I am somewhat under emotional (my husband likes to say I’m Vulcan) and, although my first breastfeeding experience started out a bit rocky, it ended up going so well that it actually helped me see the light at the end of the newborn stage tunnel with my second. So when Katie asked for stories of boob baggage I thought I couldn’t contribute. I thought, “I don’t have any boob baggage.”
But then, last night at my three am nursing session, my boob baggage story came to me. And I realized that I may be Vulcan, but there have been times when I was emotionally compromised and it has caused some serious pumping boob baggage . . .
When I think about pumping what immediately and consistently comes to mind is sitting hunched and cross-legged on the bed in my friends spare bedroom, listening to a forty-five second loop (recorded on my phone) of my baby crying out to me, holding the flanges of a borrowed Ameda to my breasts, and bawling my eyes out.
I found myself in this position after my first husband asked for a divorce when my daughter was seven months old. I had never before been physically separated from her for more than a few hours and now she was spending every other night at our house with her dad while I stayed with a friend.
Knowing nothing about pumping or supply, I borrowed a pump and, to help with letdown, made that recording of my baby, and tried to keep breastfeeding going . . . which I did, for while, until my daughter lost interest and my milk dried up.
So I have pumping boob baggage.
And it didn’t help that the first time I pumped with number two was one week postpartum because of an emergency room visit that ended up in a D and C. Since both the OBGYN and the anesthesiologist insisted I pump and dump (and despite Katie saying it was fine to nurse) my husband said we should give her formula. So I again found myself, under a very different (and thankfully temporary) set of circumstances, using a borrowed Ameda.
Pumping, especially at home and especially at night, seems so lonely to me. Pumping means I’m not holding my baby. It means I am separated from her . . .
Fortunately, I have found that I kind of enjoy pumping at work. I got to cover my windowed office walls in relaxing cloud-covered bulletin board paper, and pumping means getting to close my door and have a snack and take a little break. I have a new hands-free Madela of my very own and it is bright and cheery in my office. Rather than a recording of crying, I do Katie’s 5-5-7 breathing and think about soft baby head to elicit let down.
So I am hoping that, one day, when I think about pumping, what comes to mind are the times at work . . . pumping while typing a report or reviewing a batch packet or doing some other important work thing . . . providing the best for my baby while maintaining my career and helping to support my family. I hope I remember the soothing cloud wall paper and the sounds of the highway outside my window, my fingers on the keyboard, and my coworkers chatting outside my door, and the feeling of pride for all that I am accomplishing.