Thursday, January 31, 2013

I'm so Effing Sick of Pumping

UG. Breastfeeding. Where do I even begin? I guess this will do: Breastfeeding Emme for a year has always been my goal. It's one of the (few?) mommy things I feel pretty strongly about. I don't feel strongly about it for other people. I think every mom (and dad) should choose the feeding path that is right for them (though I would encourage other new moms to try to get over the hump of early breastfeeding because it does, typically, get better). But for me, a year of breastfeeding is the goal.

And we're halfway there (Yay!).

But I am quickly losing steam when it comes to pumping at work (Boo!).

So, here I am, six months in (tomorrow!), having weathered the struggles of early breast feeding, I've come out the other side as someone who will honestly tell you that I enjoy nursing my baby. Pumping is another story.

Let me tell you this: Pumping sucks. OK. Pumping doesn't always suck. When you're home with your baby regularly, pumping can mean freedom, the ability to leave milk with someone else while you get a much needed, well-deserved break. But pumping as a long-term solution to such situations as working full time, sucks. Literally, AMIRITE?

I hate admitting this, and some days are better than others, but I am quickly losing steam when it comes to interrupting work three times a day to go hook myself up to a machine like a freaking dairy cow for 20 minutes. It doesn't sound like a long time, but when you factor in the preparing to pump, pumping, storing the milk, cleaning the parts, and making sure you've put yourself back together, the process can take upwards of 30, sometimes even 40 minutes.

I clearly have a pretty mean case of pumping fatigue. And the more I have started bitching about it, the more I have noticed a slight drop in my supply. I still just barely pump what my baby needs each day if I pump before I go to bed in addition to three times at work, but more and more, I honestly don't know if I can continue to pump for six more months.

So, I started asking myself this question--what is more important, starting to wind down on the pumping in an attempt to save my sanity or avoiding supplementing with formula?

Let's be real, my sanity cannot be saved.

But seriously, some days I'm sure the answer to that question is that continuing to feed Emme only breast milk (in addition to solids), is the answer (for me! Not necessary others!). Other days, I'm positive that my general outlook on life would benefit from pumping only twice a day (or zero times a day). Most of the time, I'm aware that all of the things I want (to pump less or not at all, to only feed Emme breast milk, and of course, to get Em to consistently sleep through the night without needing to feed her, but that's another story) might very well be incompatible goals.

Here are things I know, in my rational brain: Supplementing with formula would not be the end of the world--far from it. And yet, the irrational part of my brain, also known as most of my brain, has a mental block when I try to convince myself that it would be OK to pump less and supplement when needed.

And yet, we're not even there. Even with the decrease in my supply, I've rarely dipped into our freezer stock, so supplementing with formula isn't even something that would happen in the foreseeable future (my foreseeable future is approximately one day).

It's funny (not funny "haha," but funny "huh"), I was talking to two acquaintances a couple days ago, both of whom have had babies in the last three years. They both had no interest in pumping at work (which I totally get) and so they started supplementing with formula as soon as they returned to work. In the midst of complaining about pumping, I said something like, everyone I know has breastfed for a year, and weaned by about 15 months or so. And it's true! Not all of those people breastfed exclusively, but they all made it at least 12 months. One of them said to me, "I don't know anyone who breastfed that long. I guess it makes a big difference what the people around you are doing and what's considered normal."

It's true, I guess. I don't think peer pressure per say is a factor in my decision to breastfeed for a year so much as that, in my head, it's just what you do. And I don't want to quit breastfeeding. I know if I was able to nurse Emme more frequently during the week, I wouldn't even be having this conversation with myself (and the Internet). I just want to quit pumping.

So where do I go from here? I talked to a lactation consultant who gave me some direction on getting my supple up a bit. I decided that, for the time being, I will continue to pump three times at work. Once (and if) I can get my supply to be a bit more robust, if you will, I will drop one pumping session at work in the hopes that I will only lose an ounce or two. If this plan doesn't work, I'll reassess. I've also forced myself to have a better attitude about it, which really amounts to just not bitching constantly and not over-thinking it. I've noticed if I pump as soon as I get to work in the morning, rather than waiting an hour or so, I tend to get less annoyed when I have to get up from my desk.

Or, as the saying goes: Just do it. (Damn you Nike and your ubiquitous motivation slogan!)

4 comments:

GoddessLibrarian said...

Do you have a handsfree bra so you can continue to work or screw around on the internets while you pump? When I was working full time I would get up earlier, pump one side, then feed my son the other side before going to work. I always got more that way than anything I pumped at work. I think I was able to drop down to 2 pumping sessions at work. I managed to breastfeed him for 15 months, although at a year I just did the morning & bedtime feedings, stopped pumping & he had cow's milk during the day.

Lou said...

Thanks for the suggestions! I do have a handsfree bra, and surfing (do people still say "surfing?") the Internet is the only thing that keeps me sane while pumping at work.

I have thought about pumping before work, but it never occurred to me that if I did that, I might be able to pump twice instead of three times. The timing will be difficult (I already have the alarm set for 5:45), but it might be worth a shot.

Anonymous said...

While googling "Sick of pumping at work and need inspiration" I came across your post. I am exactly like you! My LO is 9 months now and I have been pumping 4 times during work, 20 minutes (of pumping) each session, for 6 full months. I am so tired of pumping, I feel like crying when I drag myself up to the pumping room. I tried cutting back to 2 (even 3) sessions, but I just don't make enough to give my LO exactly what he needs at daycare. I make about 13 ounces during work, and wake up at midnight to pump again to give him just enough for the day. It's exhausting!

I have contemplated supplementing with formula for about 3 months now but something in my mind keeps telling me "It's bad, don't do it!"

What was interesting to me though... one of the reasons I was absolutely determined to stick with it was there were so many women around me who said "I breastfed for a whole year," which in my mind meant they never used formula. But when I talked to them about the woes of pumping and asked how much milk they were able to get (to compare how much I was getting), all but one said "I never got enough at work, so I had to supplement." I was SHOCKED. Here I was so worried that I just was failing because I was barely producing enough for a day, and all these women I had been comparing myself with supplemented! Now what keeps me going, is that I am so proud to have exclusively breastfed for so long... I just want to make it to a year and be done pumping!

I hope you haven't completely lost motivation by now:)

Lou said...

Oh Anonymous, I can relate! Emme is 10 next week, and after dropping some pumping sessions (I'm almost through my freezer stock), I did pretty well for a few months not bitching my head off about pumping. I also decreased some of the milk she was getting per my pediatrician's recommendation. But now, I'm pumping 2x a day, and about 3 ounces shy of meeting Emme's needs while at daycare. And I've once again hit pumping fatigue again, and am questioning how to go about the next two months. But I'm (and you're) almost there! That's so encouraging. Anyway, if you ever stop by here again, I'm happy to commiserate.