Breastfeeding Stories

Breastfeeding Week – Part 3: You Have to Find the Humor

What’s the saying, “if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry”? That’s what these moms decided to do when it came to breastfeeding. We all know that breastfeeding isn’t easy, and these moms chose to find the humor instead of getting frustrated.

They all had different experiences; one with exclusive pumping, another with breastfeeding in public and the last with engorgement, but they chose to handle them similarly. Their stories weren’t funny at the time, but looking back they couldn’t help but laugh.

All three of these moms are amazing and they did what they needed to for their babies. We hope you enjoy their stories as much as we did and that it helps you to laugh a little at yourself and your experiences (especially when it comes to breastfeeding)!


Katie
Mom to a 6 year old boy who she pumped for for 12 months,

a 3 year old girl who she pumped for for 12.5 months (383 days),
and a 15 month old girl who she pumped for for 11.5 months

Wacko, Wacko, Wacko

No, I’m not crazy, well relatively speaking, that’s the sound I hear repeating in my head every time I think about my time as an exclusive pumper.

Seven years ago I was pregnant with my first child, a boy. I had no clue what I was doing, all I knew was I could not drink wine or eat sushi until March when he was set to make his arrival. My girlfriends and I were all pregnant the same time with our firsts and in November when the first was born and I went to meet the new arrival I also learned about exclusively pumping.

What! That’s a thing? Ok, I’m going to do that! With all the horror stories I heard of nipple confusion, babies not taking a bottle, not being able to separate from a baby because of nursing, all these things ran through my mind because at that time I had a demanding job that I was going back to work five weeks after baby was born, I couldn’t have any of those scenarios holding me back. So there it was, I was set to become an EP’er. I had my heart set on giving the baby Breast milk, but really didn’t want to nurse. Problem solved. I always knew nursing wasn’t for me, but to do this and provide Breast milk in this way, sold.img_2351

March 10, 2012 a healthy baby boy was born and that started my journey of pumping. Through the last six years I have also given birth to two little girls and I also exclusively pumped for them as well.

I made it 10 months with my son, and had a freezer supply that got him to a year. My first daughter, I pumped for 383 days, damn right I counted. She had a fresh supply the entire time and I donated over 3,000 ounces to other mothers in need. My last daughter I made it 11.5 months (that .5 counts, let me tell you!) and I was also able to donate 2,000 ounces to other moms.

In the last six years of my life, almost half that time has been hooked up to a machine like a dairy cow; just call me Elsie! I will say, it’s one of the hardest jobs anyone can have, but worth every minute. It takes discipline, a routine, probably a little bit of crazy built into the genes and most importantly heart!

I have pumped driving, on cruise control, while in traffic on the expressway. I have pumped in an airport in the coffee bar. On the floor of a minivan while my father was driving, at dance competitions under makeup tables while my old students fixed their hair. Basically you lose all self-dignity and do what you have to do so you keep that supply up and so you don’t explode! That one time outside a church in the parking lot in the wedding planner’s car before my sisters wedding. Me, my pump, the battery pack and a quick 10 minutes, then I dumped it in the lawn all while repeating “I’m sorry God, I’m so sorry!”

I have fallen asleep while pumping only to wake up an hour, yes, AN HOUR later, soaked in overflowing bottles of breast milk with the sorest most raw set of boobs you could ever imagine, but need to hook right back up a few hours later, that was a bad day!

Wacko, Wacko, Wacko…. maybe it isn’t just the sound of my pump and I really am a little crazy.

However any mother knows there is no sacrifice too great for their children and the time and energy, not to mention destroyed nails from washing all the parts on a daily basis, never hindered my goal to provide the nourishment I could for my children in this way.
I will always be grateful to have been able to pump like I could. Many dear friends and family never could and many always felt bad about themselves because they couldn’t. That’s crazy to me, if your body doesn’t allow you to, that is why formula is there and all three of my children have had some formula in their lives. There is nothing wrong with it, at all!

My youngest is 15 months old, she is my last and this past March I put away all the supplies and all four pumps. I don’t miss them, but am grateful for the journey we took. However, the freedom away from them after all that time…. heaven.


Kelly
Mom to a 10 year old boy who she breastfed for 8 months
and pumped for for 4 months

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My son was 8 weeks old and the two of us had to fly. My husband was in the military and the flight we were on was mostly military men. I forgot my pumped milk in security and when we went to take off he wouldn’t stop crying. I tried everything I could but realized he wouldn’t stop unless I fed him so I tried to cover us the best I could so I could breastfeed him. He hated being covered and soon he threw his blanket onto the random man in uniform next to us while I was fully exposed. He kindly smiled (without making eye contact) and gave the blanket back and said “it’s ok, I have kids”.  I soon realized that modesty was a thing of the past.


Lindsay
Mom to a 4.5 year old girl who she breastfed for 14 months
and a 2 year old girl who she breastfed for 11 months

So, breastfeeding is supposed to be this maternal, natural, beautiful thing with a cooing baby and an angelic mother, soft music plays in the background and even a warm filter takes over the picture.  You got that right?  Yeah, me neither.  My story doesn’t go so much like that…

Let me set the stage, we begin with an emergency c-section due to a breech, caused by a tilted uterus and a uterine septum.  All undiagnosed.  During my stay in the hospital I had to get real comfortable with perfect strangers poking and prodding me and looking at and in parts of me that my husband hadn’t even seen.

Breastfeeding took the form of nurses propping me up with pillows and placing the baby IMG_0407on my bloated, flabby, stapled stomach.  I was so doped up the first couple days I laid there like a human experiment that aliens had taken over.  Immediately, the worry began of “your baby is dropping weight”. She was already early and small to begin with, so they wanted to supplement.  I pushed against this so the “hospital grade” pump came out and we celebrated when after 15 minutes of pumping, a millimeter of yellow fluid filled the vial.  In between nursing the baby was fed with a tiny spoon.  By the last day of our hospital stay we were doing better and were on our way home.  I thought my nursing was going great, and then my milk came in…

Flash forward to several hours later in our home.  I woke up after falling asleep in our bedroom with the baby and literally felt like I had 20 pound boulders attached to my chest.  I couldn’t even sit up, which was difficult to begin with given the c-section, but the chest pain…I had to roll out of bed and was on my hands and knees on the floor struggling to get up like Leo in the Wolf of Wall Street “lemon” scene.  I called to my husband and when he came in the room I thought his eyes were going to pop out of his head.  There I was topless with MASSIVE, engorged, completely rock-hard boobs.  They had doubled in size (I was a 32G before pregnancy), and their sheer magnitude caused my husband to revert to his teenage years.  Giant blue and purple veins covered my chest and looked like they might burst open.  They hurt to touch, to breathe, even look at.  It was then I knew what all the crazy moms before me talked about… the milk “came in”!

Not knowing what to do, my husband left the room, and went to the only person he thought could help; his mother.  While I might have been used to strangers seeing me at my most vulnerable, I wasn’t comfortable with family witnessing such events. Humiliated, I was crying, sore, and had no idea what to do.  The thought of “squeezing” the milk out made me want to run into oncoming traffic.  Pumping sounded like a Gitmo torture and I was afraid to nurse for fear I would literally drop the baby in pain.  My mother in law left the room to call the La Leche League 800 number and returned a few minutes later with bags of vegetables from our fridge.

Apparently, one of the best remedies for engorgement is cold cabbage leaves, purple or green doesn’t matter.  Of course, neither were present in our home so the produce aisle found its way into the bedroom and we looked for the next best thing… enter the strong and mighty Romaine Lettuce Heart.  As I laid on the bed my husband and mother arranged the leafy greens around chest like they were creating a work of art.

When they were done they stepped back, admired their work and joked about how “I guess we won’t be having salad tonight”.  I didn’t laugh, it would have hurt too much.  Instead I laid there, the artistic creation, lettuce on the top, frozen diapers along my stomach to numb the staples, and my padded underwear – a very angelic, beautiful, picture indeed.  From that day on, though, we have always managed to have a head of cabbage in the house.

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