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!)