Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pump It

I'm just gonna go right out and say it: pumping kind of sucks. I don't know if this makes me more or less of a dynamic pro-breastfeeding mama, but I can't help how I feel. I don't know if it's the fact that you're hooking a machine up to your chest, the industrial sounds it makes (my husband compares it to a really loud coffee maker), or maybe actually seeing said milk in all its glory that weirds me out the most.

The thing about breastfeeding is that I ALWAYS saw myself doing it. I never really questioned whether or not I would. My mom breastfed me and all my sisters, and I guess I just grew up seeing it and thinking that's how you feed babies. Plus, I am kind of poor ;) so free sounded better than not-free.

But the whole time I was pregnant, whenever I would think about milk actually being manufactured by my body and coming out of my breasts, it kind of blew my mind. Jigga-WHAT? I read a book on the subject, but when it got into all the medical diagrams and whatnot, my ADD kicked in and I tuned out. What I got was, "my body magically produces milk and the baby drinks it and we all win". I even took a class on breastfeeding while I was pregnant in order to prepare myself. Here's what I came away with "I am doing the best thing for my baby. Breastfeeding is awesome." Along with a little bit of "take your breast out, put the baby on it. Go!"

Needless to say, my first 2 weeks of trying with an actual baby were interesting. I cried a lot. Everleigh cried a lot. My nipples cracked and bled a little. Then a layer basically came off, leaving behind super pink, tough-cookie nipples. I got my milk in and figured out how the heck to do it right, and Everleigh put up with my punk ass until I got it together.

It's been awesome ever since.

But something cool about breastfeeding that's not so cool about pumping is that when you breastfeed, you don't typically see the milk much, you know? It goes directly from you to baby and unless baby is a messy eater, it's a fairly clean transfer. With pumping, everything's staring right at you. You see your nipples going into the suction things and getting all puffy and weird. Then you see individual drops of milk coming out, dripping down into the bottles, etc. Then when you finish, you're holding two CLEAR containers of breast milk.

I feel like this should not give me the willies but it does sometimes.

I was thinking about this the other day as I pumped, and I really think it's a societal norm issue. I mean, I have a whole gallon of cow's milk in my fridge in a clear container and I've never once thought it was weird. And yet, holding a warm freshly pumped bottle of my own milk still seems a little strange. I MADE that. I made that baby and then I made this milk to feed it.



Tiffany said...

THIS makes me laugh.

I really wanted to breastfeed. Really bad. When I had Ellie I never got my milk.. (I know, right? These things should at least be good for that).. When Connor came around I really tried. I tried so hard. Like I actually let the lactation lady at the hospital massage my boobs. Super awkward turtle. In the end between the hectic events that occurred after Connor's birth, me going back into the hospital and planning a wedding 2 months after I gave up. I always felt bad about it. After weeks though I stopped beating myself up and decided that crying over pumpings, feedings, pumpings, storings, feedings that it just wasn't okay. I had to come to terms with not being mentally able to handle it. I admire momma's that do it SO much. Maybe next time around, eh?

Erika said...

Tiff, while I'm totally in favor of breastfeeding, I've known several awesome mamas that just couldn't do it--whether because of a physical problem with mom or baby, or a situation like Connor's where there's too much stress or maybe even some post-partum depression involved. In the end, a healthy mom is going to provide the best care for baby. If bottlefeeding kept you sane, hats off! And yes, there's always next time :)

Leah said...

(i think you rock!)

Rachel said...

I remember the first time I pumped, I was blown away that milk comes out of several holes and not just one in the middle like on a bottle. No one ever tells you that! LOL

Amira said...

Like Rachel, the several holes thing really took me aback for a bit.

And you're definitely not alone in this pumping deal. I hated it. Breastfeeding was difficult for the entire duration that Aiman breastfed and the fact that he HAD a perfect latch the first time, but then developed nipple confusion when the nurses gave him a bottle without telling me (I KNOW. It still boils my blood almost two years later) was incredibly frustrating. After that it just went down hill. I would say learning to breastfeed, which conceptually doesn't sound too hard, is one of the most underestimated things about motherhood. It certainly caught me off guard. Well, thanks to those nurses...

And pumping was a real pain, literally and figuratively. You're totally right though; holding warm freshly pumped milk was a strange feeling.Actually, a wee bit gross to me. Not sure why, but it was.

Erika said...

lol. Amira, you crack me up :)PS: I thought nurses were specifically instructed NOT to give breastfed babies bottles!? Sorry you had to deal with that.