Posted on | July 17, 2012 | 9 Comments
It’s almost here…that’s right, our sweet Beebab is about to turn a full year old. The idea that my littlest is moving from infant to toddler is overwhelming, exciting, terrifying, and awesome all in one big bow.
I know…the cuteness is almost too much to take. So instead of bursting into tears, clinging to my husband’s pant leg, and begging for another tiny baby, I’m going to talk about what else this milestone means to me.
It’s finally time to end pumping. Weirdly enough, I feel a little bittersweet about the idea. If you’ll remember, I started pumping right around Arlo’s four month birthday due to a super long, desperately hard nursing strike. It has become a huge part of my life. For eight months, I’ve pumped every three hours during the day and once or twice a night. I’ve pumped twenty minutes at a time. I’m not good at math, but that sounds like a hell of a lot of time sitting around while a baby cries and your boobs are sucked in and out of torture device cones. Not to mention all the times I’ve had to clean and sterilize the pump parts. Hours out of every day have been dedicated to feeding my infant. I’m not sure if I’ve crazy, ridiculously frugal, or just stubborn, but I some how made it work.
Y’all? That was a huge job. And I did it. I saved us a couple thousand dollars. I never had to supplement formula. This doesn’t make me a “better” mom than anyone else. But I have to admit that I feel pretty proud that I set my mind to something and I did it.
With that being said, I have to give a few words of advice for mommies considering exclusively pumping. I’m no expert, clearly. But I’ve been there. I can wipe the sweat off my brow, toss my pump parts in the trash, and say, “Girl, pull up a chair. Let’s chat.”
Exclusively pumping isn’t easier than nursing (for the most part). It may seem like the quick fix when you’re battling sore nipples and latch problems. You can sit down with a pump, get the milk, feed the baby. Problem solved, right? But no. Try to be patient. Take the time to ask questions and fix your nursing problems. Talk with a Lactation Consultant. Get some help. Get some support. Pumping isn’t easier in the long run. It takes more time, the pump can be uncomfortable and cold in the middle of the night, and you’re more likely to have supply issues. I can’t tell you the number of times I frantically searched ways to build my supply with the pump. I can’t tell you how many tears I cried when I would pump just a couple ounces when I needed four and it meant spending more time sitting with my pump away from my family or company. Listen, I’ve done both. I’ve nursed exclusively (Sully refused bottles), and pumped exclusively. Nursing was, by far, more enjoyable. I know that the experience is different for everyone, but please, if you want to give breastmilk, if that’s important to you, give nursing a fair shot.
Nursing in public is cool. Pumping in public is awkward.
Now that I’ve verbally vomited all over pumping, let me also say; It isn’t impossible.
It’s isn’t some elitist goal that is too far-reaching for any mama. If you want to do it, if you set your goal to pump for x number of months, you can absolutely do it. Know that there will be frustrations and long nights. Know that you are not alone in being the first mom to sob when some milk gets spilled while you’re making a bottle at 3:00AM. Know that it will be okay if you don’t make it as long as you want, but also know that you can certainly make it happen.
Buy extra parts. It’s awesome to not have to wash them all the time. Stick your pump parts in the fridge after pumping. I did that every day and washed them at night. They will stay fresh throughout the day. Pump often. Pump for longer than you think you need to pump. Make it as enjoyable a chore as you can by hiding away in your room with your Kindle and a tall glass of ice water. Get away from the screaming kids for a minute if you can. If you can make it enjoyable, it can be your “escape” a few times a day instead of your torture. Go ahead and indulge in that glass of dark beer or red wine. They’ll help your supply, you know.
Don’t be too proud to ask for help. I found some of the best support and answers to my questions by reaching out on Twitter and Facebook. No one knows what you’re going through better than another mama. Ignore the nay-sayers who tell you it isn’t worth it or not a big deal to do. If you decide to stop on your own, that’s totally cool. Don’t let someone pressure you into giving it up if you still want to try.
With that, I want to thank each of you who offered me support, answers to my questions, and kindness when I felt close to losing it. This journey has not been one that I enjoyed every minute of, but looking back, it was worth it. I’m glad I hunkered down and did it. I don’t necessarily want to do it again anytime soon…but I sure am glad I can look back at the first year of Arlo’s life and see my success in exclusively pumping for him.