I tried not to have too many expectations about what would happen when baby came home. The one thing I knew was that every child is different, and every parent’s experience is different. In fact, I was expecting the worst, and so far, apart from the first difficult weeks, things have not lived up to my dire expectations.
But when it came to pumping, it turns out I had very unrealistic expectations.
When breastfeeding initially worked for us, we were advised not to introduce a bottle until six weeks if possible, and so just before hitting that mark, I purchased a breast pump and started pumping. In my mind, this was going to free me from my two hourly feeding prison. No more would I have to worry about hurrying home from the pool – with emergency milk in the freezer, hubby could always feed him without me. No more would I hear that maddening but heartbreaking chorus of words: “Mama, baby’s hungry.” Pumping was the solution. I would just pump every now and again – in my mind this was like turning a tap on and filling a bottle – that simple.
I tried really hard. I read how to get the best yield and then I began. And… it did not go well. It was taking me days to collect not even a full bottle’s worth. And in the meantime, baby kept growing, and the amount he needed in one sitting grew too. Add to that the additional time of cleaning and sanitising the pump parts in between. It was exhausting.
The next time our midwife came, she tested the pump with me and announced, to my grim disappointment, that it seemed that pumping was not for me. That there are some people for whom it just does not work so well. It was not worth it, she said. Best to sell the pump and not have the hassle.
I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Thank goodness I would not have to pump anymore. It was added pressure I just didn’t need.
But later I had a bit of a cry. Because this meant that I wasn’t going to be released from my prison of two hour feedings like I’d thought. And yes, I know I can take baby with me where I go, because breast is convenient that way, but it would be nice not to always have to.
Oh woe is me, I thought sadly. Poor Debbie. And then I gave myself a virtual slap in the face. Because there was no rule that said I had to breastfeed each meal. Sure, that might be the ideal way, but it is not the only way. I could always supplement with formula, if I decided it was necessary, be that for my mental state or just because I wanted things a tad more convenient. Because mothers sacrifice so much, and it’s ok every once in a while to give ourselves a break!
And once I made peace with that I could breathe again, and the walls of my virtual prison faded away a little.
So far it’s not something I’ve relied upon. Maybe I won’t even need to. The important thing is that the option is there if I need to. And it’s 100% ok. In the meantime I’ve had better success with the Haaka pump, which is a different kind of pump, and so I still have a small freezer stash going if we need it.