Real Moms

Reflections on a year of nursing + pumping

Vera turned one yesterday, which means I’ve been nursing and pumping for one year and one day (and counting) now.

And it’s been a looooooooong year.

I have so many mixed feelings, and I’m sure it will only get more muddled once I’ve weaned. With that in mind, this post may be a little all over the place.

Breastfeeding was a conscious choice on my part and I feel lucky that A. I live in a time where I had the option to make the choice, and B. it went relatively smoothy for Vera and me. But the thing is – even when breastfeeding is going GREAT, it’s still hard. Even when your kid is chubby and healthy and happy, it’s still hard.

But it’s also precious. The snuggles I got during our nursing sessions, the feeling of being able to nourish her and the joy at watching her growing and knowing – I did that. When I was on maternity leave, nursing was easy and helped us bond. When I went back to work, nursing gave us a chance to bond and snuggle before and after work.

Of course, the nursing is one thing. But the pumping? That is a whole other hustle. I think the pump is the OG frenemy.

Day after day after day after day of being hooked up to the pump. Someone recently mentioned taking Vera to the farmpark to see the cows being milked….and I thought, why? I LIVE THAT EVERY DAY.

stefan-rayner-86863

I might start a movement to free the cows from having other people watch them get milked. #sisterhood

I’ve pumped in the nursery, in the basement, in the guest room. I’ve pumped in the mother’s room at my old job, and in the mother’s room at my new job – that’s right, I started a new job in April and still had to fit in my pumping sessions. I’ve pumped in the mother’s room at my clients’ offices, running through their buildings to make it to meetings on time. I’ve pumped in the bathroom at O’Hare – not once but twice, and had an old lady yell at me for taking too long. I’ve pumped in the backseat of my colleagues’ car in the middle of an open air parking lot in downtown Cincinnati, (he was not in it, thank goodness), and in my car in the parking lot of a client’s office. I’ve pumped while driving. I’ve pumped at 3 am for a week straight multiple times trying desperately (and fruitlessly) to increase my supply.

I traveled to Chicago overnight when my kid was 4.5 months old – just a month after going back to work. And I pumped and pumped and pumped and pumped…and carried it ALL back. I shoved freezer bags of ice in a cooler, praying my milk would stay cold and the bags of ice wouldn’t leak. I traveled a few more times for business, and got hassled at TSA each time. And differently each time – no one knows the rules for traveling with breastmilk, FYI. I traveled to Florida and got in extra pumping sessions (in addition to nursing) every.single.day. on “vacation,” and carried milk back again – and they hassled Mike this time, too.

I cried when the daycare kept feeing Vera an extra bottle and then I cried harder that I was upset with my kid for acting or being hungry. I collapsed in frustration when my parents dumped a whole bottle – SIX PRECIOUS OUNCES – down the drain, and when I spilled two ounces. I googled and googled and googled when the over supply I had during maternity leave turned into under supply a few months into being back at work.

And yet. All that pumping helped me feed my child when I was at work and helped me nurse when I was at home.

I was the first source of food for my child, and the primary source of her nutrition during the first year and change of her life. I nourished her and comforted her. She was slightly jaundiced at birth and it was my milk that helped her. She gained so much weight in the first week and month after leaving the hospital that the doctor couldn’t believe it. We have an unbreakable bond that would be unbreakable anyway, but I like to think all our nursing and cuddling helped.

I want to be careful because there are many ways to feed our children and they are all valid. (And shout out to my girl who exclusively pumped for an INSANE amount of time — you know who you are and I bow down to you.) But, but, but…I did this. And it was hard. And I am tired. But I am PROUD and oh man am I grateful..

So am I ready to be done? YEEEEEEES. And no. But mostly yes. Like I said, I’m tired. My body is tired. After 9 months of pregnancy plus 12 months of nursing and pumping, I am tired.

But this nursing journey has taught me a lot and I wouldn’t trade this year’s worth of quiet moments with my baby for anything – even the ones in the middle of the night.

-Stephanie

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