The pump monologues: surviving exclusive pumping
Due to a series of health issues as a baby, my exclusively breastfed daughter became a poor feeder and began refusing to nurse. As a result, my milk supply all but disappeared, much to my dismay. With no milk left to provide, I tried giving her formula, to which she immediately had a potentially dangerous allergic reaction.
And so just shy of my daughter turning eight months old, I found myself out of milk with a dairy-allergic child and no alternatives, as we had no luck with the specialized formulas the pediatrician recommended. In desperation, I sought counsel from a lactation consultant about how to get my milk back. Her advice: take a supplement called More Milk Plus and pump every two hours day and night for 30 minutes each time. Every. Single. Day.
Not to brag or anything, but I became a master-pumper. I had to be, as I often produced only enough milk to fill one bottle at a time to feed my daughter. Many times there were no reserves. The stress of not knowing from feeding to feeding if your baby will have enough milk to drink is enough to send any mom into a panic.
My pump and I became inseparable. Usually self-conscious to a fault, I had to throw all shame out the window. I pumped while doing things, in places, and in front of people I never imagined I would: putting on makeup, eating dinner, driving my car. I had no idea about those fancy hands-free pumping bras either, so I had to get pretty creative about how to keep everything in its proper place as I multi-tasked. The general public is somewhat likely to accept a mom breastfeeding her baby. But attaching a machine to your “girls” in public…well that’s a different story. With a blanket draped over me I pumped while on vacation in a room full of extended family members—uncles, cousins, boyfriends of cousins—the drone of the pump awkwardly filling the air. I even hastily covered up with a sweater and whipped out my pump in the middle of the Atlanta airport, trying to ignore the stares of strangers, desperate for a few more drops of milk so my daughter wouldn’t go hungry.
I’d love to be able to say that I faced this pumping drama with grace, gladly and willingly “hooking up” every time. But in all honesty, at first I was kind of a brat about it: irritated, frustrated, and downright mad (just ask my husband!). How unfair that I had to be inconvenienced, stressed, embarrassed, exhausted, put through pain. Poor me! And then somewhere along the way it hit me…this wasn’t about ME. It was about doing what I needed to do for the welfare of the precious little life with which I’d been entrusted, no matter how far out of my comfort zone I had to step. And when it comes down to it, isn’t that really what being a parent is all about?
Pumping sucks!!! I was determined to breast feed my son for at least one year. I had to return to work after 4 short months. I had no other choice but to pump. I would wake up 30 minutes earlier to pump. I would pump by 9am. i would pump again by 1pm. then I would get home and feed my son. And then I would pump again before I went to bed. UGHHHH. I hated it. It was time consuming and gave me problems at work…..BUT it was worth it in the end. I felt as if it was a goal that I had set and actually accomplished!
You’re right- it’s a total pain, but when you look back at what you accomplished it’s pretty rewarding!
I am in your boat!! And I have been dangerously close to tossing away the oars to said boat and clambering to shore. I’m exclusively pumping now, and let me tell you it seems like there isn’t ANYONE who hasn’t seen my breasts. And I was thinking the same thing the other day- hooking up a pump to the girls in public is fairly taboo, unfortunately. I had to pump in the parking lot of a nightclub while I was there for work a few weeks ago- pretty sure they don’t have a lactation room in the club :/
But you’re right, it’s really all about the little person depending on you. One of my friends adopted a baby the same time I had mine, and her poor little one is suffering from the worst cold right now. My daughter hasn’t been sick yet (FINGERS CROSSED AND KNOCK ON WOOD!) and I like to think that it’s because of the antibodies she’s getting through my milk. Even if that’s not true, it helps get me through the next pumping session 🙂
Hang in there… You can do it! It can be hard to keep chugging… or pumping… along, but just keep remembering who it’s for- your sweet little daughter! 🙂
Kudos to you! I’d like to think I would have done the same, but I hated pumping with a passion!
Good for you Cara! What you did was by no means easy. I do think airports are a #1 place we need better spaces for pumping. Bathrooms are gross, and sometimes trying to find a quiet corner is impossible. So often that is when you are separated from your little one, too! They have started this in Vermont, but wouldn’t this have been nice for you??
Way to go on all your hard work!
That’s awesome! Hopefully others will follow suit.
This is great! Definitely would have saved me some awkward moments!
I was an exclusive pumper after our pediatrician determined my speedy let-down was hurting my daughter, who had GERD and needed a slower flow. IT. WAS. TOUGH. I remember having to stay positive and find fun things to do (read on Kindle because you can flip pages with one hand!) to make it easier.