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Pumped to Have Pumped (and to Have Stopped)

The Pookie will be one next Monday. (Can you believe that?) And it’s a good thing we are so close to his birthday, typically when babies get the go-ahead for cow’s milk, because I have not been pumping enough milk for him during the day for the last month. This time, pumping has not been as rough for me as it was last time, but I simply have not been pumping enough milk! Thankfully I had built up a pretty good freezer supply, because over the last month the Pookie has had at least one bottle of milk from the freezer a day.

The week before we went of vacation, I counted out how many bags were left and how many days until his one year appointment with the pediatrician, when I was hoping to the doc would say we could start him on cow’s milk. It was going to be close. But if I upped my pumping to 3 times a day, for 30-45 minutes each time and if I pumped over the vacation a few times, we could probably make it.

Of course, that didn't happen. Twice, I was able to pump 3 times, but even that didn't produce enough for the two 4.5 ounce bottles the Pookie takes a day. And on vacation? What can I say... I just didn't do it.

So this last Monday, my first day back to work after our vacation, I pumped twice for 30-40 minutes and got... 2 ounces of milk. Not even enough for ONE of his bottles. I was disappointed and frustrated and stressed. We were down to 4 bags of frozen milk. That would definitely NOT get me to his doctor's appointment next Tuesday.

I thought about what my sister had said, that there wasn't some magical thing that happens on their first birthday that makes them suddenly able to handle cow's milk. What if I started him on cow's milk a week early?

Tuesday morning, with my pumped cleaned and packed, I called the nurse at the pediatricians' office on my commute into work and asked her if it was okay to start the Pookie on cow's milk. We went through some factors, and she said it should be fine, give it a try. I called my hubby and the nanny, and gave them the news. His second bottle of the day was cow's milk, and he did fine.

I didn't pump all day! That was my very first day at work without pumping! I was done pumping for the second time, and it was wonderful. I will still continue to nurse him in the mornings and evenings, as I did with the Pumpkin, but it is so nice to not have to pump during the day.

Yesterday, I wore a dress to work! That was the first time in over a year that I was able to wear a dress to work (since my cute maternity dresses, which I actually miss a lot). In fact, that might have been the first time I wore a dress at all since the Pookie was born. I love dresses, and it was fabulous to be able to wear one again. Also? I have been wearing real! bras!

I'm so glad that I pumped for the Pookie. I am proud that we got through the whole year without needing to supplement, because that is a hard thing to do. In the last 9 months, I have been working on a client site, without access to the Mother's Room my company provides at it's main offices (which I was able to use for the Pumpkin). My desk is a cubicle surrounded by my mostly male coworkers.

I have been to numerous rooms, getting shifted around from whichever room happened to be available at the time. I've had to push and prod to ensure I (and the other nursing mom and soon-to-be-nursing mom) would have a private room with a lockable door where I (and we) could pump. I have pumped in rooms used for storage, surrounded by boxes and extra supplies. I have pumped with my shirt lifted up in freezing cold rooms, empty of everything but a desk and chair. I have pumped in rooms with windows whose blinds wouldn't shut all the way. I've had to figure out when a person with an office would be in meetings so I could use their office to pump. I've had to juggle my schedules and meetings around my pumping time. I've had to figure out what work I can bring with me to rooms that didn't have internet access. I've done a lot to ensure that I (and the other nursing women on this project) was able to pump my milk for my baby.

And I'm a lucky one. Everyone I work with, men and women, people with and without children, everyone supported me in this endeavor. Everyone worked to make sure I would have a place to go when I needed it, and that the place would NEVER be a bathroom or my car or my open cubicle. Even with this support and ability to find a place, it wasn't easy. It was a chore. It was sometimes painful. It would often disruptive of my work schedule.

But it was so worth it to me and my baby. I encourage all mothers to try to make it work as best they can. And I insist that all companies and employers make sure that nursing moms have the opportunity to make it work, and ideally make it even easy for them to pump. Not only does it feel great to have accomplished this feat, but the more women who figure out how to pump at work help it become more and more acceptable, which means that mothers returning to work can still provide what is the natural food and nourishment for their babies. And who wouldn't want that?


Melba said…
A real bra?!?! A dress?!?! Oh how I miss those things. Sniff.

FWIW, I started Rosie on cow's milk at 9 months. Did a ton of research on it, talked to my doctor, nurses at the health unit, etc. and we decided to give it a go. She did just fine, no change in her eating, pooping, or demeanor. And I was so glad we did it. So. much. easier.

And its good to hear that you got so much support at work to pump... that's awesome!
Kristina M said…
I have had the same exact struggle. I have been shuffled to many rooms, some unpleasant, some without heat in the winter. I would say my employer and co-workers tolerated it not supported it. Some days I felt like a leper. But still, 6 months down and we are doing well. I have no freezer supply and have had to get up 2 times a night to pump enough for the day time. I think its worth it too!
Cloud said…
Congratulations! Only a mom who has pumped to provide several bottles a day really appreciates what an accomplishment this is.

We're still several months away from introducing cow's milk, and I don't yet know if I'll keep pumping past that mark, as I did the first time around.

I do remember feeling a little bittersweet about stopping pumping for Pumpkin. I wonder if that feeling will be even stronger since this is my last baby?

My need to hit the frozen supplies waxes and wanes. I suspect some involvement of the hormone cycle. Also, that my baby is playing with my mind. Seriously. One week, I'm bringing home half of what I send with her. The next week, she's gulped it all down and the day care folks say she'd probably have taken more.
Anonymous said…
Congrats! Wearing real bras and soon not having to wear pads in them for leaks has got to be exciting!

With the new healthcare law in place, any workplace with more than 50 employees is required to have a private area for mothers to breastfeed so hopefully it will be easier than ever! I'm excited that my work has complied with this new law although I am a little overwhelmed by the concept. With Monkey I worked from home for the first year so pumping at work was never a concern.
- Dana said…
Congrats! This time around as been much easier for me too. I have ONE month left. I'm so excited to make it the whole year. You did inspire with pumpkin. I didn't really have a choice with #1, I had to stop because I was stressed and it was becoming unhealthy for all parties involved. #2 had issues when we started to introduce formula and I made a commitment to stick to it this time! With a few new tricks I learned and some support of family/co-workers, it was so much easier :-) I do long for the extra 3 hours a day I will get back when I'm not pumping anymore. Oh the possibilities (exercise, sleep…the list goes on)! We have a lot to be proud of!!!
Becoming Mommy said…
congrats on completing such a HUGE accomplishment!
Jac said…
That is amazing - and as someone who never managed to make pumping work, I am totally in awe.
Anandi said…
Hooray!! And a dress and real bras again - I'm so envious! I'm at a crossroads now. BabyT will be 9 months this week which some doctors say is an ok time to start cow's milk. Pumping is driving me batty now - I'm starting to really really hate it. REALLY. I'm lucky that I have my own office with a lock and blinds, so that's not the issue. It's just finding the time around my meetings, and just the whole production in general. I'm not sure I'm gonna make it to a year but it would be nice to not have to transition her to both formula and cow's milk within a few months. So we'll see what the doctor says. I have enough frozen to get us through another month, with some pumping at work and at home. But I've given myself permission *not* to get up in the middle of the night to pump anymore, and if I miss a session at work, I'm not stressed. Even that is way better.

HOORAY, and Happy Birthday to the Pookie.

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