A PUMPING JOURNEY
Updated: Mar 12, 2019
My worth as a mother is not measured in ounces...but sometimes it's hard to remember that.
I recently came home from my first trip away from Avi.
2 12-hour flights
3 pumps + a battery pack
40 freezer bags
Countless bags of ice
When I was pregnant, I was sure that I wouldn't succeed at breastfeeding. I had seen too many moms deal with the heartbreak of latch issues, food allergies, and low supply and I prepared myself for the worst. I bought formula just in case. Avi was born and we gave it a go. And it worked! He latched well and gained weight quickly. I found an incredible Breastfeeding Support Group and made these mamas my tribe. I quickly stopped bringing my nursing apron out with me and nursed without fear of being seen. I loved my new identity of a breastfeeding mama.
And then Avi's weight gain started to slow. We realized that over the course of 1 month, he had only gained less than a pound. He dropped from around the 10th percentile to the 4th. We had a tongue, lip and cheek tie corrected. We did painful mouth exercises with him every 4 hours, 24 hours a day. None of it seemed to make a difference. I would weigh him at my support group and burst into tears when the scale showed no gain that week. Nursing wasn't working.
I remembered my promise to myself when I was pregnant. "If this doesn't work, it's fine. We'll move on. He'll be just as healthy on formula". And I still believe that to be true. Formula is an incredible and life-saving tool that we modern mamas have. I have absolutely no judgement for moms who give their baby formula, whether that be by choice or as a last resort. But I was no longer the woman I was 4 months ago. I had developed a relationship with breastfeeding that I wasn't ready to give up, even if I couldn't nurse my baby anymore. I became an exclusive pumper.
I joined Facebook groups, signed up for newsletters, and read every website I could find on pumping. I even read the book "Work, Pump, Repeat" (which I highly recommend). I became an expert. I was able to manipulate my supply to increase it to the point where I am currently storing anywhere from 10-13 ounces a day in my freezer. I currently pump 4 times a day. I wake up at 5am every single morning to pump. My goal is to provide breast milk to Avi for one year. If I keep going at this pace, I will have enough in my freezer by the beginning of May to last until his first birthday in July.
As I was preparing for my first big trip away, I went back and forth as to how I would deal with pumping. Would I excuse myself every few hours and miss important meetings and conversations? Would I be able to save my milk? Could I possibly bring it home with me? How would I pump on the plane? I found a way that worked for me. I pumped in front my boss. In cars with my colleagues. In restaurants and at meetings. I used something called Freemies that were discreet enough that people didn't even realize what I was doing. This worked for me; I don't presume everyone would be comfortable with it. It was a lot of work. It was awkward. It was exhausting.
Is it worth it? I don't know. Sometimes I think I'm crazy. Maybe I've become obsessed. I know in my heart that Avi would thrive just as well on formula as he is on my milk. I know that my worth as a mother is not measured by the amount of ounces I pump. But for me - for now - this is the choice I've made. He'll never really know or understand these sacrifices I've made. He's a boy...he'll probably be completely grossed out by the thought of it.
My personal pumping journey has inspired me to become a Lactation Counselor and Pumping Expert so that I could help other moms have successful and positive experiences in pumping. Click here to learn more.