I'm done with pumping!! Hooray!!!!
At the Pumpkin's 1 year doctor appointment, the doctor okayed putting her on whole milk. I don't plan to stop nursing, but I am more than happy to stop pumping. In fact, I had planned to pump once a day for one last week (the week after her doctor's appointment, about two weeks ago), but I didn't make it.
I was just so done with it. She easily transitioned to (organic) cow milk for the two bottles she takes during the day to go down for her naps. I still nurse her in the mornings when she gets up, at night to go to sleep, and really any other time she wants when I'm around her. I (or Londo) have been giving her cow milk bottles for her naps on the weekends, but that's mainly to give me a break and make sure she is getting enough milk since my supply has gone down during the day.
I love nursing her. It's been an incredible bonding experience. I could really go on and on about how important it's been for us and how wonderful... but that's a different post. This is about my experience pumping.
Disclaimer: Pumping was not pretty on my breasts, so any men (or women) who don't want to hear about it should stop reading now. I might be a little too graphic for some.
Prior to returning to work when the Pumpkin was just over 3 months old, I pumped here and there in order to build up enough milk for her to take three bottles the first day I went to work. This part went okay, although it was not easy to try and find time to pump. I did it and then went back to work where I would pump enough milk for the next day (and sometimes a bit more... sometimes a bit less).
I have been very fortunate in my experience with my company. Unlike other people's companies, my company is extremely supportive of breastfeeding and working moms in general. It's not just lip service, either. All major offices in my area have a Mother's Room. The one in my office was fantastic! It had a sink and fridge in it, different types of chairs, a good size table, a phone and a working internet cable. No windows and a locked door. In addition, when I went back to work, I was the only woman using the room, so I was able to set it up just the way I liked it and not share or anything.
That is where the good part of this story ends. Because although the set up was great, the pumping itself did not go so great. My main issues began the very first time I pumped and continued after I went back to work.
The pumping hurt. The pump sucked in my nipples, rubbing them raw on the sides. After talking with people and researching online, I thought the problem must be with the size of the sheilds. So I bought bigger sheilds. It turns out that those sheilds were not helping too much. So I bought the biggest sheilds. They helped some, but still my nipples were getting raw and cracked from rubbing the plastic edges inside the sheild. Having dealt with thrush in the early months, I was really worried about cracked nipples leading to another bout with thrush. Plus, once the nipple cracked, it would take forever to heal--especially because it would re-open the next time I had to pump.
A friend of mine mentioned a different type of pump that uses soft, pliable sheilds. I wasn't ready to spend the money on a new pump when I'd spent so much already on my Advanced Pump In Style (with the super cute bag!). But that gave me an idea of what to look for, and sure enough I found soft shields for my pump! This really seemed to solve my problem.
But the other issue that went hand in hand with the sheild issue was that I could only use my pump on the lowest setting. If I turned it up even a little, my nipples would start cracking again. So I would use the lowest setting, sitting in the Mother's Room, working (and reading mommy blogs) for 45 minutes to an HOUR three. times. a day!!! This was a significant amount of time to be away from my desk. But my coworkers (mostly men) knew where I was and what I was doing, and they understood and worked with me. We could communicate through email, our company's IM and through the phone. They were good about scheduling meetings around my times up there, and if they couldn't find me in my office, they'd shoot me an email saying to find them when I was done. No one gave me a hard time about what I was doing or how often or how long. I felt very supported by my coworkers and company.
But spending three hours a day in a room that wasn't my office caused me considerable juggling in scheduling and managing work and people.
There was more good... I was able to keep my supply up pretty well for most of the time. And once the Pumpkin was well on solid foods (probably around month 8), I went down to pumping only twice a day, but still 45-60 minutes each time. I had planned to just keep pumping after she turned one, but the thought of continuing made me want to cry. The time it took and the physical pain it was for me just wasn't worth it anymore.
The Pumpkin is over 12 months old, and I'm proud to say that she has never had a drop of formula*. She still nurses, and we have no plans to stop that yet. But I am very thankful to the cows who make it possible for me to stop. And I'm so very thankful to be done with pumping!
*I don't think there is anything wrong with formula, but this is still an achievement I'm proud of because of what I went through to make it happen.