I HATE Pumping

Before we had Peanut, I wasn’t sure I could breastfeed.  My primary concern was that I had a breast reduction 10 years ago and I was pretty sure that would affect my ability to breastfeed.  But what I didn’t know was that wasn’t the biggest obstacle – I later found out that PCOS, which I was diagnosed with many years ago, actually has a pretty big impact on milk supply.  I knew about all the other effects of PCOS, one of the main ones being infertility and so I just felt incredibly grateful to be able to get pregnant without any medical intervention. 

Unfortunately, there are no tests that can be done beforehand to tell you whether you can breastfeed or not.  You just kinda have to give it a whirl once you have a baby and hope for the best.  My expectations were low but I was determined to do everything I could to breastfeed successfully.  Here’s where I got lucky: the pediatrician we picked (and I’ll admit that we didn’t go about this very well – we didn’t interview anybody or visit any doctor’s offices; we were completely unprepared.  When we had the baby and the hospital asked who our pediatrician was, we panicked and said the first office that came to mind) is also a lactation consultant.  And she is awesome.  (I don’t throw that word around lightly.)  In the early weeks, we would go to her office every 2-3 days, even on weekends, and she would sit with us while I attempted to nurse so she could see how it was going or what I was doing wrong.  I mean, she literally sat with us in the room for almost an hour and never once made us feel like we were wasting her time.  For a busy doctor, this is practically unheard of. 

I can honestly say that I think had we not found this doctor, I probably would’ve given up trying to breastfeed after a week or so.  (I also want to give huge props to my husband who encouraged me every step of the way and never once made me feel bad about myself.  He was so supportive through this whole thing and continues to be supportive – without that support, I probably would’ve fallen apart.)  It was hard.  There were far too many times that I would cry while trying to put Peanut on the breast and she struggled and fought and wailed and I just felt that I couldn’t even do the most basic thing such as feed my child.  I remember saying to my husband through my tears, “My baby shouldn’t have to work this hard just to get food!”  I had to use nipple shields and milk syringes and supplemental tubes taped to my breast that gave her formula while she nursed so she could a get a little breast milk but not starve.  I took goats rue (the nastiest tasting stuff ever), fenugreek and prescription pills that had to be ordered from NorthCarolina all to try to increase my milk supply, most of it to no avail.  And so I felt guilty.  And ashamed.  And exhausted.

(I’m going to go off on a bit of a tangent here: during this time, somebody I follow on twitter who was pregnant at the time, tweeted about breastfeeding and how she wasn’t worried about it because it’s completely natural and the body just knows what to do [emphasis mine].  While I understand this way of thinking, I feel like it’s really damaging to the millions of women who are struggling to breastfeed and already feeling enough shame about it.  Could we just stop perpetuating the idea that it’s supposed to be easy?  Even without my supply issues, I believe that breastfeeding is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  Yes, it’s totally worth it but perhaps that’s one of the things that makes it so hard to begin with.  There are all these emotions and expectations tied up in it and the last thing new mothers need is more pressure.)

Anyway…we kept going and eventually we found a rhythm.  No, I couldn’t breastfeed exclusively but I could nurse enough to give her about half her nutrition from breast milk and also enough to feel like I was getting that bond that I craved.  I began to love breastfeeding, especially during the times when it seemed like all she did was cry unless she was on the breast.  Once I realized I could do this, I decided I wanted to make it to a year.  I wanted to give Peanut as much as I could up until her first birthday.  And then I went back to work, where I had to go through the hassle of trying to find time in my schedule to pump and shortly after that, Peanut became a very curious, wiggling, active baby who would now only nurse in the morning and only for about 2 minutes.  Therefore I had to pump even more to ensure that she would continue to get all the breast milk that she could.

And so, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, I absolutely hate pumping.  Really, truly hate it.  As much as I love breastfeeding, I hate pumping.  I don’t even think words can describe how much I hate it.  But we’re so close to Peanut’s first birthday and so I continue; I’m determined to make it the year that I promised myself.  But wow, I’m going to be so happy when I can toss that pump in the closet and never look at it again.  Or until the next kid…


6 thoughts on “I HATE Pumping

  1. I’m so happy you have found what works for you! And kudos for the amazing pediatrician. With my oldest son, I struggled for a few weeks with him nursing. After that I really enjoyed it. With my youngest, well, that’s a different story. I can remember banging my head against the wall because that hurt less than him nursing. I would call my best friend crying almost everyday asking if I would be a horrible mother by giving him formula because it hurt so bad. My poor husband tried everything to make it better. My nipples spent the better part of a month or so cracked, bleeding, and in constant pain. Until I remembered how to get my son to open his mouth correctly to latch. Then, it became so much better and I felt like we were bonding instead of me resenting the fact that he had to eat. My body sure has hell didn’t “know what it was doing” then. IF we were going to have a third, which we are not, that child, I’m 98% sure, would be formula fed. I just don’t think I could do it again. Don’t feel badly about the choices you make for your daughter!

  2. Great post, pumping is the worst. It’s nice to give the girls a rest. Thank you for this post. Congrats for making it (almost) a year.

  3. Great post and I COMPLETELY relate…my baby girl is now 9.5 months and I have managed to make it through breastfeeding thus far despite the universe throwing seemingly EVERY breastfeeding obstacle at me: unimaginable pain/cracking/bleeding at the beginning, baby not gaining enough weight, pumping (and I have a manual pump, if you can believe that!), going back to work and STILL pumping, and now, I have a throat infection for which I have to take steroids and antibiotics that make me unable to BF for a full week. It broke my heart this morning to see the baby tugging at my shirt after I gave her a bottle and to be unable to breastfeed and have that bonding moment we usually share before I leave for work. It broke my heart even more to dump out a full 6 ounce bottle of pumped breastmilk from this morning, but I will continue to do this for the next week until she is allowed to nurse again. I hope and pray she doesn’t self-wean during this next week, but overall I have to say I’m pretty darn proud of myself for making it this far with all these challenges in my way. And I think you should absolutely be proud of yourself as well. Breastfeeding is one of the hardest aspects of motherhood in my experience, but also one of the most rewarding.

  4. First of all, congratulations on making it this far!! I, too, am a working mom of a 10 month old, and I, too, HATE pumping. And I rarely get much out, so it’s almost not even worth it to me, but I keep at it, 1 measly ounce at a time. I want to make it to a year as well, but I don’t think my frozen supply is going to make it, and the fact that I will no longer have to pump is the only silver lining in the whole situation.

    I know so many women who struggle to breastfeed, and you should be so proud of yourself for making it this far (so should the previous commentor!)

  5. Completely agree… pumping is the worst. My little one is 9 months old so I’m counting down the days. Congrats in everything you’ve done for Peanut though. BFing is hard but worth it. 🙂

  6. Oh how I feel for you! It’s definitely the hardest thing I have ever had to do! by a mile too! It took me and my husband 7 years to get pregnant and have a baby. By the end of it, we did it with the help of IVF, which was successful. But I had to have a c-section, which went great, too. But IVF+C is an absolute killer combo for breastfeeding. Let alone the milk coming late, I had so little of it, it was driving me mad. I have a baby boy, who was born over 4 kilos and always was (and still is God bless him) a good eater. So I can totally relate to all the frustration at first. But once we managed to find a routine and once I stopped weeping and feeling bad about adding formula to his meals, it all settled down. I relaxed, more milk came and both of us were happy bunnies. I also agree re pumping. God how I hated that thing!!!!! It’s tucked away faaar away right now (my boy is 1 yr and 2 months now) and i am not touching it until I REALLY need to. So whoever says it’s all natural and all that blah blah blah…I think they’re either in denial, or just damn lucky. It’s good to hear I am not alone in this world in my thinking it’s a bloody killer 🙂

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