Burn the Breast Pump!

I've had this post written for a while now but have been hesitant about posting it. I don't want this to be a ranting, bitching blog. But I think it's an important topic and one that's seldom talked about (exclusive pumping). So I thought I'd share my journey, here goes...

I'm just about ready to do as the title says and burn my breast pump! Seriously. As I mentioned in the previous ranting post, I've been exclusively pumping for about 3 months and pumping from the get go. I've had a hard time finding much info from other mama's who've had to exclusively breast pump so I thought I'd share my story. Now before I begin, this post is probably going to be TMI so if you don't want to hear it, feel free to fast-forward past this post because there is going to be a whole lot of boob talk.

I started the breasfeeding journey with childlike enthusiasm. I went to the classes, read a bunch of stuff and even watching some educational videos. I really thought 'why do women make such a big deal about breastfeeding?! It's how nature intended you to raise your baby! Nature will take care of it. I got this- NO problem!' HA! Joke was on me!
I'm adding in completely non-relevant pictures to make this post a little lighter, ha!
My bf journey was rocky from the start...thanks to a very swollen post c-section body, way too many hospital visitors, not enough bf time, some nipple weirdness and a very high pallet in Autumn's mouth. In recovery, the doula helped baby A latch right away and actually got some good stuff in her (so we thought) but that was the first and last time we really did well in the nursing department. I had the lactation consultants come in several times while we were still in the hospital. They busted out all their big guns: nipple shields, formula to help get her latched, every position in the book...you name it, we tried it! My milk hadn't come in at this point either and Autumn was starting to lose weight. They had me feeding her every hour to two hours which meant she was at the breast constantly! For all I knew she was getting what she needed. She was latching (or at least it felt like it) and then she'd stay there for a while. We went home with the same instructions to feed her round the clock and I did just that.

At Autumn's first post-birth doctor's visit, we discovered she had lost a pound+ since birth. I stressed the importance of breastfeeding so they told me to nurse her, supplement with formula (boo!), and then pump. Prior to finding out she had lost so much weight, we had the.crankiest.baby.on.earth. We thought she hated us. But nope, she was just a huuuunnnnnggggrrrryyy gurl! Now, when she starts crying like she did in those wee baby hours, we tell her 'we're sorry we were starving you those first few days, but we promise we won't do it again!'. LOL. Seriously, how are you supposed to know how much food they're getting?!

I was determined to stop the 1-1/2 hour insanity of nursing, bottle feeding then pumping, having a half hour break then doing it all over again. It was Exhausting (with a capital 'E') on top of recovering from a c-section and taking care of a newborn. I remember just crying those first days because I was so frustrated, exhausted and in pain. Anyways, so we went to the lactation consultants (yet again!) and we went through this whole process of discovering Autumn was only expressing 1oz of milk from me (insert: supply issues). They told me to stay on the same track because she was at least gaining weight, mostly from the formula.They told me to take this nasty ass Mother's Milk. Which tastes nothing like milk, or anything a human should even ingest. I had to make shots of it by mixing it with apple juice. But it gave me an excuse to use our shot glasses again! Long story short, we did this pattern of nursing, bottle feeding then pumping for about a month and a half. The bottle feeding and pumping was ok, but nursing was beyond hard. Autumn would just get so frustrated and started screaming or she'd get so annoyed she'd just fall asleep at the boob. So after much internal debating I made the tough decision to stop nursing and just pump exclusive. I figured she would still be getting the benefit of breasmilk without the frustration we were both feeling with nursing. Let me tell you, I debated this for weeks before I finally made the decision. I was afraid I would lose that closeness and bond that comes with nursing, that somehow I would screw her up and that I was a failure at the most basic mother-baby function. I realize now this thinking was a little more than crazy.

Fast forward 4 months...I'm still pumping. Autumn is still getting every ounce of breastmilk I can produce (which isn't a lot but it's better than nothing, right?!). I always swore I would not be one of those mom's who gave their child formula, bleh. But you know what? Shit happens. I wasn't about to let my baby starve and these boobies just ain't producing as much as her little growing body needs. She still gets mostly bm and we supplement with Enfamil Soy (we discovered she has a minor milk allergy after what we thought was colic and a bad rash, but the doctor is confident she'll grow out of it).

I pump about 5-6 times a day which equals out to every 3 hours or so. I dropped the middle of the night pump simply because it would take me 20 minutes to pump then I'd be wide awake for at least an hour leaving me very sleepy and cranky. Pumping at work is nothing less than awkward. I know, I know, it's a perfectly normal fact of life. But, it doesn't make dragging my oh-so-descreet little black bag to the ladies locker room where I remain for 20 minutes any less awkward. It does give me a chance to catch up on Emily Owen's MD (my favorite show!) and just have a break from work. But it's been increasingly hard to pump as I get busier and my boss relies on me more now that he knows I'm not going to drop a baby at any given second. But I keep pumping.

Now, supply issues. I typically produce a total of 2oz (except the first pump where I get about 3-4oz). My right boob works it's ass off and the left boob is just a lazy bastard. It's basically worthless at doing it's job of being a boob and usually doesn't even make a measurable amount of milk. Jerk. You can see from the beginning of this post where the supply issues began. Although, I'm not sure I wouldn't have had these problems even without all our other issues. Everyone kept asking 'did your milk come in' and proceeded to tell me about the tidal wave gush they felt when their milk came in. I never felt anything remotely like that. I really wasn't sure when my milk came in. To try getting my supply up we went to the lactation consultant, I read numerous articles and books on how to increase, did super pumps (pumping every hour), took Mother's Milk, Fenugreek pills, drank Nursing Tea, made lactation cookies (taste great, not certain they work), eat lots of oatmeal, I even got a prescription from my doctor (which helped while I was on the meds but went back low right after) etc. etc. etc. Seriously- you name it, I've tried it, twice. To no avail. Oh, and the 'myth' that breastfeeding will make you lose all your baby weight plus some, bullshit! I did lose the majority of my weight right away, mostly because I barely had time to eat. Ten+ baby pounds are still uncomfortably sticking to me. I recently started Weight Watchers to try shedding some more weight. The first week on WW, my already low supply was cut in half! I freaked and upped my points (according to WW guidelines) which got my milk back to it's norm. But now I've started to actually gain weight! Frustration Central! That's a whole other post.

Despite this roller coaster ride of breastfeeding, I continue to pump for Autumn. Some days (today!) I want to burn my breast pump and all it's annoying little parts and just be done with it. But I continue, because I'm her mom, it's my job, and I know it's the best thing for her. Even if she isn't getting bm exclusively, I figure it's gotta be better than nothing. Maybe if I was making more it'd feel easier. So there you have it. My exhausting breastfeeding story. I hope maybe it'll help someone in the same boat some day. It's not easy, but it's the best thing for the babe and that is THE only thing that matters!
One of my favorites! She's just too cute!
P.S. on a much lighter note...I am absolutely, positively OBSESSED with Baskin-Robbins Love Potion #31 ice cream! It has chocolate, raspberry and little raspberry chocolate filled hearts. I die! It's only around for the Valentines season and good thing or I'd eat it year round. I could seriously eat the stuff for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Oh and of course I couldn't just have it alone because it's best with a scoop of fudge ice cream, whip cream, nuts and a cherry (cue weight issues.) I've only had it once this year...maybe that's why I'm drooling thinking about it now. Sigh.

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