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I did absolutely nothing to celebrate Halloween this year so I guess that is all I’ll be doing to celebrate it here. I did take Isa to get her photo taken in her peacock costume and I will post that as soon as I can buy a digital copy of it.
I realized that I since my thrush episode(s) I have not written much about breastfeeding on my blog. I think that is because breastfeeding is no longer an all-consuming part of my life. We’ve finally fallen into a routine (every three hours) that works for us and while I’m a little concerned that Isa is not getting enough to eat in the six (really it’s 5.5 because the last feeding is so close to the penultimate feeding that she can’t be getting 5 ounces) daily feedings, I’m trying not to let PTSD from the lactation consultant get to me and am assuming that my baby girl, who seems happy and looks healthy, is doing fine.
So for right now our breastfeeding situation is working pretty well and I have to say, now that she isn’t eating every other hour, my nipples hardly even hurt anymore. But, sadly, I return to work in four weeks and because I plan on continuing to breastfeed my daughter while at work (at least for a little while), I need to get a stock pile ready before my return.
For this reason, and because my daughter sleeps for ten hours straight now, I’ve started to pump nightly, before bed. Let me just say, I don’t love pumping. It’s a lot of work before, during and after, and the ritual adds about 30 minutes to my bedtime routine. That is 30 minutes I’d rather spend doing pretty much anything else besides pumping.
I know the medical establishment would have me believe that breast milk is the BEST thing I can give my baby (though there is very little actual research that truly proves this) and that by NOT pumping for her at work I’m condemning her to a less successful life on pretty much all fronts. I don’t really believe that. I’m a firm proponent of the mother’s happiness = baby’s happiness philosophy and that the benefits of breastfeeding should not be held, unwaivering and untouchable, over the well-being of the mother who is giving constantly and continually of herself (her body, her time and her limited resources) to make breastfeeding possible.
Right now, pumping at night is merely annoying. I have to take out the pump (as our kitchen is too small to leave it out all day), attach the power supply and tubing, take off my shirt, put on the make-shift pumping bra (that I fashioned myself with scissors and two x’s drawn on the nipples of an old workout bra), take out all the valve pieces and put them together (which is a puzzle in and of itself), connect the valves to the pumps and press the button. Then I have to achieve let down, and if I don’t do that pretty quickly, I know it will elude me unless I stop the pump, give my nipples a chance to sensitize again, and start all over.
Next I actually do the pumping. As my nipples stretch a good inch and a half and the monotonous drone of the motor whispers to me mysteriously, insignificant amounts of milk drip slowly into two bottles, slowly, eventually pooling into 2-3 ounce quantities. In my bovine-like state, I can do little of any substance (but, some would cry, pumping is substance enough!). Sometimes I read a magazine or the latest book I’ve been carting, dog eared, around my house, but it’s difficult to concentrate when (I swear) the whir of the pump motor is communicating with me subconsciously.
Finally, when I’ve massage every last drop out of both breasts and they hang, flacid, from the weight of the full bottles, I turn off the machine and unhook the tubing only to turn it on again (ah the whirring will drive me batty), to combat the small droplets of condensation taking up shop in the plastic tubes.
While the pump sucks furtively, slowly drying the tubes, I transfer the liquid gold into disposable bags complete with date and amount scrawled in Sharpie, before depositing them carefully into the freezer. There my pumping efforts will remain until the stockpile is needed to supplement what I pump at work or is thawed in cases of emergency.
The clean-up is, of course, the worst part. I have to do any dishes in the sink and wipe it down before cleaning out all the tiny pump pieces and placing them carefully on the drying rack. If I don’t wash the pump parts that night they won’t be dry by the following session… and, as the pump instructions chide, wet pump parts are a definite no-no. Despite being bone tired and knowing Mi.Vida is waiting in bed, I have to wash all those little parts before I can turn in for the night.
As for my pumping plans at work, I’m still very much on the fence about committing to pumping. I will definitely pump until the Winter Break, which is only a three weeks commitment and will bring Isa past the 6 month mark. If I’m totally miserable after that, I’ll just ween Isa in the New Year. If it’s not so bad, I’ll keep doing it and reassess at the February Break and then at Spring Break and so on. I don’t want to have any hard and fast deadline I feel obligated to meet. I have very little time, and NO flexibility, to pump at work and doing so will keep me isolated from my friends and colleagues, which are first and foremost the reason I love my job. Going back will already be so difficult, confining myself in my room during my only breaks will make it even worse; I truly worry I will need support from my peers when I return from work and I will be unable to receive that if I’m cooped up in my classroom with only my pump to comfort me. So I’m not letting pumping at work stress me out.
The good news is with all the pumping I’m doing now, I’ll have quite a bit of breast milk stored up. And if I do decide to stop pumping at work I might be able to stretch out my stock pile to cover about a month of breastfeeding while not pumping to keep up my supply.
Of course, myriad things could happen, like I might not have time to pump and my supply will gradually decline. Or Isa might decide she loves the bottle and won’t have anything to do with the breast. If either of these things happen, I’m going to let nature take it’s course and not fight against the inevitable. I’ve been pretty lucky with breastfeeding thus far and want to end the experience happily, and not angrily, or regretfully.
Until that time, I’m trying to take in every minute I have breastfeeding my baby. I know these moments with her are limited and I want to enjoy them while I can. For the next four months I will consider every feeding to be a gift, one that I treasure and never take for granted.
BUENAS NOTICIAS – Isa met her aunt this weekend, the aunt who will be her nanny in a short month. Of course they loved each other and while it was bitter sweet to see them get along so famously, I was very happy knowing that my SIL will be with her every day while I’m away.