Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Goodby to Pumping

Today my workday is different. I am not pumping. I am not providing milk for my daughter's bottle tomorrow. It feels strange. I Could pump. I could lift the pump off the floor and up onto my desk and take out my tubing and hook it up and get out my pump parts and express milk into a bottle. But, I'm not. I'm not going to do it.

I never really thought about "hanging up the horns" as being a big event, but it is. For the last four years I have either been pumping, pregnant, or both. When I finished graduate school and started my first "real" job I was pregnant with Fire Boy. After a way too short maternity leave I went back to work and entered the world of pumping mothers. I was rather lost. This contraption was so strange. I was nervous. It felt strange. At times I had trouble letting the milk down. I was stressed over getting enough milk. My baby didn't take bottles well. I had all the worries of a new parent and all the anxieties of going back to work exhausted and juggling my roles as mother and wife and worker and also providing milk for my baby. I was glad to do it, but at the same time it wasn't easy. It seemed like my workday was consumed by drinking, pumping, eating, repeat, repeat, repeat. We had thrush. We had unknowledgeable doctors. We had doctors who tried to get us to stop breastfeeding. Fire Boy had a dairy allergy. I had a lipase issue. I had post-partum depression. I traveled for job interviews. I pumped on planes, in hotels, in airports, in cars, in bathrooms, in closets, in offices, and at home. We moved. I started a new job. And still I pumped. I pumped for Fire Boy until he was two years old and I was pregnant with Wind Girl and my milk dried up.

I have pumped for 16 months for Wind Girl, and we (Wandering Dad and I) decided it was a reasonable time for me to stop pumping for her. She is much more interested in food than Fire Boy was at this age, and much less attached to the bottle. So hopefully today she napped easily without a bottle of mama's milk (and if she really wants it there is milk in the freezer that can be thawed for her). In some ways I feel like I am cheating her by not pumping. The milk is here, ready for her, and I'm choosing to let it stay there and not express it for her. But also, I pumped for 16 months! That is a long time. She is a big girl, and doesn't really need the milk during the day now. She can still nurse all she wants when I am at home, and the amount of milk she gets doesn't have to be diminished.

Although there are days when I have Really not wanted to pump, times when I dreaded it, I feel so lucky to have been able to provide for my children in this way. And I think part of me needed to be needed in that way. I needed to provide milk. It was something that only I could do. I couldn't be there with them, but I, and only I, could provide mama's milk for them. It has been good for them, and it has been good for me in a way. I am glad I did it!

During this time as a pumping mother I have learned so much. I have learned about pumps. I have learned about traveling with breastmilk. I have learned to hand express. I about breastmilk storage. About bottles. About nipple confusion. About changing membranes regularly. About hand-free pumping. About pumping while driving. About supply. About oatmeal and Mother's Milk tea. And about the need for support and accurate information! I have also learned about cleaning milk out of computer keyboards, about overflowing bottles, about spilled bottles, and about forgetting to but the bottles on and soaking my pants.

Luckily though this all I have had supportive friends and family and the wonderful community at Kellymom. This support helped get us through our breastfeeding difficulties, and helped me develop into the mother that I am. I needed support in my endeavors, and I needed friends who I was not afraid to talk to about things like nipples, breastpump tubing, and baby poop, and who could help me see that reverse cycling was only a phase. It seems that everything is only a phase. And this phase of my life is over. I am no longer a pumping mama.


  1. Thanks so much for the post - as I'm about to enter that world again. You were probably the number one reason I was able to pump so long at work, and why I feel comfortable doing so again. There are some moms here who pump between Defensive Tactics sessions. Punch the bag, pump, snap front kick, pump. Women like them and like you make it easier for the rest of us. :)

  2. Every pumper needs support! I hope that things go smoothly for you this time.