The Hamster Wheel of Pumping
Posted By: Jennifer Johnson
I didn't grow up around breastfeeding moms. In fact, I grew up making formula bottles for my little sisters.
I love breastfeeding. I really do. But I can't help but sometimes feel like it's a blessing and a curse at the same time.
I love looking at my daughter, her big plump cheeks, her thunder thighs, and her multiple rolls and smile -- knowing I did all of that. But at the same time every day I have a huge weight on my shoulders, feeling like her livelihood is dependent on my diligence.
Of course part of this is very true. I am her mother, I provide and care for her, I feed her and I'm raising her along with my husband. I am responsible for her.. But the pressure when I'm away from her at work, dealing with other duties, but still setting aside time to pump for her is getting overwhelming.
Before I leave for work I make sure my husband knows where our daughter's milk is for the day. Four out of five days of the week I have fresh milk for her, pumped from the day before (the other day I rotate frozen milk). There have been occasions where I haven't pumped enough the day before. Either I didn't have time at work to get in an extra session, or I just didn't pump enough. Then he pulls from our freezer stash, per my instruction, using the oldest first.
This hasn't had to happen on a regular basis but it has happened from time to time. And on each occurrence, it's caused me to have a slight breakdown.
In order to have enough milk for the following day I have to pump twice. At best it takes me 20 minutes from set up to take down with double pumping at work, and I feel like a slacker for being couped up in the makeup room twice a day, plus still taking my lunch break to go home and nurse her.
One day I wasn't able to make it home to feed her and found she ate the same amount I had stored in the fridge anyway. It may have been a fluke but I wonder if I take my lunch break to pump if it might be more efficient.
Right now I pump once at work then once before I go home, after my shift, or if Little J is already asleep, once when I get home from work.
After a day of hardly being able to pump my supply took a hit and it took some extra pumping to get it back up but I worry about having to do that often. I don't think I have the patience or the time. I feel like my worth is tied to how much milk I'm expressing and it's really getting to me.
I don't want to have to turn to supplements, or extra pumping sessions in the middle of the night. I've loved our breastfeeding relationship, and I don't want to lose that to the stress of playing keep up.
Now I am getting a little ahead of myself. Right now I'm doing great. My goal was to breastfeed through maternity leave. Once I started trying and saw how well that was working I made it my goal to exclusively breastfeed for three months. Now that I've achieved that goal I'm hoping to exclusively breastfeed until Little J starts solids.
Then, I picture myself able to give a huge sigh of relief. I sustained my baby on my own, and I can relax a bit more knowing she'll be getting a little something from her fruits and veggies too.
It's not easy being a mom, exclusively breastfeeding, and it can get even more difficult when you add pumping and working full time into the mix. But I know it's worth it for my daughter, and the responsibility I feel has gotta be a good thing, because it's gotten us this far, and it's gotten her this many rolls to show for it.4:40pm on Tuesday November 2
Congrats on achieving your goals and extending them. You are doing an awesome job... it is so hard sometimes to pump and work full time. But it is well worth it and sooner than you think she won't be nursing as much. Keep it up - you will look back on these days and feel so much pride that you did it.