A Year in the Life of a Pumping Mama

I write this with mixed emotions as my year of pumping sweet liquid gold is coming to a close. I am sitting here in disbelief that not only is my son turning a year old in a few weeks, but the fact that I was able to make it a whole year breastfeeding/pumping.  The past year has been a roller coaster to say the least.

Let’s start way back when my son was just 6 weeks old.  We were lucky that he started sleeping for “longer periods” at this point.  This is when I picked up my night time pumping sessions. At this point I was just storing up for when I went back to work.  I had received mixed reviews on creating a frozen stash, so I just decided to live on the safe side and go for it. After watching what felt like endless amounts of YouTube videos and reading the manual 15 times, I finally gained enough courage to put the weird funnels on and start pushing buttons.  

I forced my poor husband to be there, as I hooked up what looked like a torture chamber to my breasts.  Of course it was trial and error to find the right settings, and who am I kidding, I am still messing with all those buttons, now a year later.  Let’s just say my initial reaction was a complete exaggeration. Moms-to-be, I am apparently overly dramatic and there is nothing to be scared of.  

So, the dreaded day finally comes…back to work.  Sending my sweet little 13 week old baby with his little milk supply cooler and we both head to school as our new norm (commercial daycare for him and teaching 1st grade for me).  Not only was I an emotional mess, leaving my little one, but I was a complete stress ball trying to figure out how to be a pumping mom. How much should I be producing? How long should to pump for each session to be successful? When am I going to fit all of these pumping sessions in? Will I produce enough for him for the next day?  Being a teacher is really challenging to find a schedule. I had three times during the day, and I was lucky that they were spaced over 2 hours a part. I pumped before my little 6 year olds arrived, lunch time, and when they went to special class.

Sadly, pumping made me one of the most antisocial teachers in my building.  Putting black paper over my door window and locking my door three times a day. Although I get a lot of work done during my session (thanks to my hands-free pumping bra), I don’t have a lot of adult time to collaborate or just to chat.  It gets lonely. But, I am so thankful to have teammates and friends that not only gave me advice with breastfeeding/pumping, but support and encouragement along the way. It was nice to have someone to ask those daunting questions every new mom has.  Every mom (however you feed your baby) needs that friend that just says “Stay positive, you’re doing great.”

Although it can be lonely at times, there are always moments where you just have to stop and laugh.  If you’re walking by my classroom around 11:05, you will always hear some sort of screaming. It’s not the scream of pain, it is the scream of terror.  It never fails that a Stuart Little wannabe mouse comes out from the air conditioning vent to torment me for a good 15 minutes. No joke. The first time it happened, I saw something dart across my room.  I immediately started screaming and put my feet up on my chair. I called one of my teammates, thinking she would be able to help in some way. I mean HELLO?, what was she going to be able to do? After all of my high pitch screaming and pounding random objects on my desk, it always goes back into hiding.  

Speaking of other visitors during this time…You’d think locking a door and putting black paper over a window would keep people out of my room, right? Wrong. There was a period early on where my adapter was malfunctioning at my pumping headquarters (aka my desk).  I decided to move my supplies to another outlet to see if that would work, it did for the time being. But here comes someone opening my door without knocking…boy did they get a show! Come on people: KNOCK! Some friendly advice: Wear a cover. 

This adapter issue actually continued and I had to pump in my car 3x a day until I could get the company to replace the part.  I had to send them pictures and video to prove the pump wasn’t working correctly. Just adding things to an already full plate.  I was thankful and oh so lucky that I had bought a car adapter the week before. What are the odds?

Having the car adapter has been a lifesaver, as I started to save time by pumping on my way to work.  Again, I can’t stress how much your life will change when you get a hands-free pumping bra! Pumping in the car was also great for days I had offsite professional development. One of those days I pumped in my car and somehow my pumping bra was stuck to my clothes without realizing it.  [Cue tears as I write this]  Hours later, I crossed my fingers as I drove back to only be disappointed that it wasn’t there. 

There are times I just want to give up on pumping and there are times I just want to sit and laugh at the ridiculous stories that have happened over the last year.  Always getting discouraged on the amount of milk I produced that day or laughing at the milk stains on the surfaces at my house, in my classroom, and in my car.  Luckily, my husband has been my biggest cheerleader, encouraging me that I am doing all I can and not to start freaking out when we have to dip into my freezer stash and laughing at my daily mouse story.  I had to stop to think how lucky I am that I am able to do this for my little one, and all the emotions I go through about it are worth it.

Now in the final weeks, a new set of questions arise.  How do I stop pumping? What if I start the process too soon? Will it be painful? Do I actually have to put cabbage in my bra to “dry up”?  And the Google searches continue…

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