Let me tell you how much I hate it.
Before pumping, life was simple. I had a baby, he got hungry, I fed him. End of story.
Now, I hook an unnatural contraption to myself three times a day for at least 15 minutes at a time and collect my milk and drop it off at day care for them to feed him. But it's not that simple. I have to take so much fenugreek to boost my milk supply that I get dizzy sometimes. And sometimes my supply is lowish, so I have to keep hooked up to my pump most of the day, "power pumping" (10mins on, 10mins off). I eat oatmeal for breakfast and afternoon snack, everyday, trying to eek out a little more milk. On the weekends I can't go anywhere with him because I need him to nurse, and nurse often, so that my supply gets a boost from real nursing (pumps are nothing like babies).
That is as good as it gets, and indeed, it is often worse than that.
You see, I have to make extra milk because he doesn't finish his bottles and I ask them to discard left over milk on bottles that are more than 2 hours old (there isn't a hard and fast rule on this, people will quote the 10 hour rule, but that really isn't for bottles that have already been partially used and are sitting around a day care all day). So every day several ounces of this product I knock myself out to make is poured down the drain.
And when he got his fever the other week, his appetite dropped off, way off, and then so did my supply. So I fretted and worried about even being able to get my supply back up all the next week. Then he got a fever over the weekend and we are in the same boat again this week.
And after several weeks of eating so well at day care I got a call yesterday afternoon that broke my heart. At 1:30pm, he had only drank 1 oz of milk all day. I dropped what I was doing to go feed my baby, but I felt like the worst mother in the world because I barely had any milk to give him because I had just finished another figgin power pump (still trying to get my supply back up). It is awful watching your baby work to stimulate your breast again and again only to get a few swallows of milk. Awful.
I had to go back to work, feeling completely defeated. My baby still hungry.
Pumping is kind of an all or nothing thing. To keep my supply up, I have to pump frequently and empty the breast as well as my pump can... which leaves me less prepared than I would like to be in the evenings.
Why do I do it? Because I love breastfeeding my child. It gives me more joy than anything else I could do in a day. And he loves it too.
I'm glad to have a job and make a good wage and get to do something that stimulates and challenges me everyday, but I hate that I have to pump to make it work. And I hate that I have to be afraid that tomorrow I might wake up all dried up and never get the chance to feed him again.