The Only Reason I’m Still Pumping (Today, That Is…)

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!

7 thoughts on “The Only Reason I’m Still Pumping (Today, That Is…)

  1. I am feeling the same way at the 3 month mark. I want to make it a week, but don’t know if I will be able to. I was exclusively breastfeeding, but now that I am back to work I have to pump. My son is now taking between 14 and18 oz while I am at work. Yet I can’t seem to pump enough to keep up with that. My frozen supply is dwindling as well. I eat oatmeal, drink Mother’s Milk, and take Fenugreek. Nothing has helped as of yet. I am freaking, which I’m sure doesn’t help my supply. I have also concluded that my phalanges may be the wrong size. I will try that tomorrow when I use my new ones. I could use some words of advice on what to do!

  2. I was a mostly exclusive pumper with my son, and I supplemented from day 2. Around the 9 month mark, I’d had it with pumping. My doctor told me to stop; he said the stress of it all was hurting my supply and not worth it. I continued to nurse once a day for another month until we were both frustrated and crying every time I tried to nurse. Know that how far you’ve gone is amazing. And I was completely elated to find how much easier it was with my second child (besides the mastitis when she was 3 weeks old). Hang in there, and don’t feel guilt if you stop. When I had to start supplementing while still in the hospital with my son, one of the nurses gave me a great piece of advice. She said, ‘you’ll have enough mommy guilt for the rest of your life. Don’t let this be an instance of guilt when you are doing the best you can.’

  3. You know what’s best for you and what you can handle. I simply want to say that if you do end up deciding to not pump anymore, you are an incredible mom and it’s completely OK. Kudos to you for making it to the 6 month mark!

  4. I love that sentiment of not quitting on a bad day. It’s so true. I will offer you this – pumping is not easy. It’s exhausting and time consuming. If and when you decide this it’s the time to do it, know that YOU ARE AWESOME. Don’t feel bad about it at all – you made it FAR. If it’s any consolation, know also that she is replacing milk with new and yummy *foods* (I mean, sorry to say, but when you’re trying a banana for the first time, how could that not be the best thing EVER…maybe even better than milk?!).

    I found the hardest thing was actually making the decision to scale back only because I felt ridiculous amounts of guilt. In hindsight, it was one of the BEST DECISIONS EVER because once my supply dwindled and I wasn’t getting enough to make it worth it anymore, I suddenly got my life back. Good luck in whatever you decide. ❤

  5. Ughhh I hate pumping and I give applause to people who EP as I think it is time consuming. I have to do it in my car, and other random places when I am on the road so I feel your pain momma.

    1. I used to do it while driving!!!! I used to strap on the hands free, plug it in, cover myself with a jacket and go!

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