I’ve been pumping for almost as long as Emme has been alive. When we first brought Emme home, she had some trouble gaining weight. We were struggling to breastfeed, but I was determined (in my postpartum haze of insanity) to make it work.
With the support of our pediatrician, I called a lactation consultant who helped troubleshoot our issues and provided us with a plan to overcome Emme’s lack of weight gain. The plan went something like: Breastfeed, pump, feed Emme a bottle with the pumped milk. Rinse and repeat.
Anyone who has been through the early days of breastfeeding knows that--even when it’s going well--it takes FOREVER. Like upwards of 40 minutes every two hours. So, if you breastfeed your little bug at 1 p.m., and you’re done at 1:40, you have approximately 80 minutes before you are supposed to put that baby back on the boob. Fun times. Well, add in pumping, and you just cut your time sans shit attached to your boob by a third. It sucks. Big time. And literally.
But, in my postpartum haze of insanity, it never occurred to me to give up. I’m really proud of myself for that, and I know it was totally worth it, but if I found myself in that situation again, I’m not sure I’d be able to do it. It was really, really hard.
Eventually, Emme and I overcame our challenges, and once the whole cluster feeding nonsense settled down, we’ve had a pretty fulfilling nursing relationship.
But then there’s pumping. Clearly, I’ve had my ups and downs with working full time and pumping, but from February through roughly April, I pretty much accepted my fate and just did what I had committed to doing.
And then May happened, and I lost steam. Work became very busy. We had some stressful family situations arise (OK, one stressful family situation, but that’s another story). I dealt with colds and allergies. And, I tried to drop from pumping three times a day to twice, which resulted in plugged ducts. By the end of May, my supply had tanked, I’m pretty sure I had a milk blister, nursing hurt like hell, and my attitude was shit. I dipped into my freezer supply again and again and again.
At this point, I could quit. Emme is 10 months, and that’s a pretty solid amount of time to commit to breastfeeding. Even if I kept breastfeeding, I could stop pumping at this point. Supplement during the day, nurse in the morning and evening. I know these things. I have told myself this time and time again.
But we’re so freaking close. Emme will be a year in 56 days. I only have to pump for 56 more days. I know it’s insane that I’m counting, and I don’t want to rush Emme out of babyhood, but I am ready to be done, especially with pumping. We’ll probably continue to nurse in the morning and evening for a little longer, but as rewarding as nursing can be, I don’t think I’ll go much past 12 months--I sort of have 15 months in my head as a hard stop. I’m looking forward to my body being my own for the first time in almost two years. I’m ready to stop planning my days and nights around nursing and pumping. I'm just... ready.