In my mind, I have set three big goals for breastfeeding at six, nine and 12 months. At each goal point I am to re-evaluate how breastfeeding is going and decide for myself if I want to continue. So here we go… Time to work this one out!
How is it going? Well, as I see it and in my situation there are three main facets to this. First, there’s actually breastfeeding. This constitutes the time that I’m with Baby2, baby to breast, the good old fashioned natural stuff. Second, there’s actually pumping which is the time spent with my trusty pumping machine. Third is breast pump maintenance: time spent on cleaning, boiling, transporting and whatever else involves my pump except for the act of and time spent pumping. Let’s look at each category…
Actually breastfeeding: OMG I love you. Convenience, bonding, no cost, limited clean-up (just bottles for when I’m at work), etc. Breastfeeding is the most wonderful of wonderfuls.
Physically pumping: I can stand you. We’re okay. Cordial but not over-friendly (seems odd to be saying that about something as intimate as a breast pump though). Getting some engorgement relief is great; if I go past like 10 am without pumping (even on the weekends when I’m home) I’m a-hurtin’ so thank you Veronica for some sweet relief. (Hmm, that’s an odd sentence fragment.) Also, knowing that not only my baby but other babies out there benefit from my pumping makes pumping with it. AND it doesn’t hurt at all for me. So score there.
Pump maintenance: I FUCKING HATE YOU PUMP MAINTENANCE!!!!! Lugging that god damn pump bag back and forth through the work parking lot and through the building every day is inconvenient at best. Washing and boiling the pump parts every damn day is time-consuming (and I have already reduced my boiling times to once a week AND I don’t even wash my pump at work I just store it in the lactation room fridge between my two pumping sessions). Also, worrying that the god damn thing is going to break on me again is giving me grey hairs.
So to recap, I love breastfeeding and pumping is worth it but I hate pump maintenance. Therefore, it’s worth at least another three months of FUCKING PUMP MAINTENANCE.
But I’m having trouble staying motivated. Pump maintenance is really dragging me down you guys. So here’s a list of the 10 things I love most about everything breastfeeding. I shall refer to the list when I am cursing while cleaning my pump for the fifth time this week.
10. Helping the other babies. Did you know there are babies out there that literally cannot process formula? On our Arizona trip I donated milk to a mama of an adopted baby girl who had seizures, SEIZURES, after eating any kind of formula (she listed off some types that I had never even heard of) but when she started a consistent breastmilk diet all that changed. No seizures, started gaining weight regularly, meeting developmental milestones, etc. AMAZING what some boob juice can do.
9. Baby2’s comfort. I know that sometimes she isn’t hungry she’s just pissed or in pain (teething, shots, that one time that I let he fall on the floor while practicing sitting up) or tired but she stops crying or starts sleeping when put to the breast.
8. Health benefits for Baby2. You know, like she’s less likely of having diabetes and junk. We’ve all heard the enormous benefits before, no need to repeat them here. My fingers are tired from all this typing already.
7. Health benefits for me. Less chance of breast cancer, etc. Plus I’m burning more calories which is awesome.
6. It’s free. Well, I did have to buy the pump and some nursing bras but that’s it. Certainly better than spending hundreds of dollars on formula each month.
5. Breastfed baby poops don’t stink… too bad. They really do smell a little bit sweet. They dissolve nicely in the washing machine. Of course, now that Baby2 has started solids we’re in new poop territory, but we’re still seeing the benefits of breastfed baby poops. (Wow that would sound weird out of context.)
4. I have provided all the nutrients she needs with my boobs ALONE. That’s pretty cool. And empowering. Even now that she’s eating some solids she still gets the vast majority of her nutrients from me. It’s like a pseudo pregnancy and that’s absolutely wonderful. Because I love being pregnant and I love providing for my baby’s needs.
3. There is nothing more convenient! No bottles to fill, warm, wash and store (well, except for the one or two bottles Mr. Handsome uses during the week while I’m at work). No need to remember to bring a bottle when we go out, no need to keep track of it. No warming bottles in the middle of the night. No waste from the formula manufacturing or packaging. Nothing going into my baby that I don’t control. No recalls!
2. Did I mention the cost savings? I like saving money. A lot.
1. Bonding. Even when I’m pumping, I feel connected to my baby. And let me tell you, this week I really need any connection I can get. I’ve been working late a few nights. Sometimes I get home just before or right after Baby2 goes to bed. Some days I only get sleepy feedings in the middle of the night, no good daytime ones. And that sucks. A few times I’ve felt like she’s pushing the breast away, like she’s rather have a bottle. And then just thinking about all the time we’ve spent trying to get her to take the bottle and all and then to think that she might prefer that? Ugh. Luckily I know that’s not the case, but still, the mind wanders.
And everything, EVERYTHING, that I hate about pump maintenance is completely forgotten when I’m nursing Baby2 and she looks up at me with those dark blue eyes and she smiles, then goes right back to nursing. Or when she can tell that the boob is about to come out and her little arms shake with excitement and she opens her mouth and roots into anything – my hand, her hand, my shirt, etc, and makes the cutest rooting noises that I can’t even describe but I hope I remember for all time. How could I possibly give these things up because I have to clean my pump every night and carry it to work and back every day?
Yes, at least three more months of all this is just fine with me.