Have you ever found that a default or defect in one situation was actually an asset in another? It can be a really rewarding experience.
I’m one week into pumping. I never planned to pump but my run-in with mastitis made it necessary; it’s not a good idea to let milk sit stagnant in one’s breasts when one is trying to prevent another infection.
I started pumping 6-7 times a day, just like the doctor ordered. When I was home this was possible, just barely. When I started going out and doing things, it became less so. When I found myself alone more with both children it became impossible.
Now I pump four times a day. This isn’t great when one is trying to prevent mastitis but it seems to be keeping the infections at bay. I do make sure to fully empty each breast, massaging the tissue until nothing is left. I suppose that is enough right now.
The incredibly news is how much milk I make pumping only four times a day. Currently I’m making over 30 ounces, more than enough to feed my breast milk exclusively. I have one more week before I am able to start weening myself, and that process is due to take a long time. I may just keep pumping for the duration of my maternity leave, giving Monito breast milk via a bottle until I go to work. I may even keep pumping after that.
I never thought I’d be an exclusive pumper. Reading about others who did so I felt an incredibly amount of admiration. I was also incredulous. How could anyone tie themselves to a pump a certain number of times a day for week or months on end? I was sure I could never do that. But now that I see how much I can make pumping just four times a day, it seems silly to walk away. Finally my oversupply, which caused such problems when we were breastfeeding, is an asset. It feels good to have something negative become a positive. Pumping this much milk makes me feel good about my body again, and that is a valuable thing.
So for now I plan to pump. I have come to a place of absolute acceptance about giving my baby formula so I don’t think I’ll be tied to the pump out of guilt later on. If it gets to be too much, or I just don’t want to do it anymore, I will stop. For now it feels like the best of both worlds: I get to bottle feed my baby breast milk. And I’m saving money!
Of course there are some draw backs. I still have to pump 4-5 times a day. Pumping is no fun and even if I’m only doing it an hour a day total, it’s still an hour of my life dedicated to something I don’t really enjoy. And there are the dishes. My poor hands are so chaffed from all the bottle and pump-part washing. And of course there is the physical discomfort; at the end of a six hour space between pumping session I am FULL and it is uncomfortable. Plus there is the random let downs I have to endure (I hate that feeling) and the nursing pads I have to wear. I also have to make sure that I will be able to pump when I need to, which requires foresight and planning. In my sleep deprived state, those can be hard to come by.
For right now, I feel the pros outweigh the cons. I have to pump to one more week anyway and from there I’ll take it day by day. I only have six more weeks of maternity leave left so I’m guessing I’ll make it through that time relatively easily. After I go back to work I’ll have to see how I feel.
I’m so glad that this mastitis happened when it did, that I realized exclusive pumping was a possibility for me. It really does feel like the best fit for me at this time.