeding guidance

Katelyn received a referral to see lactation consultant Johanne Roorda, RN, IBCLC, with PeaceHealth Medical Group in Bellingham. She appreciated that Johanne was a trusted and familiar face, as she’d served as her lactation consultant with her son two years prior.

Johanne worked with Katelyn, Savannah and Charlotte to get them into a nursing groove. “She was just so down-to-earth. It was a very supportive, encouraging relationship,” Katelyn reported.

If strategies didn’t work, Johanne problem-solved and offered new resources to address any roadblocks Katelyn encountered. “Johanne was very realistic. I felt fully supported and never felt any pressure to do things a specific way,” she noted. Katelyn learned about many breastfeeding tools and approaches, including nipple shields, supplemental nursing systems and tandem nursing tips. 

After several weeks of one-on-one coaching, Katelyn was able to nurse her girls on her own. Savannah and Charlotte met their weight gain goals and officially “graduated” from lactation services.  

Onward and upward

It is clear that Katelyn’s determination and self-professed “stubbornness” served her well in this breastfeeding accomplishment, but she knows that she couldn’t have done it without Johanne’s assistance. “It was a wonderful experience. She was really there for me,” she said.

Katelyn’s voice radiated pride as she described her beautiful, happy, healthy daughters with their chubby cheeks and chunky thighs—now fourteen months old. She continues to breastfeed them. 

There will be many more milestones and achievements in their future, and there will be many more cheerleaders— like Johanne— to support them (and their mother) along the way. 

Many mothers need extra reassurance or assistance with breastfeeding challenges. Seeking out a lactation consultant can help new moms reach successful breastfeeding. 

PeaceHealth Medical Group’s lactation consultants are happy to support you on your breastfeeding journey. The service is covered by most insurances.