Pumping: Is It Time to Stop?

Today, my baby turned 10 months. I figured that was a good milestone and I should update with another installment of my breastfeeding journey.

So, where are we now?

I’m happy to be able to say, we are indeed still breastfeeding.

Unfortunately, he is on formula. He takes about 4 formula bottles a day. Along with 3 solid meals each day. He usually takes his bottles at certain times, he seems to like them on that schedule. But his nursing? There is no schedule. The older he gets, the better he is at letting me know what he wants. If we’re sitting on the floor together, he will crawl up to me and reach for me, or pull on my shirt. How could I possibly say no? Of course, I stop what I’m doing to nurse — sometimes it’s 5 minutes and he’s back on his way, or sometimes it’s for an hour.

But with a 10 month old baby who is CRAZY mobile, formula feeding, solids feeding, and breastfeeding … Pumping is pretty much impossible. I don’t work, so I’m with him 24 hours each day. I don’t ever leave him with a babysitter. He’s never spent a night away from me. If I go somewhere, he goes, too. So finding time to pump is … well, there isn’t any time.

I open up the kitchen cabinets, whether it be to grab him a snack, or grab a bottle, or whatever. And I see all of my pumping stuff. There’s a lot of it. It takes up a lot of space. Heck, if we’re being honest here — I still have the rented hospital grade pump sitting in my living room. I’m spending $70 a month to rent it and I haven’t even LOOKED at it in a month! I really do plan on returning it soon (I have two other pumps that are mine, so it’s not like I’ll be without a pump). Every time I look at my pumping stuff, I’m torn on whether I should store it away, or I should take it out to use it.

So this morning, I decided I’d pack it up. I’ll pack up my Pump In Style, I’ll pack up all of the parts, bottles .. EVERYTHING. It’s all clean, so why not pack it up and get it out of the way. I swear, when I pulled it out of the cabinets I started to cry. I literally stood there with tears falling from my eyes.

Why? I’ve never been particularly successful at pumping. The most I EVER pumped in one day was 15 ounces. That’s not enough when you are exclusively pumping. But I did it for months on end. I finally stopped really pumping on a regular basis (8-10 times a day) a few months ago. At that time I really began focusing on 1) breastfeeding, and 2) my VERY active baby.

But when I was pumping those ounces… whether they be one or fifteen — I was doing it for my baby boy.  Every ounce counted. And with all of the weight issues we had, every ounce that I could SEE him drinking, meant SO MUCH to me. So pumping meant a lot to me. My life REVOLVED around it. Of course it sucked a lot of the time. Who wanted to wash pump parts numerous times each day? And spend time trying to keep their baby occupied just so they could sit for 15, 20, or 30 minutes and pump? I have to admit, it was a LITTLE bit of a relief when I started to focus on breastfeeding more and pumping less.

But recently, I’ve began to feel like maybe my milk isn’t there. Of course, he’s nursing ALL THE TIME. It feels like he nurses nonstop from about midnight to 5am. We still co-sleep (I have a blog post on that coming soon), and I feel that co-sleeping DOES help our nursing, because it’s there for him ANYTIME. Do I sometimes feel a little tied down? Sure. My baby won’t fall asleep without being nursed to sleep by me. For EVERY nap, and EVERY bedtime. But I’m totally ok with that right now. Our nursing relationship has never been perfect, but I still manage to have that. But as much as he nurses, and the older he gets, I just started to feel “empty”. I never feel “full”. I haven’t “leaked” in months. It just feels.. different.

So this afternoon, after packing up all of my pumping stuff, i pulled out two bottles, and the other parts, and I pumped.

One ounce. I got one ounce. Hey — I still make milk! What a relief! You know what? I’m not ready to pack up the pump completely. I’d like to pump once a day. Even an ounce a day that I can give him in a bottle, and an ounce a day that I can SEE. I can’t pack it in completely, yet. Slowly but surely, I’ll get there. I’m just too darn attached. If it’s the hard to stop pumping, how will I ever give up breastfeeding?? Yikes. I will one day.

But not yet.

 

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