Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I hate pumping

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.


Michelle said...

Awww I hope the little guy feels better soon.
Pumping sounds like it's a horrible task. Everyone I know dreads those pumps. That really sucks that so much gets wasted as well. You are doing a great job though and giving him the best. I admire you for your dedication!

Celia said...

Isn't it insane that something as natural as breastfeeding is so delicate? I work all day just to get ONE bottle, I need it so Peter can have his prune juice. I over slept today and he has not had it yet. And if I don't pump enough into the bottle, he is frustrated and wants the breast, which is not full enough cause I pumped. I have no idea how you do it.

Amanda said...

Could you just give him his prune juice with a dropper? We gave Michael apple juice the other day that way.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, I hear you. I don't know how I would manage if I worked outside the home. I haven't been able to even pump 2 oz lately and I'm taking 15 fenugreek capsules a day now! I'm half tempted to order some domperidone off the internet and see if that helps me.
That's the worst when you've just pumped and your baby is hungry and just wants to breastfeed.

Could you give them smaller bottles so that they waste less? Of course it would be a pain for them to potentially have to heat up more than one bottle, but ugh, the thought of that precious breast milk going down the drain is heartbreaking.

Amanda said...

I hate that it goes down the sink, but they are pretty good about making reasonable bottles... I'd rather them make too much than have him finish a bottle and still be hungry and then get distracted while waiting for the next bottle and loosing interest. I always remind myself, it's not about having a freezer full of milk... and I do actually have a lot of milk in the freezer.

Kate said...

I could have written this except I'm not at work yet. Next week, it'll be me. Fenugreek, blessed thistle, domperidone, it's all on board.
Don't waste the ounces. The breastfeeding consult I had said that you don't need to discard the leftovers like you do for formula. Can you ask them to keep the extra in the fridge for the next feed? That's what I do with my EBM that I supplement K with after every feed.
I also give it to her cool from the fridge, and it's not a problem.

Amanda said...

I asked my lactation consultant about the leftover milk in the bottle and there really isn't a hard and fast rule on it, but I follow Dr. Sears' advice on it: http://www.askdrsears.com/faq/bf28.asp

Celia said...

I thought about giving him the prune juice ( we call it poop juice) straight, but it scares me a little. That stuff is POWERFUL.

Rebecca said...

I am so impressed by your dedication and your hard work!! Like Kate and Amanda suggested, I wonder if it could be a little easier on you if you use Dr. Sears' advice and use the extra milk at the following feeding.

Our ideas about whether milk should be offered at the following feeding are actually not based at all in any research on breastmilk; they are just based on our knowledge of what happens to formula after baby feeds. I have a friend who has been doing research and she has found that baby's mouth actually contaminates the milk less than the mother's breast does when she pumps out the milk. Since this research hasn't been published yet, I don't know how it will affect guidelines in the future, but in the meantime it seems like Dr. Sears' recommendation is based in a good understanding of the antibacterial properties of breastmilk.

Good luck and hope you keep enjoying breastfeeding :-)

Amanda said...

Rebecca... I am the same Amanda, so thanks for agreeing with me ;)

If we let the bottle go until the "next feeding" we might actually waste more that way... sometimes he just eats a little and comes back and eats a little more and it takes several feedings to get him to take 3 or 4 oz, but 2 hours is a pretty reasonable timespan to get the bottle finished. They are doing a good job with this, but waste happens.

And I understand how miraculously antimicrobial breastmilk is, I'm more wary of the bacteria that clings to the bottle and the nipple. And their are other problems like yeast, which thrive on breastmilk to worry about. It's just not worth it to me... I'd rather knock myself out pumping than risk him getting sick again.

Jessica White said...

Hang in there! Breastfeeding, or rather the pumping side of it, is hard.

White Picket Fences said...

All I can say is been there, done that. I ended up on domperidone and have a much more comfortable supply now. That being said, my not so little guy still only drinks 4 oz at a time. He drank more when he was younger ..but slowed down when he started reverse cycling. I only made 2 ounce bottles forever, and only increased by 1/2 ounce when he consistently finished the bottle. Took several months to work up to 4 ounces. And he's probably close to M's size...23 pounds @ 11 months. I still hate pumping. Not sure what I'll do when the birthday rolls around. I'd like to be done ..but I don't think he'll be magically ready or aware of the milestone.

portia said...

hi. i know exactly how you feel. my little one is just 5months but th toll of pumping and the constant low milk supply is really so heartbreaking. i cant help but be too hard on myslef becaus i really really want bfeeding to work. i wish i had it easier like other moms so i wouldnt feel so inadequate.