I didn’t think I’d be this emotional about turning off the Medela breast pump for good, but it’s bittersweet. Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about my breastfeeding and pumping journey ending. I am beyond grateful that I was able to feed our son the best my body had to offer for 13 months, as well as donate in excess of 25 gallons (yes, GALLONS) of breast milk to the Mother’s Milk Bank of North Texas, but I am incredibly sad to admit this chapter in my life, and my family’s life, is ending.
The end actually began late last week. I had a horrible sore throat last Friday and and went to doc-in-a-box (CareNow) first thing Saturday morning and received a steroid shot. I asked repeatedly if it was okay for breastfeeding and my milk supply and they assured me it was fine. I’m accepting responsibility for signing the consent form to receive the shot and I admit that I should have called my OB beforehand, but it’s additional proof that not all doctors are educated properly on drug interactions and breastfeeding. I knew this day would come eventually, but I wish it was on different terms. I wish it was on my terms. I wish I could have made the decision to stop pumping on my own. But, instead of passing judgment or blaming someone, I’m going to look at this situation as a sign to be thankful and move on.
The last 13 months have had a few bumps along the road, but, for the most part, my breastfeeding and pumping experience has been super positive. To new or expecting moms, I highly recommend taking a breastfeeding class before your little one arrives. This was the only class I attended, in addition to the maternity ward tour, and quite possibly the best decision I made while pregnant. I learned the basics, troubleshooting solutions, and left with the personal phone number of the lactation nurse at the hospital where Kamden was born. That class, plus some common sense, I think, was the reason we had such great success breastfeeding and pumping. I also realize how blessed I am to have a child who latched on so early and efficiently. Kamden’s birth was easy-peasy and he started eating almost immediately. It was the beginning of a very beautiful thing. But the first week and month were not without their challenges. Kamden had jaundice and that caused us stress and several trips to the hospital and pediatrician’s office for blood tests. He was also the master champion of frequent cluster feedings. It wasn’t until I started pumping that I realized his cluster feedings and spit-ups were most likely caused by my own body and very abundant supply issues. I originally planned to breastfeed as long as possible but I wanted to practice pumping before I had surgery in March (to remove my gallbladder and have my tubes tied), so I began pumping in January. It was then I realized I had a super abundant supply and really fast let-down, the rate at which milk comes out. Once we introduced Kamden to a bottle, and figured out his preferred quantity, he was a much happier, content baby. He started sleeping longer stretches because he was full and he stopped spitting up immediately. It was obvious that pumping would be our best option. It didn’t matter to me whether I fed at the breast or with a bottle, I wanted Kamden to have my breast milk as long as my body produced it. If that meant I had to become an exclusive pumper, I was happy to oblige … no matter the time, hard work, and dedication required. Fortunately, again, pumping was easy for me. I’ve never had an unpleasant experience pumping and, with the help of a hands-free bra, pumping became a way of life. It’s never been a burden or an inconvenience either. Within a few weeks of pumping exclusively, and freezing excess milk on a daily basis, I soon filled an entire basket in our chest deep freezer. It was around this time I was introduced to the Angel Gown program and donated my wedding dress. It was then I learned specific details about NICU babies receiving breast milk from registered donors. On May 19, I made my first donation to the Mother’s Milk Bank of North Texas. I am donor #5644. To date, I’ve donated 3,300 ounces of breast milk. Both of these numbers, my donor tag and quantity, mean as much to me as my college degree, it’s something that I accomplished and no one can take away.
TO KAMDEN – I am so proud of you and thankful to be your Mommy. Thank you for being the amazing and awesome and wonderful son that you are, not to mention my super-duper nursling and bottle-feeder. You have made my pumping experience so worthwhile and I hope the benefits of drinking Mommy’s Milk for a year-plus come to you ten-fold. I love you to the moon and back.
TO HUSBAND – Thank you for being my rock and strong hold of support not only through my pregnancy, but delivery and beyond. I could not have been as successful pumping exclusively without your love and support. You are my number one fan and team captain. Kamden is so blessed to have you as his daddy and there is no one on earth I’d rather be the father of my son than you. Thank you for making all of my dreams come true, every single day. I love you to the moon and back. Now, does our insurance cover breast augmentation? Because the girls are super sad looking now.
TO FRIENDS & FAMILY – Thank you for your ceaseless support of my family and pumping choice. You all have been our cheerleaders from the very beginning and we are so grateful. The saying – it takes a team to nurse or pump and a village to raise a child – is true! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts … and my sagging boobs. We love you all to the moon and back. Now, who’s got a bottle of Cupcake Moscato? I’m ready to celebrate and don’t have to pump-and-dump!
What should I do with this stuff?