Monday, May 19, 2014

Pumping My Brains Out—Exclusive Pumping Pros and Cons

Since P was eight weeks old I have been mostly pumping for my girl. If you are unfamiliar with my story of what happened to our breastfeeding relationship, then you can read about it here. Up until two weeks ago, my little babe was still breastfeeding whenever she woke in the night (rarely) and first thing every morning. NOW—she has even stopped doing that. So I am an exclusive pumper. I feel like I am in an AA meeting or something. Hi—my name is Caroline and I have a problem—I am an exclusive pumper! This is not something that was even on my radar when I signed up for the whole breastfeeding gig. I am a little bitter about the whole thing—can you tell?
Nevertheless—I thought that writing about it may help some of you out there in cyberspace. So here is a little look into my world—the good and the bad. This post is not a how to, but (sadly) more of a gripe post.
I would like to say that pumping was a calculated decision—but I just jumped right in. For those of you who like to make decisions based on Pros and Cons—here is how I see it.

·         P still gets my breastmilk—I mean isn’t that the overall goal here. To make sure that she gets the nutrients, antibodies, hormones, etc?
·         Breast milk is the most nutritional option.
·         It may keep her from getting sick
·         It may make her IQ higher
·         I still get the benefits—protection from Cancer and weight loss and maintenance
·         It is cheaper than buying formula --I am not ashamed to say that this is a factor me and my hubs. You may think less of me for that—but I secretly think that all parents think about the money side of it even if they aren’t willing to admit it.

·         It’s not as intimate—I mean you are literally hooked up to a machine 4- 7 times a day
·         It’s painful—especially at the end of the day.
·         It’s time consuming—P can drink what I am pumping in less than half the time it takes for me to pump it out.
·         It’s inconvenient—This is the hardest part for me. I can’t go anywhere without the pump now-a-days. So now I am lugging around a diaper bag, and a bag with my pump, pump parts, bottles or bags to pump into, cooler with ice packs, quick cleaning wipes to clean the pump…and a partridge in a pear tree. Oh, I forgot about the baby in the carrier too. That means I am only leaving if I absolutely HAVE to! For those keeping track—I need like 10 hands.
·         I can’t wear anything cute—this is because lots of my shirts wont stretch enough for the pump parts to fit comfortably underneath. This means that I either have to pull my shirt practically off or just wear baggy clothing all the time.
o   Let me tell you this story—the other weekend I went to my cousin’s college graduation. While at the graduation, I had to walk all the way back to where we parked our car to pump (in the rain). Then, since I was wearing a dress I had to practically pull it all the way up over my head so I could reach the zipper enough to pull it down. Once I pulled it down, I had to sit in the car essentially topless facing the road where cars and people were walking around. YOU CANNOT MAKE THIS STUFF UP. Then, after graduation I had to pump in the car with four other people because we were stuck in traffic and I was already an hour off my schedule.
·         It takes quality time away from my daughter—During the day when  J is at work, I have to feed P a bottle and pump. While, I have found a way to do the two at the same time—it has gotten very hard to do so. P is far too wiggly to sit in my lap while I pump. This means that most of the time I have to have her entertained in some other activity while I pump (or pump while she naps). Before you know it—the days become one pumping cycle after another. It’s monotonous and I HATE IT!
·         You have to wash dishes CONSTANTLY—I have storage bottles, regular bottles, nipples, pump parts, and spare pump parts. All of these things have to be washed daily.

I realize that  this post has become one big complaint, but this is the truth. It is how I feel. During the last week I have been seriously considering giving it all up and switching to formula. I go through cycles where I want to—and then I change my mind. My hubs is very supportive. He says, “we can start buying formula whenever you want.” Then he also says, “However, it seems like such a waste of all of your hard work.” On both accounts he is right. I can switch whenever I want, and it won’t mean that I am a bad mother. On the other hand, I have put two months into breastfeeding and two more months into pumping. It would be a shame to give it up so easily.
When I went to P’s 4 month check-up, I had hit rock bottom. I went into that room thinking that I was going to ask her about switching to formula. We went through P’s stats, and she asked the big question, “Are you still breastfeeding, or has she been receiving any formula?” I told her that P stopped breastfeeding at 8 weeks, and I had been pumping ever since. The doctor smiled at me and went on to say that she admired me so much for the commitment that I was making to my child. She told me what I was doing was harder, in many ways, than breastfeeding naturally. I am sure to her, she just thought that she was giving me a simple compliment, but to me it meant a lot more. She had empowered me to fight through for another day.

As a mom, there are so many days that we can feel defeated. For one reason or another—things are just hard. Therefore, any day when someone seems to give you clarification that what you are doing is right—it is a damn good day. Validation is powerful for mothers like myself. Every once in awhile I get that validation from a friend, stranger, or doctor—and it helps give me the strength to make it to the next day. Sure, It would be easier to give it up. Believe me—I think about it every single day. Today, I thought, “maybe I will stop at 6 months.” It’s that little trick that I used to use when I was working out. Only five more minutes, then I can stop. Well, only two more months then I will stop. Honestly, I may make it to 6 months and think, “maybe I will stop at 9.” Whatever works, right? Or—perhaps I will stop next week, tomorrow, Saturday. I really don’t know.

Where are my other exclusive pumpers out there? How did you handle it?

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