Monday, June 24, 2013

Parting with the Pump

So this may be an awkward topic to blog about...but I feel like someone has to. Not many people know this because, like I said, it's awkward to talk about.  Adelyn has been bottle fed from day one...not formula, but breast milk. Due to a lot of different reasons, some me, some her, I've been pumping since our second day in the hospital and she has been fed expressed breast milk in a bottle. We never got the hang of breast feeding, partially because her jaw and tongue were so recessed at birth and partially because my supply was so large and expressed way too quickly for her to keep up, among a few other reasons.

Why blog about this? I'm still trying to decide if I'm even going to post this, to be honest. Recently, Jake and I made the mutual decision that pumping is taking too large of a toll on me, on us, and on my relationship with Adelyn.  I guess I feel the need to justify the decision we've made publicly. But I also feel the need to open up about my struggles in case there's someone who reads this who is having the same issues or is struggling with the decision to formula feed instead of breast feed.  Or even to let someone who is exclusively pumping know that they aren't alone. Until I googled ways to wean from the pump, I thought I was pretty much the only woman in the world who exclusively pumped.  And I know not many people know that I was only pumping but everyone will know once Adelyn is on formula only and I know many people who will have an opinion about it, and whether good or bad, I at least wanted a way to get all my thoughts and feelings about it out.  People are going to judge. I know that. I'm becoming more and more ok with that every day.  I've got to do what's best for Adelyn and me and honestly, others opinions don't really factor into that.

The main reason I'm making the switch is because of how hard it was on me emotionally.  Almost every time I was pumping during the day would be the time when Adelyn would wake up from a nap screaming and wanting to eat and I literally could not help her.  I spent many pumping sessions in tears as I had to listen to my baby cry and I couldn't even get up to comfort her.  I was trying to do the best thing for her by giving her breast milk but since I couldn't just feed her naturally, it was putting a huge strain on our bonding and relationship.  And as I was writing this, Adelyn woke up crying from a nap and I was able to run upstairs and grab her and now she's quite content snuggling on my chest, which is just reinforcement that I made the right decision.  If I had been pumping when she woke up, she'd still be up in her crib crying and getting worked up.  Not worth it to me.  I know the benefits of breast milk and I very much wanted to breast feed her for the first year of her life. That's just not the cards we were dealt and I'm trying to be ok with that.  And I was fed formula from day one and I think I turned out pretty great :)

If I had been able to breast feed I think I would still be breast feeding now.  I'd be able to comfort Adelyn any time she needed comforting.  I'd also be able to breast feed her, no matter where we were.  Another reason I'm no longer pumping is because you can't just start pumping in public. Sounds silly, right? But we had a wedding about a month ago and Jake was in the wedding so we had the rehearsal and everything, too.  It was a busy weekend and I spent most of it stressing out about where I was going to be able to pump.  It was beyond awkward to have to ask the owner of the hall where the reception was if we could use his office so that I could pump on schedule.  It was uncomfortable.  Maybe that's selfish of me. But I didn't think about how much a pumping schedule would dictate my life when I made the decision to pump.  I hesitate to say it isn't worth the stress because Adelyn is worth it.  However, I know she will still thrive on formula.

I think a huge reason this has been so emotionally hard on me is how terrible society makes formula sound. I know breast milk is the best option.  However, formula isn't going to kill them.  I'm proud and happy that Adelyn made it 2 months on only breast milk and that she is still getting it for a few feedings every day and she's almost 3 months old now.  But even if she had never gotten a drop of breast milk, that's not what's important and I'm finally realizing that.  My relationship with her is what is important.  Being able to hold her and comfort her as soon as she starts crying and not 15 minutes after the fact is what's important.  Surrounding her with love and hugs and kisses is what's important. I know there's some people out there who will still judge me and disagree with me about how what's most important for my child.  I'm not writing this to change anyone's mind. I'm finally just becoming ok with the fact that people are going to think what they want to think even when they don't know the whole story or the facts. I'm not writing this to change anyone's mind.  Part of me is writing this to at least tell people my side of the story...but this is just scratching the surface on my journey with pumping.  If anything, I'm writing this to help myself work through pumping.  It has been an emotional journey and I've felt really guilty a lot of the time.

I guess part of me is also writing this to hopefully make people more aware of the fact that they don't know what anyone else in going through when they judge them.  That goes for many areas of life.  I'll be the first to say that before having a baby, I was really judgmental of people that formula fed.  I've realized now that when I see other people doing things or making decisions that I wouldn't....that I have no idea what their story is.  I have no idea what struggles they've been through.  I think the world would be a lot better place if people realized that instead of just assuming they know what that person has been through and judging them for the decisions they're making.

I'll get off my soapbox now and leave you with a cute picture of my baby instead :)

Helping Mommy with her blog :)


Adrien said...

So sorry you've had such a hard time. I'm sure most people wouldn't think of judging you! It sounds like she made the transition to formula easily - what a blessing! :) What you were able to give her will benefit her greatly, and you're so right, she'll be just FINE with formula from here on out.

I was never able to pump, because I had the exact opposite problem. I didn't produce enough milk to pump ahead. If you ever give it a shot again with a future baby, would it be possible to pump ahead and have bottles ready to go? I know someone who did it that way, but again, you're right that every situation is different, and you just don't know until you do it for yourself!

Anonymous said...

As you get older and collect more mom-experiences, I suspect you'll learn to take the evil eye from other moms with greater ease. Trust me it will continue and pop up at times you least expect it. I hope it has taught me to give other moms a whole lot more grace than I used to! Each of us moms are usually just trying to get through the day as best we can and it isn't alway easy to say "How can I help you get through this?" instead of "you do THAT to/for your baby". Talk to me more some day about working vs staying home or breast vs bottle or public tantrums...I have judged and been judged...

Katie said...

Metissa - You said it much better than I did...I think that was ultimately my point. As a mom, I'm learning not to be so critical of other moms and just people in general. I'm realizing that everyone has a different experience with it and I have no place to judge the choices that other mothers make. I have judged in the past and I'm sure I will's a hard habit to break.

Beth Metcalf said...

Katie - well written! I pumped once I went back to work with Jacob and it is NOT EASY. Kudos to you for not only your dedication in giving her breast milk so far, but in stepping back as a family and making the best decision for your family!! It's so easy to judge the snapshot we see of other moms in public or FB or whatever but we have NO idea what they are going through. We have to remember it's just a snap shot.

Thank you for the courage to share this, I hope your words remind us all to step back and be more encouraging to one another.