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The Reason I Pump

**I get asked a lot to share my breast feeding story. To share my success with pumping so long and any tips and trick I have. But mostly it’s more of “why in the world would you want to pump for two year?” Here is where we start:


I didn’t always want to pump.

My mom breastfed me about 3 months. She went back to work, and switching to formula was just what you did then. My coworker breastfed her first little girl for 4 months before she dried up and switched to formula. A family member tried in the hospital to get her baby to breastfed and was unsuccessful, she gave him a bottle of formula right away.

These were my only real life encounters with breastfeeding before I had Miles. This was it. It was all I knew, and all I thought I needed to know.

I went into it knowing how badly I wanted to try to breastfeed, but I had a plan that I’d probably switch to formula after 4 months because that worked great for her. It was a great laid out plan that I felt very comfortable with.

I horded those free samples* of formula. I loved getting them at dr’s appointments, and in the mail. It was great. I looked at pumps. I knew everything there was to know about every pump ever made. (I’m a bit of an over researcher…. k?)

When he was born, he nursed like a champ. It was so easy. I remember when the nurse would come in to ask when the last time he ate was and I would say “He’s still eating.” Seriously, he would stay latched for HOURS at a time. Our favorite thing to do was to watch movies at home. I could watch 2 movies while he nursed.


Day 3: (home from the hospital)

My milk came in. I was miserable. He was starving. I was a mess. I cried and cried and cried. I would feed him, Aaron would take him and try to put him asleep. 30 minutes later he’d bring him back and say “I think he’s hungry.” I would angerly snap back at Aaron, “How can he be hungry, he just ate for an hour??”

On the way home from his doctors appointment that day I made Aaron stop at the Lactation store. We were getting our pump. Little did I know that pump would become my best friend, and the person (thing?) I would end up spending the most time with.

I started pumping, mostly to sleep longer.

When my sister came to town to help us out for awhile I had to wake me to feed him, then realized I could just wake up in the middle of the night, pump and she could feed him.

It was only a couple days later when both her and Aaron agreed that he did SO much better at night with a pumped bottle. He did better without me.

Being so deep in PPD I was fine with that. It worked better for me too. So I pumped. It was great for all of us.

I returned to work less than 3 weeks after he was born. I’d pump every two hours at work, get home, sit down with him on the couch and he’d breastfeed until we went to bed. Seriously.

We kept up these one time a day nursing sessions for quite awhile. Every once in awhile he’d let me squeeze in another if we were out and about with no bottle, or super engorged boobs. Mostly, It was just once a day.

“4 months. I can do this” I’d remind myself of that often. But by this point I began to find friends through blogging that breastfed for WAY longer than I ever imagined. And I like the idea.

Then that faithful day came around 4 months when we discovered all of Miles’s allergies.

My first instinct was to panic. What would he eat? Surely I can’t keep pumping for him. I got our all my samples of formula. He couldn’t eat any of them so in the garbage they went. I called and got samples of “special” formula and tried to feed him those. He wouldn’t drink them. I panicked more. Terrified of what he would eat.

Never stopping to realize, I had everything he needed.

As the months went on we learned that his allergies went on and on and on. I panicked more, my supply plummeted. I wasn’t making anywhere near enough to feed him now. And to make matters worse, my diet was slashed. Everything I loved to eat was gone because he was so allergic to it. I had to live in a world with no dairy, no eggs, no soy, and no peanut butter. AND keep up my calories so I could still feed him.

I calmed down.

I sat down with myself and realized, He is my son. I will do WHATEVER I can to protect him.

God gave him to me to protect. I promised Him I would do that. No cheese, or peanut butter cookie is going to do that for me.

So I did. I stopped eating all of the things that were making him sick. I committed then and there that I would pump until he was at least 2. Until he’s at least 2 he will have breast milk to drink. Not, “I might” or even “I’m going to try” I WILL.

It has been the farthest thing for easy, but I will do it and I continue to do it because he is MY SON. I will protect him. I will do anything I have to for him.

I have friends walking this slippery slop with me. Feeling so alone. Like no one understands them. One is just starting. I talk to her a lot on the phone. Answering what questions I can, pointing her in the right directions, just letting her vent. (because I KNOW how much that is needed.)

She said something to me.

“I don’t know how to do this..” (she’s 4 months in)

I replied,

“I don’t have a choice.” She told me that wasn’t good enough for her. There had to be an answer. There has to be something she can do. What my heart was screaming and what I should have said was

“How can I not?”

If Miles needed my arm, I would give it. I don’t care what he needs. I have it, and he can take it from me.Especially when it come to feeding him. Is that not my #1 job as a mother? Keep my children safe, fed and happy?

How can I not?

He is my reason. I am all he can have. How can I not provide that for him?

It’s not selfless, its not a huge sacrifice. To say I choose cheese or yogurt over my son? I could never do. I have had pain (not as bad as hers, but still I have had pain.) and I would be in pain every day to still provide for him. I know we’re unique because Miles literally has nothing else he can drink. Nothing. Breast milk is his only option. So really. I don’t have a choice. What I told her is right, but I don’t want a choice.

*****************************

I am now on month 17 of pumping. Miles stopped nursing around 9 months old. Before that he would only do it about 4 times a week. I am going to make it to December pumping. He will be 2 then. Only then will I reevaluate. Who knows, I may go longer.

*********
Edited to add: I made it to 25 months!!!! Miles was 25 months old when I stopped pumping for him. The only reason I did was so I could get started on my surrogacy journey. I never regretted one second of my decision to pump for that long. It was HARD. but  I am so proud.

*Those free samples of formula deserve a WHOLE post to themselves. In the mean time go read THIS post where she starts talking about it!

Please know, that I KNOW that every person is different. Every situation is different. What’s right for me is not right for you. What worked great for you might not work for me.
I love this friend dearly. I know her struggle. I remember being totally and completely freaked out in her shoes. I remember so well. I know how she feels. She feels trapped and so did I. Now I don’t, and I know she soon will feel that peace. It takes time.

Comments

  1. LutherLiz says:

    You go girl. It is hard, but you are right, it is worth it. And how would you choose any food over your son. You rock!

  2. Deborah says:

    I know you say you do it because you have to, but I still think you deserve a huge pat on the back!! Many moms wouldn't make that same commitment that you have.

  3. Wow. I repeat the sentiments here. You rock! I detested pumping and I don't know if I would have given up if I were in your situation. But you didn't! YEs, every mom is different, and you are exactly the mom Miles needed. (I found you through Adventures in Babywearing!)

    ~Cheers,
    Vina

  4. emily bilbrey says:

    i just found your blog via twitter, and wanted to stop by and say what an amazing job you're doing! also? i exclusively pumped for my daughter for 8 months! thought i'd send my story your way in case you were interested – i always love hearing about other pumping mamas! (:

    http://poppymilkface.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/a-tale-of-two-bewbies/

    great job mama! glad to have found you. cheers!

  5. You=amazing.

  6. Found you though OMama and I totally hear ya! My two year old had a milk allergy and I could eat absolutely no dairy while nursing her. I breastfed her till she was 14 months and then switched her to rice milk which she loves. At first it was hard to go without dairy but I felt just like you, really am I going to eat this pizza and make my baby's tummy hurt? I also loved that she sucked the weight right out of me. I now have a 5 month old who has no known allergies which sure is nice but I wouldn't have changed anything! Go girl!

  7. This is just wonderful! I was hugely committed to nursing my three babies, which also meant pumping b/c I work too. I only pumped to a year b/c they were able to take regular milk at that point. It does take a HUGE amount of dedication and I would moan and groan about it and stress about having enough milk for them–but I was still committed. It seemed like many around me gave up too.
    What a wonderful start you are giving your son and what a wonderful sacrifice. I'm glad I stumbled on your blog.

  8. Grace @ Arms Wide Open says:

    wow! that is awesome! Pumping is exhausting. i pumped 1 x a day for about 10 months.. just to make more milk. it is hard work. good for you!

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