When my first daughter was born, the labor and delivery were not at all what we were expecting. A long labor–turned c-section–wasn’t really the delivery I was hoping for, but we got our baby girl in the end, so it was all worth it. Despite being so tired, I could hardly stay awake. However, my daughter nursed right away in the recovery room like a pro. She continued to do so throughout the entire hospital stay. Prior to the delivery the biggest advice I received from all my mom friends was to take advantage of the lactation specialists – so that’s what I did. I called them to watch every feeding just to make sure things were going right. They assured me each time that we were perfect. I was feeling pretty great at this point… I had my brand new perfect baby, I had a shower, just popped a Percocet, and was finally eating some regular food… life was good.
We went home the next day and reality sunk in. Good reality. We had this precious little baby and nothing can quite describe the joy I felt that day… until 2:00 am rolled around. Up until 2, our feedings were going great. At 2:00 am, she would start nursing, then immediately pull off. Thinking she wasn’t hungry, we waited until 4:00 am when she would do the same thing, except this time screaming bloody murder and refusing every which way I tried. Something was wrong, and by 5:00 am, I had my husband downstairs sanitizing every bottle, nipple and pump part we had, while I was googling every reason of why my baby wouldn’t nurse. After sobbing my eyes out from the feeling that my baby despised me, I hooked up and started what would be one of the closest relationships I was going to have for the next 9 months of my life.
After two weeks of offering the boob to the baby just to have her scream–and several consultations with lactation specialists over the phone later–I decided that maybe nursing wasn’t for us. Pumping was going great, though. My schedule was then to pump every two hours, which I would rack up a total of 8 oz already the first few weeks after each pumping session. My baby loved the bottle, and I hated it. I hated the cleaning of it and the fact that it replaced me. Watching my friends easily nurse was really hard. I felt like I was chained to this pump and after hearing complaints about having to pump every few days – I couldn’t take it! I pump every two hours and then I have to wash each tiny pump part, bottle, and nipple just to re-do it all over again in about 30 minutes! I ordered every type of adapter I could. For work, I traveled a lot around town, and I would often pump in the car. Life-saver? The hands free bra. And as I was maybe a little bitter about the pump, I was determined to give my babe the best she could have. While I know some who nursed easily, I also knew those who didn’t produce milk at all.
My scheduled life
Pumping was not easy and it was not fun. I did it for my baby and that was it. When I went back to work my schedule was:
5:00am > first pump of the day
7:30am > pump before work
9:00am > first pump break at work
11:30am > lunch pump
1:30pm > afternoon pump
3:30pm > last work pump
5:30pm > evening pump at home (or in the car wherever I may be)
7:30pm > late pump
11:00pm > one more before bed
2:00am > wake up to pump depending on comfort
Because of my obsession with keeping my milk supply up, I look back and realize I pumped way too much. It caused me to overproduce which then caused me to have continuous clogged ducts and three rounds of mastitis. After 6 months I really backed off on my strict 2-3 hour rule and went more for a 4-5 hour session. I stayed with exclusively pumping for 9 months. I had enough milk to feed to my baby until she was 13 months old – and that is something I’m still so proud of.
Pump with love
After this happening all over again after baby number 2, I was determined to figure out the issue. I reached out to some newer local resources and found the problem was my let-down. It was happening right away, meaning I was basically drowning my baby. With my second, I exclusively pumped for eight weeks before offering again and she latched! She could handle it, and from then on, I finally got to experience nursing. The moral of the story is – looking back on my struggles of those nine months with my first daughter when my time was consumed by being attached to a pump – it was my first experience realizing you do anything you can for the well-being of your children. When I could give her the best, why allow anything to stop me? To all you EPM (exclusively pumping mamas) out there, I see you. The time, the commitment, the side-effects and the love… oh the love. Pump with love I say.
How do you power through feeding when sleep and time are scarce? We’d love to know.