Friday, March 23, 2012
At first I was determined to do this for a year. But after a couple of months of feeling chained to a strict 2 – 3 hour schedule, waking nightly at 2 a.m. bleary-eyed to pump, washing bottles and pump parts until my hands bled, and feeling like my life revolved around breast milk, I knew there was no way I’d make it past six months. This was hard work, and very inconvenient! If life would start to get in the way of pumping, I promised myself to let it go for my own sanity and not beat myself up about it. I’d do it for as long as it was feasible and then I’d go with the flow, letting it naturally ebb and switching to formula.
It’s funny, though, how you can surprise yourself. I pump while answering email on my computer at the office, I pump in my car on my commute to and from my job or driving to meetings (with a hands-free bra, of course), and I pump in the wee morning hours more easily than before, waking automatically. Pumping is now so ingrained into my schedule I think I might be able to make it longer than six months after all.
Last week I contracted an awful stomach bug from Jake that had me waking up every hour to throw up. I felt so awful I could barely get out of bed. I couldn’t even keep water down. My biggest worry? Must…keep…pumping. I dragged my pathetic sickly self to the pump as often as I felt I could, even throwing up into a bucket as I pumped. Dehydrated and uninterested in eating, I still produced milk for my baby, albeit a lesser amount than normal. It seemed like a magical thing.
For a couple of days afterward, I produced probably 10 ounces less than my normal amount, leaving me panicked that one stomach virus had put a permanent dent in months of hard work. I freaked out. I realized just how important this has become to me – and how devoted I was willing to be in order to feed my son breast milk. I would do whatever I could to bring my supply back up, even if it was hard work and very inconvenient.
Another thing parenthood will teach you? You’re a lot stronger than you think.
Luckily, and to my relief, my supply has returned on its own and I’m back in business. And I don’t think I’ll be needing that formula for a while. Hopefully never!
Megan Brooks is a Senior Public Relations Specialist for Texas Health Resources, Stepmom, Mom to a four-month old, and devoted exclusive pumper.