When I had my first child (Grant) I was so excited to just meet him and was just overjoyed and thought since he latched on right away in the hospital and at home that pumping would be a breeze. I am a teacher and it was mid July so I wasn’t really worried about the need to pump right away, but I knew that a few weeks before I went back in October I wanted to start trying it so I could start saving milk for the nannies and caregivers when I went back to work.
I remember this moment as if it just happened yesterday (although this was over 4 years ago) because it was tremendously defeating, depressing, and humiliating. I remember putting him to bed at some random hour of the middle of the night. I was alone in my family room sitting on the floor as I put these awkward cups on my oversized well beyond DDD breasts. As the pump started doing its “job” I felt like a cow and as nothing came out for over 10 minutes, I just sat and cried. I remember telling myself “You have carried these large boobs around your whole life, wanted a breast reduction in your early 20s and was told by doctors to wait until after having kids, and these “things” should work since they are so big. You have friends with barely A’s and they can pump A TON!” After several phone calls to mommy friends, multiple trips to the doctor, and many different “mother’s milk pills” of sorts, I still didn’t feel like it was working. So frustrating because when he would feed off me I could feel it coming out very well and my baby was satisfied.
Then the day came to return to work, yay, some time alone, but oh no, pumping at school in between recess and lunch. This is crazy in itself as I teach special education and my schedule is crazy. Didn’t work out so well pumping under my desk, in a dark corner, forgetting to lock my door sometimes (because my brain was mommy mush) while yelling at students to CLOSE THE DOOR, and after 15 minutes of pumping getting barely 1-2 oz out. Then more tears! Back to more mommy friend calls, being told to relax, take a picture of your baby to work as you pump, and more “magic pills” to try. There were also several times that I forgot my power cord at school and/or milk in the school fridge and called my teacher friends who lived close who stayed later to bring them home so I could get what I had forgotten.
After 6 months of torture I finally was able to introduce regular food, which minimized the pressure to pump because my caregivers could supplement with food. Things finally started to click a little when I didn’t feel the “pressure” to pump as often. My little guy ended up doing just fine and was progressing at healthy weights and measures at each doctor appointment. Overall, I just felt the pressure to solely breastfeed because I knew it was the best option. I learned not to beat myself up if I had half formula and half pumped milk if it knew I was more sane and my baby boy was happy and thriving.