I’m going to change things up for a second and go off on a topic that a lot of people/Moms, don’t touch on as often as they should for one reason or another. Being as last week was National Breastfeeding Week, I saw a lot of posts of Moms and their Babies having that bonding experience and it got me to thinking of us Moms that are Exclusive Pumpers, EP. Sometimes we get overlooked from that “I breastfeed my baby” clique, when really, we do too…
For most, if not all, EPing is not something we choose over direct breastfeeding. It’s not really a choice at all. We want to give our babies the most natural food we can with the most benefits and this is the way we have to do it. Here’s my story…
I gave birth to my little man March 16, I was 40 weeks and 2 days. He was immediately put skin to skin and I tried to nurse him. It all seems like a blur from those first few hours. Over the next couple of days, nurses and Lactation Specialists were in and out of our room trying to get Brandon to latch and nurse properly. We thought we were making steps towards this mommy/baby bond when in reality we weren’t. I was given a pump in the hospital to help stimulate my milk to come in since the lack of nursing was hurting in more ways than one. One night, the nurse suggested we try just a 1/2 oz of formula just to fill his belly since he was just fussing constantly. Looking back, I wish I knew more and wish we didn’t cave in so soon. But would that have helped him figure out nursing? Who knows.
Slowly, he was taking more and more formula and losing more and more interest in wanting to feed from me. My milk was taking forever to come in. We went home. We went to the pediatrician. We met with the Lactation Specialist. We had plans and goals. We went home. Brandon wasn’t gaining weight. It was becoming more stressful. I was trying everything I knew how, Kevin was trying everything he could to help me. We gave him more formula. It was just one bad time after another and I was spending my time focusing on lack of feeding my child than I was actually enjoying him…which looking back kind of breaks my heart. No wonder why he was crying, he was hungry! He wasn’t getting anything from me. I started pumping more. He was getting more formula. My milk was slowly coming in, but not nearly enough to quench his hunger. Two weeks into being a Mom and I was not enjoying it. I was crying all the time and just miserable. There’s not something or someone to be mad at. After calls to my LS and trying different things, I came to the realization I was going to be an EP. But I still didn’t really know what that meant or what I was doing. I didn’t feel well informed. I pumped. Fed my baby and went about my day. At night, Kevin and I both got up, he fed Brandon while I pumped. I didn’t get that bonding time. It hurt.
Brandon started gaining weight. We starting backing off on formula. I started producing more milk. I would do a power hour (no, not like those college days). I became happier, I started enjoying my new life. Unfortunately, weeks had passed that I will never get back. I look back and wished I was more informed about things, was happier, and had more help. I could have gotten caught up in the moment with my new baby boy rather than stressing about how he was going to get fed next.
So, we pump. We pump any chance we get. Baby naps, we pump. Baby’s awake, we pump. Baby’s crying, we pump. Guests come visit, we pump. We go out for the day, so does our pump. I’ve pumped at parties. I’ve pumped at weddings. I’ve pumped at graduations. I’ve pumped in the backseat of a car going the cemetery for a funeral. If I forget an attachment, I’m screwed. If we forget the car inverter, I’m in pain and engorged. It sucks. It’s not easy. Those middle of the night pumping sessions alone. I sit there. No one to talk to. No little face looking up at me. Just me and my motor. The countless hours dreading that pump. Staring aimlessly at my phone. It’s hard. I’d give anything to throw in the towel. But I don’t want to. This is my life. This is how I am feeding my baby. We have supplemented too, I’m not ashamed.
I’m not that person who feels very strongly that “I have to breastfeed my baby, there’s no other way”. I wanted to give myself and my baby the chance to do something that is natural. If that didn’t work, then it didn’t work. The only thing I have against formula is that it’s expensive as WHOA. Luckily, we have only been through two tubs in 5 months. We just used one up last week and I am not buying more. It’s milk and solid from here on out. Did I ever set myself a goal as to how long I would nurse? No. Do I now? Nope. I’m taking this one day at a time. I never thought I would last this long and I am over the moon proud of myself. Would I like to last a year? Maybe. I have a small stockpile of milk in the freezer but not enough to even last a week. I have had a small supply which means I pump at night for the day and day for the night..sometimes just barely getting by. Now that Brandon has started food, he needs his bottle a little less which means I can pump my normal schedule and have a little leeway.
No one chooses this. We shouldn’t be looked down upon, or forgotten about because we don’t directly nurse our babies. Why should it matter how they’re being fed or what they’re being fed? It should be no ones business but your own. It hit me that there are more of us out there than I originally thought. That’s sad. If anyone needs the help and support its the Moms that have problems breastfeeding their babies. We can’t just take a casual day trip and pull out the boob whenever our babies get hungry. We have to plan everything within a 3-4 hour window. I’m so sick of “I can’t, I have to pump” coming out of my mouth.
I hope this has helped offer support to one Mom out there. Whether you’ve been through it or are currently going through it, keep going. Just focus on your baby and offering them something so beneficial for as long or short as you feel is enough. Even if you give them milk for a week, a month or a year anything is great and you CAN do this. And just think, anyone is able to feed them to give Mama a break.
Belated Happy I Give My Baby Breastmilk Week. I feel like last week really made me think about what I was doing and not just going through the motions day in and day out. As tiring and boring and frustrating and painful it is, I’m doing something great for Brandon and I wish it didn’t take me five months to sit back and really understand the goodness it has. It is something I feel passionate about and didn’t even realize just how much of an impact Exclusive Pumping has on me, my life and my family. It’s the only thing I know. For Moms who breastfeed, good for you and I would NEVER think badly towards you or feel envious or jealous. I give so many props to Moms who can direct nurse their babies. For pumpers, find other Moms doing the same and get the support. You may feel like a cow hooked up to a machine….but in the long run it’s worth every moan and groan. Honestly, pumping is my life and sometimes I wonder if direct feeding is even for me. Either way, I’m taking everything a day at a time and just enjoying Brandon’s every breath.