Packing Up The Pump

I’m sort of sad about this, and sort relieved at the same time. I’ve religiously been hooking myself up to my Medela PISA 3 times a day, 5 days a week for the past 55 weeks in an effort to provide breast milk for my little one while I’m away at work. 55 weeks, y’all. It’s tedious and I’m tired, but I’m having a hard time letting it go.

This pump isn’t the best on the market, but it was free through insurance and it works well enough for me. I’ve pumped God knows how many ounces through this thing. In the past year, I’ve been able to provide exactly what my little one needs as well as donate my excess milk to other babies. I’ve donated 762 ounces to 10 different babies. That’s 7 ounces away from 6 GALLONS of breast milk donated…but who’s counting? *Raises hand* I am, only because I’m completely astonished that I can milk myself like a regular ol’ dairy cow.

This is where the sadness creeps in. Now that my baby is consistently eating solids and drinking less breast milk, it’s only logical that my milk should be decreasing. My mind knows this. My heart does not want to accept it. I have the “ounces pumped” complex that I tell so many moms not to have, as the amount of milk you can pump does not determine the amount that is ACTUALLY in your breasts. It is only an indication of what you can pump. Watching my output go from 14+ ounces a day down to 7 ounces or less (usually less) has been hard. It’s just another sign that my one and only baby is growing up at a rate that is infinitely faster than I expected. I’m pretty sure I was just blogging about tongue tie difficulties last week and now suddenly, to my surprise, her entire existence does not revolve around my breasts. It feels like the intensity of breastfeeding is leaving as quickly as it came. I’m used to counting ounces, counting pump sessions, storing milk, counting more ounces, looking at donation sites, organizing milk oldest date in the front, newer in the back, calculating what I can keep and what I can donate..how many ounces did she eat today? How many wet diapers did she have? Now it’s one pump session and one bag of milk. No storing, no donating, no organizing, no counting. One and done. 

I feel like I’m letting my recipient babies and mommies down. I know I have no obligation whatsoever to give away the milk I don’t use. I do it because I can, and my heart aches for the moms who desperately want to breastfeed but, for whatever reason, can’t. I remember the devastation I felt when we were having a very hard time working out our kinks in the beginning. I can’t imagine the strength it takes to ask perfect strangers for their extra milk, knowing they need it to feed their own baby. In all truthfulness, I may have allowed myself to slip into PPD had breastfeeding not worked out in our favor. Thankfully, that didn’t happen and we made it work. Through my success, I’ve wanted to bless other families and I’ve had 10 opportunities to do just that. Putting away my pump means letting go of opportunities to provide a substance that the best scientists and nutritionists in the world can not recreate. It’s with a great sadness that I switch my Facebook newsfeed preferences to “default” instead of “see first” when it comes to breast milk donation pages like Eats on Feets and Human Milk 4 Human Babies. I mean, I know I’m not out saving the world or anything, but I am saving the sanity of just one breastfeeding mom somewhere, and maybe saving the little bellies of babies who don’t tolerate formula so well. 

Relief also accompanies the sadness. My job can be sort of  totally hectic during the summer months and I’m glad I won’t constantly be behind on work because I need a pump break every two hours. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m working on it. I’m slowly weaning from three pump breaks, down to two, and now one break a day. I’ll go from spending a hour and a half of pumping everyday down to just thirty minutes. I’ll be able to be away from my little one for several hours (if needed) without having to find a way to pump. Hand expression has never been my forte, so I won’t have to worry about that if I can’t find an electrical outlet.

I’m just sad that pumping less is another step toward the end of our nursing relationship. I know she’s not ready to wean completely for a while, but it’s coming. It will just be the end of an era with this baby. I know the special moments I have with her now are coming to a close. I’m trying to tell myself that the time I’m getting back can be put to good use. I can do things like paint my nails, or take naps, something for myself instead of sterilizing pump parts, organizing stashes, or preparing bags of milk to freeze. It’s an adjustment, that’s all. Great things will come along down the road but I’ll still miss this, that’s for sure. It’s just tasting a little more bitter than sweet right now.

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photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/29501028@N00/6053374607″>K1000_Portra160NC_24Jul2011_32A_0173</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/84485192@N00/25647808856″>You guys, I’m calling it. After 17 months, I’m done pumping.</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

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