Friday, March 23, 2012

Confessions of a "sorta" breastfeeder: Part 2

As I write the "pumping" part of my experience the only thing running through my head is the Technotronic song "Pump up the Jam!"  You know, "pump up the jam, pump it up while your feet are stompin' and the jam is pumpin'...  Pump it up a little more, get the party goin' on the dance floor..."  Don't you love that song?!? 


:: crickets ::

Okay, okay, I'll stay on track. 

So now I was exclusively pumping and all was right in the world again.  Baby Boy was not frustrated and he was still getting all of the benefits of breast milk.  I was happy because I felt more in control and less helpless.  However, I did feel like the recruits from Full Metal Jacket and whenever they would say 'rifle' I would replace it with 'breast pump.'

Recruits: [chanting] This is my rifle breast pump. There are many others like it, but this one is mine. My rifle breast pump is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my rifle breast pump is useless. Without my rifle breast pump, I am useless. I must fire pump my rifle breast pump true...

Exclusively pumping was tricky.  I could never produce enough to store up my milk as it was all going to Baby Boy.  Plus, for whatever reason, my supply started to decrease.  On a good day I could get 3 - 5 ounces on each side but as time went on I was lucky to get 3 ounces on my "good side" and maybe 2 ounces on the other.  Baby Boy's appetite was increasing and we found ourselves supplementing with formula.

Pumping also took its toll on my beloved boobs.  Clogged ducts and swollen, aching nipples.  I thought I hated when my clothes would breeze by my nips before!  Yeeowza!!!  I even started to hate being tied to the machine.  I wished so badly that I could just scoop Baby Boy up, latch him on, and go about our day.  Instead there is an entire ritual that goes along with pumping.  The equipment, getting situated, keeping things clean, transferring the bottles from the pump to the fridge.  Praying that in your state of pure exhaustion that you don't trip or make a stupid move causing so much as a drop to spill.  But all of the hardships aside I was still committed and determined to hit my first goal of giving Baby Boy breast milk for 6 months.  Then I would shoot for 9 months, a year, and possibly beyond.

I was now approaching the end of my maternity leave and was gearing up to return to working full-time.  Back to an office consisting of me and two men.  Two men WITHOUT children.  One of the two doesn't even like kids, never wanted to have kids and doesn't understand why anyone would want to have kids.  He is my boss.

I had to devise a plan in order to keep pumping.  To make things worse there is not a good place for me to pump in the office or even in the building for that matter.  I could have gone into the ladies room but I couldn't bring myself to do it.  So my plan would consist of going to my parents house on my lunch break because they live about 8-10 minutes from the office.  It was quiet, clean and a relaxing place to pump.  By this time I had my body trained to pump first thing in the morning, once on a lunch break, once right when I got home from work and once before bed.  The plan was flawless.  This would be easy!

HA!  I had forgotten how unpredictable my lunch breaks really were.  It was going to be hard to have it at the same time every day.  Because, as you may know, you can't tell your boobs when it is time to pump, they tell you.  I would sit at my desk with boobs so hard a quarter would have bounced off of them just staring at the clock and rushing to get my work done so I could take my break.  I would race to my parents house, get my pumping station set up, stare at the clock because by the time I got started I really only had 15 minutes to pump before I had to stop, clean up, pack up and race back to work.  Often times I was cutting myself off from being completely depleted of milk.  The rest of my afternoon was spent uncomfortable and stressed because I knew I was screwing with my supply.

I'd race home after work and instead of getting to hold my son, kiss and play with him I had to go straight to the pump and go through the whole routine for a good 45 minutes.  Then I had to take care of prepping things for the next day, have dinner, feed Baby Boy his final bottle, put him to bed and pump one more time.

I wasn't sure how much longer I could keep up with this program and have any sanity.  By now I had provided my son with 3 1/2 months worth of breast milk.  I would lie awake in bed and go back and forth on whether or not I was done.  I would chat about it with my husband and he was always supportive of whatever I would decide... 

This was the end of the road for me.

I felt bad.  I felt conflicted.  I felt guilty for depriving my son of something so good and pure for him.  But conversely I felt a weight lifted from my shoulders and I felt like I had my body back.  This way I had time to spend with my son, a more clear and focused head at work and I could use my lunch breaks to relax and decompress.

I still let the guilt creep in at times.  Especially when I talk to my friend who has a baby two months younger than my son and she is still going strong with the breastfeeding.  My cousin just had a baby in December and she hasn't had any problems with it either.  Hearing other moms talk about how wonderful it is and how much they enjoy breastfeeding does make me a bit sad.  I wanted to enjoy it more and have that bonding experience with Baby Boy.

But alas, it doesn't matter.  I did a great job.  I did what was right for me and my baby and even though we didn't truly breastfeed for a very long time I still was able to form a strong bond with him.  I will say this though...  I would absolutely have done things differently if given the opportunity and I hope to do things differently if we are fortunate enough to have another baby.  Here is what will change:

  1. I will not always take what the doctors say as 'gospel.'  Even though they said we could start supplementing with formula I wish I had stayed calm about it and kept trying with the breastfeeding.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with formula or formula fed babies for that matter, but I had made a commitment to breastfeeding and I should have stuck with it.
  2. I would have sought out more help than just the free clinic at the hospital.  I would have attended La Leche League meetings or looked into the cost of having a lactation consultant come to the house.
  3. I would have contacted the office building's property manager to find out if there was a room in the building that I could have access to for pumping.  Turns out, there is!!  I just discovered it a couple months ago and it would have made for a much better work pumping experience.
At the end of the day it is most important to be informed so that you can make the best decisions for you and your family.  It is also important to do what you are comfortable with and don't do things differently just because someone else suggests it or because society projects it.  Breastfeed if that's your thing.  Bring on the formula and bottles if that's what gets your engines going.  Or if it's for you...

Pump up the jams! Pump it up while your feet are stompin' and the jam is pumpin'.... 

It's stuck in your head now isn't it?!?      Hello?     :: crickets ::

1 comment:

  1. You did a great job!

    ...pump it up a little more, get the party going on the dance floor...