I have written a bit before about the complicated feeding situation with my daughter. She is six months old now, and we are currently doing a combination of nursing, expressed milk, and formula (aaaand starting solids), but I have been pumping as our primary method of feeding since the second or third day we were home from the hospital. I have been through probably a million different stages with it. At first, when I was learning about it, I got really excited and into it. Then I went through a kind of obsessive period where I was documenting every ounce pumped and shoveling oatmeal and mother’s milk tea into my mouth like a competitive eater. Then I tried to be more laid back, then I started to lose interest, and now I’m just plain OVER IT.
All I can do is shake my head as I’m writing this. I was so sure before I had my daughter that I would breastfeed for a year or more, and now I am seriously dragging myself into the six month mark. In a sense, I do see how far we have come, but six months in, that still puts me at SIX WHOLE MONTHS from my goal of one year. Not even the excuse of, “But I NEED the extra slice of pizza, I’m breastfeeding,” is doing it for me anymore.
On a normal day, pumping is inconvenient and annoying. (Side note: I am ashamed that because I know that there are many women out there who can’t pump and would sacrifice a lot to be in my position. To those people, I am sorry for being a total whiner, but I’m just being honest here.) From making sure I’m wearing an easy-access outfit, to scheduling break times at work, to fitting pumps around baby naps, to constantly fretting over supply. On a good day, it’s ok. I accept this. I’m glad I can give this gift to my baby girl. On a bad day, I want to drop kick the damn thing. (I’ve used that little piece of imagery before. Sorry – it’s my favorite.) I had a bad pumping day recently – they all seem to involve some milk spillage – where I was shouting, “I don’t want to DO THIS anymore!!!” while waving my hands-free pumping bra at my husband.
One thing I will say that has been really helpful in getting me through the rough times has actually been one of those online community groups for EPers (exclusive pumpers – which I’m not, by the way. I’m not an exclusive anything-er!). There is this little adage on there that gets thrown around a lot. It is simple but surprisingly helpful:
“Don’t quit on a bad day.”
Right now, this phrase is single-handedly saving me from quitting pumping. First of all, it is a reminder to me that a bad day is not the norm, but rather, an anomaly. Yesterday wasn’t as bad, and tomorrow will be better. This is kind of like when I randomly got really into running for about eight months one year and got all these books about it. I remember reading about how if you run five times a week, you’ll generally have three sort of regular-ish runs, one great run, and one really tough run. Knowing that helped me to push through the crappy ones rather than getting discouraged and quitting. Pumping is kind of the same way – minus the awesome endorphins, plus the satisfaction of knowing I’m feeding my kid.
Also, and probably most importantly, this piece of advice reminds me that I need to keep my emotions in check and not make a big impulse decision when I’m upset or exhausted or fed up. It’s an important decision – I’m feeding my child here, not figuring out whether I’m going to watch the new season of Real Housewives. If I can calm down and really think about the pros and cons, make a list, sleep on it, talk to my husband… Then and only then will I know that quitting is the right decision. In other words, it buys me a little time.
That’s it. I offer to all of you a simple little phrase that means a lot to me right now and that I think could mean something to you as well. And now I’m off to do you-know-what. Thankfully, today is a good day!