Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pumping, Permission & Parenting

It's my first Theme Thursday participation. Breastfeeding. Every woman seems to have their story to tell: it was hard, it was easy, it didn't work, not appealing, painful, wonderful--on and on. I've never shared my thoughts or experiences in written form. Likely because it can be kind of controversial and because so incredibly personal. It's time.

Breastfeeding 101: it hurt. Like toe-curling, draw in a deep breath, and work through the pain for the first minute or two of each nursing session for the first three-ish weeks. I'm pretty sure that having anyone sucking on any part of your body for hours--hours--a day is going to hurt. THAT'S natural, not that whole "it comes easy and feels great"--that stuff is a myth that likely stops lots of people from nursing.

So I nursed. Two kids who had major difficulty gaining weight (the 3rd fits that category, too, in case you were wondering). And the first pediatrician we saw left me feeling guilty, like I failed. That my breastfeeding had caused a problem. And like many first-time nursing mothers, this crippled me, wounded my faith in my ability to feed my child. I gathered my courage (armed with knowledge & encouragement from a knowledgeable Lactation Consultant) and I left that doctor. Empowering and freeing. You can read about why that might work for you here.

This LC helped me perfect my pumping regimen (can you say hands-free?) and off to work I went. Faithfully closing my doors and eee-err, eee-err, away I went. Three or four times a day. Here's the thing: three or four pumping sessions led to maybe one bottle for my baby for the following day.

At six-ish months with Monkey, I was done. I gave up the pump. Freedom. Rinse and repeat with my sweet baby girl. I hoped and prayed that my boobs would suddenly learn the pump was friend, not foe. Nope. Dismal pumping results with a baby who gained weight slowly. Depressing.

Enter Bonus Baby. I did something empowering. I divorced the pump. I gave myself permission to leave that evil contraption behind. AND I continued to nurse my baby at home. I know that there are plenty of people who say that I'm probaby just not doing it right, but let me tell you I gave it a good college try with the first two and I was done hooking myself up to the milking machine. I AM SO GLAD I DID. I found a way to make formula-feeding during the day and breast feeding at home work.  My boobs adjusted because our bodies are amazing.  Win.

I had a friend tell me, after sharing her own experience with the breast pump (read: bloody milk) and she said the most profound statement to me, one I have shared with every new mother in the years since.

She said, "My worth as a mom is not soley defined by how I feed my child, but that I feed them when they are hungry and nurture them with love."
I try to keep this in mind, as the weight of not doing the 'best thing' weighs on me. I did breastfeed and I like it, but I did it on my terms. Breastfeeding at home in the evenings, the wee hours, first thing upon waking and then letting the natural formula do it's magic during the day. I wish I was like my sister, super milk-producer, but that's just not me. And that's okay. I'm no less a mom. I share of of this in hopes maybe, just maybe, another mom is freed from the weight of the pump when the cost isn't worth the return.

If you would like to see what others have written about breast feeding, please click the Theme Thursday link below.


Jenn @ Something Clever 2.0 said...

Those machines always scared me.

The Sleepy Bard said...

I too know the pump very well. :(

Claudia said...

God I hated pumping! I'm down to once a day at work and soon i'll be FREE!

A.B. said...

milk producer. yes. lover of the pump? no. Could it be crazy different this time? of course.

I think you do what you do and your babies will be fine... and not still on the boob at age 5.

Synnøve @ Dont Chew on the Dinner Table! said...

Medela is the devil... and didn't help AT ALL! We did the same thing with ours... formula by day and boob at night and it worked great. Nipple confusion my pale, hairless behind!

mod mom beyond indiedom said...

I was just going to say the same thing Synnøve! LOL Yeah, pumping is really weird. When I worked, I sat in the tiny office bathroom with that thing making those pumping noises like I had sub-woofers hooked up to my tweeters. Hated it. ;)

Courtneytcu98 said...

The things we do for our children! I ended up thinking the pump was talking to me. I totally would've kept going with it, had the return been better. And yeah, nipple confusion hasn't been a problem for any of my three kids--I really only think it happens with kids with a feeding issue

Stephanie @ Mommy, for real. said...

Hated that pump. My favorite line was "my boobs adjusted because our bodies are amazing." Yep, you can make any scenario work out for the best- things don't have to be black and white...