My Love Hate Relationship with Pumping
When Mr. T. was born he was taken off to the NICU three hours after his birth. He was hooked up to an IV and for the next six weeks was fed via a tube. The hospital provided the breast pump and I dutifully pumped my milk every three hours, morning, noon and night. Not a day went by where I wasn’t attached to that machine.
I’m not going to lie, it was hard. My alarm would wake me from a restless sleep forcing me out of bed and into a nearby chair to sit attached to the pump honking loudly as the milk dripped into the sterile little bottles given to me by the hospital. It felt so lonely. It felt so cold to be sitting all alone in the middle of the night, attached to a machine instead of feeding a baby.
Before I had children, I had a plan. A plan to pump milk, always having a supply ready so that I could head out for a girls night, an impromptu shopping trip or just to have a good night’s sleep. I was ready to pass on the feeding task to my husband whenever required.
Then I was hit with the reality of NICU’s and feeding tubes. The fact that I was forced to pump changed the way I felt about it. The hours I spent alone in a room right outside the NICU made me loathe it. Yet I soldiered on for months.
When Ms. J was born I decided that I would push away my negative feelings regarding pumping and buy my own pump. After all, Janelle wasn’t sick. I didn’t have to pump every three hours. Yet I couldn’t get it out of my head. I reluctantly pumped as needed and resented every second of it. It became more of a hassle, something I dreaded. It wasn’t even worth it for nights out or a little more sleep.
Eventually I gave up. I heard the judgments of people who thought I was being controlling or wouldn’t let anyone else be involved in this part of the baby care. While it bothered me, I knew in my heart that those people didn’t understand the complexities of why I was giving up. Those people weren’t sitting with me in the NICU, hour after hour while I pumped in a lonely room away from my baby.
It was then that I realized I didn’t have to stick this out. There was no rule saying I had to pump. I could stick to nursing and my baby would be happy and healthy. I didn’t have to make my decisions based on what others thought. I didn’t have to be the martyr. It was ok to admit that this was tough, I didn’t enjoy it and I didn’t have to continue.
So I didn’t.
There is no manual when it comes to babies. Everyone’s journey is different and you have to find your own routine.
I gave up the pump. I stuck to nursing alone. No one was hurt in the process. The world didn’t come to an end. I just retired my pump and stuck to the boob.
It was definitely the right decision for my family.