Updated: Feb 17
Laura We are so happy to be talking with Leah Nakata. She's a constant source of encouragement, inspiration, and she never lets me sell myself short. She is an amazing hairstylist who blows me away with her talent and is the mother of James and Joseph. Identical twin boys. We dove into so many amazing topics today from feeding to the birth story of her twins and postpartum depression. So I hope you all are ready.
Laura Why don't you start off by telling everyone about the birth of the twins?
Leah So James and Joseph. Having identical twins is high risk. If you have fraternal twins, it's less high risk, but you can still have high risk. Identical twins get pretty risky. O the scale of high risk. I had a lower and high risk pregnancy, so everything was pretty great until twenty six weeks. My twenty six week ultrasound called the doctor during an ultrasound. Like just hang out. She's like, everything's fine. You're find to go home. And then the next day after I got home from the gym, there was a message on my phone that I needed to pack up for the next 3 months and go to the hospital because I was going to live there until I gave birth At 26 weeks I got checked in the hospital.
Leah The reason I landed in there was because James had absent and diastolic flow. And that means that every other heartbeat he received blood and nutrients instead of every single hard. They could see that on on the ultrasound. And you could see that he wasn't getting any much of anything through his cord and they caught it because he wasn't growing.
Leah When giving birth he would just go off the monitor during the contraction. He did that constantly. And they don't know if he was squeezing the cord or if he would roll on it or if there was really something wrong. They had no idea. It was just constant for a month. And then one day I got an ultrasound to see if they were still getting flow through the cord. Once it stops, it's called reverse diastolic flow. That means it just halts and it had halted. And they were like today's the day.
Leah It's twenty nine weeks in six days. So that means that I almost made it to thirty weeks. I essentially made it to 30. I gave birth at 8 p.m. and so they hooked me up to everything. They do that for a C-section. They scrub you aggressively with this weird paper thing in it sanitizes you for 24 hours. Then I just started bawling my eyes out because I'm terrified. We go back to the O.R. and everything. It's very surreal. You've got the bright lights everywhere. Everything is sterile, metallic. It looks one of those freaky horror movies where they're about to do some weird torture stuff for you. Like Dexter's.
Leah They gave me a spinal instead of an epidural. It was very easy, very quick. I was absolutely terrified of this part. I have been freaking out. My doctor and my nurse just had me hug them and hold them all. They were amazing. The anesthesiologists places the iodine in you to map out your spine, then just sticks the needle in and you don't feel anything. Then they ask you this very cheeky question to flip your legs up on the bed.
Leah And I was like, I cant. They're like, perfect. So I've done my job.
Leah And they go outside and my husband is wearing scrubs and they thought he was a doctor, but they eventually figured it out. So they get him in and sit him down. He wants to watch the surgery. He's one of those people. And unfortunately, he couldn't. Because when you have babies and to yourself. In that room, there is a team for you. There's a team for baby A team for baby B. And they were high risk, so it was even scarier. So it was amazing. Once you get sliced open, you hear each of the clips opening and closing because they're closing off valves and everything. And I cried until I heard the cry.
Leah And I heard the sweet, the sweetest little cries.
Leah That was Joe joke his head was ready to go. The entire time he never moved. And he was fine through this whole ordeal. And then James came out and he cried, too, and he peed all over. It was amazing. I never got to see them. I couldn't see. I could see a foot. It was too much for me, I just laid there while they sewed up and Jeff went down with them to the NICU.
Leah They move you to a room. They want you up and walking pretty much. You moments after. So I'm like, I stand up and then they're like, okay, you can send it. Okay. Now lay down and relax. Until you wake up. Yeah. And then I of course want to see the kids. So we go downstairs and I see the kids and it killed me to see them there in the incubator, the hooked up to IVs. I just cry and I know they're safe. I know they're in the best possible care. I can't even touch them. You can't rub them because that is too stimulating to them because they're not supposed to be out of the womb. So we're trying to create and totally ideal womb like space.
Laura So after giving birth, we've talked about how feeding the two boys was an experience and I think a mental adjustment. So talk about that a little bit more.
Leah When you have kids that early they have feeding tubes. They're not supposed to be feeding, you have to wait until they show signs of readiness to feed when they start searching and they start sucking. So they monitor for that every day and they let me know and if anything happens. But so I have to start pumping immediately. And this is where I made my mistake.
Leah I have done all the pumping research (aka Pinterest.) No one really had much of anything on what you need to do in the first 24 hours. I didn't see a lactation consultant and I never got to do any of the feeding courses because I gave birth that early. I wasn't able to see a LC unless they were gonna come to my room while I was on bed rest for a month.
Leah I was using at the time the Medela 1 Pump and it's on wheels and they just have them all throughout the hospital. And so you you know, you're only gonna get a little bit at first. And I remember literally getting one drop of colostrum and putting it in a syringe. I felt like a freaking hero. Liquid gold. It was so proud. I hand expressed for a really long time because the pump wasn't gonna do anything magical. But the mistake I made was not pumping consistently because I was so drugged up and exhausted that I never pumped like I should have. No one told me exactly how to do it, what to do with the machine. I want to see my kids that was my main priority. I hand expressed as much as I could and just sucking the colostrum with the little syringes that they give you. Eventually I started kind of coming out of the medicine coma and realizing like, okay, I need to like get on this ASAP.
Leah No one was telling me to. No one was checking in. They just kind of expect you to know what to do. Like, really? Know what I'm doing? People come and they're dropping off bills and they're dropping off information and more people working and working. So I was just in this fog of confusion, like what's happening. And I don't even get one piece of paperwork. I get double because I get paperwork for myself and people work for each boy. I'm pretty much given up on mental state at this point. Im just a robot.
Leah I am pumping as much as I can every two hours, they said at least every two hours. I said I'm just gonna do every two hours even if my nipples fall off. Seven days later I get dismissed to go home. I go to my sister in law's house because they don't have stairs. My house has four flights of stairs. And my bed is five feet off the ground.So there's no way I'm going to get up. So I go into their house. I'm sleeping in my niece and nephews room and I'm trying to pump with it with the medulla symphony. I don't really know how it works. I'm doing a poop ton of research on YouTube, trying to figure it out. Watching videos as I can. Like, what's the best method? And eventually my milk comes in and things start happening.
Leah And I'd say it was probably like five days until my milk came, came in. And it's because I wasn't proactively pumping because I didn't know what I was doing. Pumping every two hours unless I was sleeping because I was still recovering from surgery. I was eating everything I could that had oats in it and anything that had any sort of milk production. Iwas lost because I started getting clogged up They just tell you to massage it. I stood in the shower and I cried. Nothing happens in the shower. You know why?
Leah To any of you that are listening right now. You get a silicone breast pump and you just fill it up with warm to hot water. The clog is right behind your nipple. It's not up in your boob where you feel the lump. That's where it's backing up. The clog is literally right behind your nipple, so you can't even massage that out. Jeff might be embarrassed of this story, but I was so tempted to have him do it. I was in so much pain, I couldn't even put my arms down. And I just cried constantly. It felt like pins and needles. I think razor blades all over my boob.
I leaned over to Jeff and we agreed we would talk through this. We were laughing the entire time and I was trying to be serious. I lean up to him and his eyes cross as I get closer to his mouth. And i'm just I'm like, I can't do this. We can't do this is too stupid. And so I just get in the car and go to the hospital. And I tried to get a baby on me and it doesn't work. He is not ready. We don't know how to feed.
Leah Anyway, take the silicone pump and attach it on your boob. I didn't even have to wait a minute. And it had started drawing out the clog and other milk. You'll see it start trickling into the water. That was the beginning of my love for a silicone breast pump. And that's pretty much all I used it for. It wasn't breastfeeding, just pumping.
Leah I had the medulla symphony. The one that you come home with from the hospital. I even used one from what looks like the 1940s. Then I finally got the spectra S1. That's when I really started seeing major milk production. When you're making milk and your kids are in the NICU you have to store the milk and then you bring it every day or every other day or whenever you can make it to the need you.
Leah I'm not allowed behind the wheel for a long time. And so I had to ask people to drive me. So I am taking ice chests full of milk. They're like, wow, mommy, you're overproducing. You're killing the game. This is more than enough milk. So for a long time, I thought that I was based off of what everyone was saying, that I was killing the game for twins. I thought I was a super producer. But apparently I wasn't.
Laura Were you producing enough for one?
Leah Yeah. Maybe they were just making me feel really good about myself. I was already back to work, before the boys had come home from the NICU. Back to work two days a week, pumping eight times a day or more. Whenever a new employee would start at the salon, I'd be like, "Hi. These are my nipples. Welcome to the back room." I went back to work because there was no one paying the bills. I asked my husband to be a stay at home dad. That's what he was doing.
Laura If you had one piece of advice that you'd want to pass on to new moms is just beginning feting or in the feeding process and are having difficulties. What would you say?
Leah Don't worry about what it is. You can try your hardest. I like giving them whatever you want. If you give them a drop of colostrum like or a freezer full of milk, you. You did the right thing. You're killing the game. If you give a bottle of formula first thing, you're an awesome mom. You're doing the right thing. Your baby is fed. Fed is best. Breasts are magical. If you can do that, if it even works out for you. That's amazing. Or try breast milk from a friend. I borrowed breast milk from a couple people and it was amazing and I thank them so much.
Leah Just fed is best.
Laura The moment where I let go was I was at peace with it all. I was just so frustrated for so long at the whole process and I had a lactation consultant and they were telling me the things that I needed to do. But then I was like, it has to be done this certain way. And because of that, it just gave me anxiety. I was worried that she's not latching on perfectly or I didn't put my nipple correctly into her mouth. Luna only breastfeeds for 5 minutes. Then I'm reading online it should be forty five minutes.
Leah Some kids take 45 minutes to feed. James will drink from a bottle back in the beginning. He was he had definitely a feeding adversion. An oral version. From just having a tough go at it, he would take 30 minutes to take a bottle while Joseph was like, done. James would feed off the breast and Joseph would it. So Joseph was the stronger sucker. He wouldn't eat off the breast.
Leah You're paranoid about it when you're just trying to get your little tiny baby to gain weight so you feed them on the breast and then you pump it out after that and then you have to clean it and then you have to feed them the rest because you're like, did you even get enough? Yeah, this is a never ending thing. Breastfeeding is amazing for some people. It works out. Well, when it doesn't then you begimn wondering what the heck is going on and what's wrong with me? Why me? What? What's wrong with me? What am I doing wrong?
Leah Especially when you are dealing with postpartum hormones. I've had depression, I realized it when I was eight. I went into my mom's room and I was like, I feel really sad and I don't understand why. I just suppressed that. I used to feel so joyous all the time and go. After I had the boys was when I was like, that's it. I need to do something about this because I'm literally having the darkest thoughts of my life. I could just drive off a cliff and no one will miss me. I can't do anything right anyway. And that's just like postpartum depression paired with like lifelong depression. So now I'm on Zoloft. If anyone ever is like, oh, I would never take a drug? Well, guess what? Some people like myself literally were born with chemical imbalances. The second day I was on it. I walked to work smiling. I walked into work smiling and at ease.
Laura If you want to learn more about Leah and all she does visit www.leahnakatahair.com or visit her instagram @foxblossom