Yesterday was a big day for me. I would say “us” but this is really a selfish post. It’s about me. My pumping, my milk, the sacrifice of my time, my energy, my body. Yesterday I returned Pumpy, my breastpump, to my lactation consultant. It was possibly the second greatest moment of my life (the first, of course, being the girls). I’m done. My last pump was last Thursday and now I’m done. Hallelujah.
The girls will be seven months tomorrow. It’s been an incredible journey so far–packed with meals of sweet milk and kisses, baby food, endless diaper changings, outgrowing newborn clothes and playing Playing PLAYING all the time. Of all of the challenges that I’ve faced as a new mother of twins–more than the sleep-deprivation, more than the simultaneous crying, more than the separation of going back to work–I steadfastly maintain that breastfeeding is at the top of the list. Breastfeeding is a constant battle for my time, energy and the body I so desperately want back.
As I look back on the last seven months I wonder how on earth did I make it this long and why? The “why” is the easier question as it is difficult to challenge the numerable benefits of breastfeeding. There is a lot of research that shows that breastfed babies may be healthier and smarter babies than their formula-fed counterparts. Much of this research may be debatable–as I, for one, was a total formula-fed baby and seemed to be a well-adjusted, healthy, intelligent person. But I have always felt like I should try to breastfeed my girls so that they will have the best possible start to life. While I was committed in my mind to making this happen, the reality of breastfeeding two babies is that you need some help. Making it seven months has not come without trials and obstacles. So, if you areÂ in need of a few tips, this is how I have made it this far.
1. Get a “hands-free” nursing bra. Pumping would not be happening without my Easy Expression Bustier from mommygear.com. You do not have to hold the cups so it leaves you hands free to read a book, take a drink of water, flip channels on the TV, write email messages. Whatever! I love this thing.
2. Get multiple pump parts. Target has them cheap. I got enough parts to last all day at work so when I finished I would throw the parts in a plastic bag and then toss them in the dishwasher when I got home. This saved me from either hand-washing them at work (gross) or doing the microwave thing. Let’s get real–this process already takes a long time, why waste more time cleaning at work when you can get extra parts for a few bucks.
3. Find a lactation consultant that works with you, who supports you, who understands and helps you. If you can’t find a lactation consultant that you like, find a friend who understands, who sympathizes, who has been there before. Breastfeeding can be tough and you need to find encouragement and support no matter whether you decide to breastfeed or not. If you can’t find a friend like this–call me.
4.Â Get a kitchen timer that counts down. My mom thought of this and it was great to just set the timer and forget about it until it beeped. I really loved this idea.
5. Join a lactation support group. I thought this was a good idea for moms who needed some guidance and support. My biggest problem with it was that there were mothers at my group with teeny tiny babies who really should be cuddled up on their couches at home and kangerooing with their babies and NOT at some hospital on a hard chair trying to get a baby to latch on at some random hour of the day. I think kangerooing with your baby is the best way to establish good nursing practices.
6. Befriend you pump. Give it a name. My pump is named “Pumpy.” We have a love/hate relationship. Pumpy gets a lot of time and priority in my life but that is because I have decided to do this. I don’t have to do this. I can let it go at any time. But I decided to make Pumpy a priority and until I decided to stop I did not begrudge Pumpy and the hours of attention she took from me everyday (and night and day and night and day and night–you get the picture).
7. Relax. It is physically demanding to give birth. Top that off with a little sleep deprivation, crying (the babies and ME) and worrying and things can get difficult quickly. I always need to remind myself to just stop and just reflect on the girls and remember what is really important in life. My girls.
Finally, and most importantly, I wanted to thank those who have supported me on this endeavor. It has been difficult but it was so important to me and I couldn’t have done it without the support and the extra hands to watch the girls when I pumped and pumped and pumped. Just a few…
Amanda, I could not have done it without your support–so many of these helpful tips came from you. You inspired me with your strength and courage and all the obstacles you faced when pumping. Everytime I thought about giving up–I thought of you and I kept going. You gave me great ideas and suggestions on how to really make this work for me. Thank you for your guidance. I leaned on you during some of the more difficult times of this endeavor and you were always so encouraging and supportive no matter what decision I made. Thank you.
Mom, you are my rock and my strength. You have given so much of your time and energy to making this work for us. Thank you for taking over when we needed a break. Thank you Thank you Thank you.
Jennifer. Jennifer, also a mother of newborn twin girls, came up to me at my first lactation group meeting–right before I lost it–and inspired me with her wisdom and love. Thank you for your support, your words, your encouragement. Wow.
Chad. What can I say? I love you. Thank you for taking control when I needed to pump and pump and pump. I’m glad it’s over now so let’s get some sleep.
Pumpy. Nursing was too difficult with both babies past about three months (the teething started early!) and so this would have never happened without you. I resented you for the time, the pain, the energy that was sapped from my already worn and tired body. But, I loved you for what you allowed me to give to my babies. This was so important to me and we made it happen. Thank you. And good-bye!